Overcoming Creative Self Doubt
Having been plagued with creative self doubt since the school exam board decided to give me a B in Art A-Level, the love of my life at the time, I recently decided to take the bull by the horns and dedicate some time into looking at ways to overcome such a debilitating self issue.
I’ve always loved to draw, paint, dance and play the piano, but the the kind of self belief needed to transform any of these passions into what I believed to be a measurable kind of success, was fundamentally missing for a very long time. I spent years starting and stopping projects and losing interest in business ideas that involved me “creating” something. I distinctly remember my first attempt at “putting myself out there” in 2006 when I took some jewellery designs to a few boutiques in Highgate Village in London. Three out of five said they wanted to stock my creations, but even this kind of recognition at such an early stage, didn’t stop me from canning the business and giving up.
I spent most of my 20’s and early 30’s desperately wanting to be successful at something creative but could never quite get to the point of lift off. That all changed when I took the plunge and started my blog after a life changing hypnotherapy session. I soon came to realise that, in fact I had spent years avoiding potential failure because of the meaning that I had given to my A Level grades in 1996, yes 1996! It occurred to me that, unknowingly, I had in fact created a set of meanings about myself from that one event. I had attached feelings of failure, disappointment and made it all mean that any artistic output or creative endeavour would fail. This huge revelation enabled me to work on eliminating pointless, made-up meanings that had dictated my creative life and paved the way to create new ones. Along with some practical guidance on ways to lift self doubt (a few below) and through reading lots of books and connecting with people who had similar beliefs about themselves, I made a conscious decision to take action. The result was the blog. It took guts but a whole new path of creativity and experience continue to follow from it and I’m now in a place of fulfilment in my creative life.
It’s a big subject and I know one many of you will relate to, so I have made a list of ways that helped me eliminate creative self doubt. If you’ve been struggling through a patch, or perhaps lifetime of creative self doubt, then I hope these tips might help.
THINK less and DO more. Make time in the day to have some productive thinking time with no distraction; feel free to dream, ponder and visualise, but don’t get yourself into a rabbit hole of overthinking and judging your creative worth. It’s a pointless exercise. Just DO more of what you love.
1/ Get some perspective. Try and think in a more “so what” kind of a way… I don’t mean with a bad attitude, but in the grand scheme of things, not achieving creative success in the commercial sense does not mean you are not a talented individual, and unless you’re depending on it for financial gains, does it really matter that much. Just remember it’s always about the the kind of person you are in life that people will remember you by.
2/ Take the emphasis away from yourself and think about how much joy you can bring to other people around you in creating whatever you create. This is a big one. Make it less about you and think about how others will appreciate, love your creations and feel inspired to do something creative too.
3/ Don’t even waste time by comparing yourself to others who you perceive to be “successful”. You don’t have the time to be looking at what everyone else is doing, unless it’s coming from a collaborative angle. There’s room for everyone, the creative world is not limited to just a few.
4/ Tell yourself you love yourself at least 10 times a day – preferably in front of a mirror – sounds crazy but you will not believe how this can transforms your life.
5/ Stop making up stories about why you haven’t achieved creative success, what does success even look like anyway? it’s a made up word. Try not to attach meaning to where you are in your creative journey.
6/ Remove people from your social media accounts who make you feel lame. Only watch content from people you truly admire and feel inspired by. It can be a weird kind of addiction to follow people that don’t make you feel great, but once you’ve got rid of them, it won’t take long to forget them.
7/ Feelings of creative self doubt and confidence come and go, just like the weather, and that is totally okay. Everything passes.
8/ Start telling others how great you think their work is and sharing how what they do makes you feel. More of what you give out, comes back to you.
9/ Don’t limit yourself to what you believe you are only capable of…try something creative you have never attempted before…you might surprise yourself!
Written by Anna Williams from House Anna.
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