One day I was complaining to my son Tom about my total incapacity to do renovations. I had to arrange fencing quotes and landscaping. This is stuff I have no interest in and have never thought about. Suddenly I had to attend to it and I felt frustrated and overwhelmed.
Tom told me about The Dunning-Kruger effect. If you go and look it up you’ll find it’s accompanied by a graph. The top left-hand side measures your belief in your competency and the bottom is your experience. The graph shows that your belief in your competency drops abruptly as you gain experience. It then gradually rises over time as you become more realistic about your capacity.
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a serious thing. It is used as a way of assessing the way power is distributed in society. It also argues that “low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.” (From Wikipedia)
I found this a comfort. On a personal level, these ideas spoke to me about compassion, forgiveness of myself and my inabilities. Perhaps there is also something about forgiving other people’s limitations as well.
The discovery of The Dunning-Kruger effect cheered me up immensely. Getting rid of the asbestos fence and trying to make the studio work more efficiently didn’t seem quite so daunting. I was no longer as distracted by the hum of my own harsh judgement.
If you are feeling overwhelmed I recommend that you should just keep on forgiving yourself. If you are an artist, keep on painting and making mistakes and forgiving yourself for those mistakes. Just never give up.
I think we can all be a little kinder to ourselves. Just keep on trying rather than ever succumbing to anger, being snappy or socially ostracising anyone. Try to keep on the go and remain as open and friendly as you can.
It may be helpful to remember chances are your self-assessment is not necessarily a true reflection of your ability.
Interested In A Painting?
I recommend you arrange a visit to my studio because then you can see the colours and textures of my paintings up close. You’ll find my email and phone are on the Contact Page.