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Developing an internal assessment center, following up on Michel Brais' workshop "The feeling of imposture and the artist"



"The impulse that drives us to create is generated by a deep desire for self-expression, and the leap into action also generates apprehension as to the reception of the Other. So, before facing up to the reality of the Other's gaze, we often have to deal with an inner Voice that casts a critical and harsh eye on what emerges within us. A Voice that weighs down our momentum in the creative process and undermines us from within. It's not really a "syndrome", but rather a feeling of imposture that emerges from our zones of vulnerability." 


- Michel Brais 

 

On March 25th, Confluence - CV hosted one of its most recent additions to its workshop offering, entitled " The Feeling of Imposture and the Artist " and guided by our esteemed collaborator Michel Brais (M.A. Dramatic Arts and psychotherapist). All of our program participants were invited to attend, and artists from the disciplines of music, dance, theater and circus answered the call.   


First of all, it is important to understand that the feeling of imposture is activated as a defense mechanism in response to certain anxious tendencies. The feeling of imposture can be defined as an unshakeable sensation that persuades the individual suffering from it that his or her successes are not, in fact, attributable to his or her real skills or strengths. The person living with this feeling will usually present, consciously or unconsciously, a self-deprecating posture. They remain convinced that they don't deserve the job, role or contract they've obtained, or that they got it for reasons that have nothing to do with their skills and that are instead due to external factors, such as luck, for example.


Some artists living with this feeling of imposture are afraid of eventually being unmasked and discovered for what they truly are, according to their skewed perception of themselves, i.e. less impressive, skilful or talented than what the image of them reflected by their milieu or entourage would suggest. This can result in what's known as under-activation, an anxiety about being seen by others. Under-activation leads the artist to keep a low profile to avoid criticism, thus limiting the expansion of their professional opportunities or network and under-developing their skills.   


Other artists will respond to this feeling with over-activation, with exaggerated perfectionism. They will heavily rely on preparation and hard work, using both as a likely explanation for possible success as much as for possible failure. This behaviour will keep them in a space of constant shortfall, a never-ending race forward that leaves no room for error and during which they never pause to appreciate and celebrate successes. Any role or contract won will only be attributable to the quantity and quality of their upstream work, any objective achieved will suddenly seem less impressive or difficult to achieve than initially thought, any contract not won will be so because of the quality or quantity of preparation that will be perceived as, ultimately, insufficient or overestimated. All in all, the self-evaluation of artists evolving with a sense of imposture never seems to be quite aligned with reality.    


To counteract the feeling of imposture, Mr. Brais first suggests that we develop an attitude of acceptance and benevolence towards ourselves, to better dialogue with this internalized way of expressing our fears in the face of the external gaze. He also emphasizes the importance of slowing down, taking the time to strengthen our own self-perception. Whether through activities that refocus us, breathing exercises or meditation, slowing down is a key to developing the ability to distance ourselves when feelings become too overwhelming, to make sense of things and then act with greater discernment. Mr. Brais also points out that setting aside time to celebrate and share successes in the company of loved ones and colleagues can really act as a transformative factor in dealing with feelings of imposture.   


Of course, these strategies require time, perseverance and dedication if they are to have a lasting effect on the artist. But, in the end, learning to take care of oneself is a crucial process. 


Confluence - CV would like to thank the workshop participants who were with us by videoconference, deferred or in real time, as well as Michel Brais, for his invaluable collaboration! We wish you all a happy spring and hope to see you soon!   


Click here for information on how to book our "The feeling of imposture and the artist" workshop :


Discover our full selection of workshops, as posted on Cultive.ca here : https://vitrine.cultive.ca/catalog?pro=P105431

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