If someone in your family is angry about your decision to be an artist, derides or ridicules your decision to be an artist, complains that you are not pulling your weight financially, or scoffs at your chances to succeed as an artist, you are stuck with a difficult—and perhaps volatile—situation.

How can you handle a situation of this sort? All of the following won’t work that well:

1. Getting angry and storming away.

2. Feeling hurt and diminished and shrinking away.

3. Defending yourself with “rational” arguments, counter-evidence, or anecdotal stories of successful artists.

4. Ignoring the family member and the situation.

5. Taking to drink, drugs, sex, shopping or some other soothing substance or activity.

6. Replying with counter-charges of your own.

7. Demanding support because family members “ought to be loyal and supportive.”

Your better bet is to present yourself in the following sort of way:

“I agree that most artists do not make a living wage. Here is what I am endeavoring to do to prove the exception to that rule. I am doing a, b, c, and d. These efforts will take time to bear fruit and I hope that in x amount of time (e.g., two years) I will be one of those rare artists who makes money. I wonder if you can bear with me during this time and maybe even be on my side? I am presenting an honorable picture of how an artist ought to operate if she wants to make money and I think you can see that. Yes?”

This of course means that you actually intend to prove the exception, engage in the activities you outlined, and ultimately make money. If that isn’t your intention—if, in fact, you are content being dependent, not bringing in any money, and living “as you please”—then the above presentation would amount to a mere story or a lie rather than a pledge. You will need to think through how you intend to “be” as an artist: if you intend to make money as an artist, the above is a good response; if you don’t, another sort of response is needed. More on that next week!


What can help you deal with your difficult family? Purchase Dr. Maisel’s Overcoming Your Difficult Family: it’s a low-cost, pick-your-own price class that recently went to #1 on dailyom.


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