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janbb's avatar

Do you tend to discredit a skill you have if it comes easily to you?

Asked by janbb (59208points) September 15th, 2020

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I get really positive reactions to the paintings I post online. I have been painting for a long time and worked hard at it over years but now it seems to come quite easily to me. I’m no Rembrandt or Picasso and I feel my little whimsical paintings are no big deal so I’m surprised at all the great feedback.

TLDR: Do we denigrate personal talents that seem fairly simple to us?

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10 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Some of us do, yes. I would say that was the single thing that held back my husband’s career more than anything else. He was a very good writer, but he did a lousy job of selling himself because he undervalued everything that came easily to him.

I tend to underestimate the difficulty of things that aren’t too hard for me, but I think that’s a little different from underestimating their value.

With respect to art work in particular, I have trouble accepting compliments because I can see so many things wrong with it; and if I wait a little while, I’ll see even more. My art teacher said once, “Quit pointing out your mistakes. Somebody else might not even notice them.”

But I’ll bet I could look at your work, @janbb, and see beautiful things that you might not see yourself.

JLeslie's avatar

When I was younger I definitely did that. I didn’t really grasp that some things that came easily to me were hard for others. Even more than that I felt like people do what they can do and so it isn’t so special.

When I was young I gave up on things quickly that didn’t come to me easily. I didn’t really understand working hard at something that was very difficult. I worked hard at ballet, math, and some other things, but I had some general natural ability for those things, so it was like I had a head start and then I built on it.

Now, I very much appreciate the work people put in to further their talents and knowledge, even if their talent comes naturally. I also feel more grateful for the talents I have.

raum's avatar

Art is tricky. I think for drawing or painting, you have to have a critical eye. You can’t draw or paint something correctly if you can’t easily recognize what’s wrong with it. It’s a hard thing to turn off though.

janbb's avatar

@raum The trick in that (I finally learned) is to shut off the critic while you are working and then look at what you did and see where it needs improving. I used to constantly have my critical voice active but now I keep working and then step back – two different steps.

Blackberry's avatar

Yea a lot of us have self-esteem issues. I feel like I’m a good, somewhat talented person, but there’s always a voice in the back of my head telling me I suck haha.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Sure. But art, well, you have a product subject to continued change, so how is it ever ‘done’? I’d go crazy, but I admire the actual talent very much.

longgone's avatar

Yes, definitely. It depends on my state of mind, but there are times when I discount my skills, or find excuses for the results I get.

For example, my English is pretty good. When people compliment me, I usually say “Thanks, but I cheated”, explaining that I lived in an English-speaking community when I was a young teen. When I do well with exams, I tell myself I just have a good memory. When people say that my dogs are well-trained, I shrug and reply “until a squirrel comes along”. The truth is, my dogs have a good recall even if there is wildlife around.

I think you’re onto something. Question is…do you accept compliments on more challenging achievements?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Yep. I still don’t understand when people tell me they like my art. It seems bizarre to me.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I have limited insight into what skills that I have.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Kind of.
“You make it seem so easy…”
That’s because it IS easy !”

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