Rufus is the snooty, know-it-all, art critic that lives inside the mind of every artist.
"This is just a one-off instance. You won't be able to reproduce it."
"Did you really work hard enough to EARN this?"
"You don't deserve it."
Lies, lies, and more lies. Rufus will take some of your crowning achievements and sour them. It's the mentality of "anything you can do, someone else can do better" that he wants to invade your mind with.
Even when you have wised up to his trick of comparison to others being the thief of joy, he still has another source of comparison to use as a stumbling block.
Comparing yourself to yourself can be just as undermining and damaging as comparing yourself to others. Every painting is different and deserves its own audience. Just because one gets recognized does not mean that it is inherently better than all of your other paintings. It may just mean that it caught the fancy of a person that day or it met all of the rules the judges placed.
Don't let Rufus make you overthink it and take your high. Enjoy the recognition and the praise for a job well done because this is what Rufus doesn't want you to know:
If your heart is in it, you reproduce that feeling for someone every time. They just may not be in the position to give you the public recognition they feel you deserve.
You DID work that hard, and you DID EARN it!
If someone recognized or featured your work, then you DO deserve it. Who cares what Rufus thinks?
Don't let Rufus take your highs and turn them into lows. Recognize his scheme and block out the comparisons.
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