“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~Honore de Balzac
A while back I began to feel out of sorts with my writing. It happened after coming down from the high of creating almost nonstop with my inner muse. I noticed that I began to feel down, like the feeling one gets after being at the amusement park when the excitement is over.
Creating and finishing my projects had been a wild ride. It was exciting and intense at times. But once done, an insidious feeling began to over take me.
My thoughts began to wander to “the dark side” questioning my abilities.
What if I can’t create something new? What if people don’t like what I have done?
Like after any expenditure of energy, there is always a lull. Lulls have been known to drain ones creative energy if you let them. I know from experience that if I let myself I can easily slip into a creative stupor.
When in that lull or in that space between creativity, it may seem like nothing is happening. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. We need that break.
When in this state I feel sensitive and quick to take things personally. I could just do nothing and give in to the disappointment when things have not gone as I have expected. Alternatively, I could use this as motivation, a starting point for another creative endeavor.
But self-doubt has a way of getting under your skin. For me I begin to feel an uprising of the “you’re not good enough” gremlins inside me when this happens.
I remember when this happened after something I submitted online was not accepted. It felt like a rejection. “Forget it then!” belted out a voice inside with the force of a 2 year-old having a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way.
But then another voice from deep within countered it with an equally persistent protest: “Why?” it asked, “Just write something different and submit the other to someone else!” It was the voice of my muse, the very same one who had helped me to write that first post.
When I had been writing and creating at numerous other times and felt discouraged and ready to give up, my muse told me in no uncertain terms to stop whining and start creating.
My muse also told me to use my experience—all those discouraged, annoyed, or excited feelings to fuel my writing.
The message was:
“Trust your self, use what you have inside to create.”
With the right attitude you can bring any goal into being; it’s all a matter of perspective.
So I can trust myself, listen to my inner muse, and try again, or I can give in to the gremlins that discourage persistence, positivity, and faith in one’s self.
It’s a choice one has to make with anything in life: to either believe in yourself or allow yourself to be sucked into self-pity and feelings of self-doubt.
I know I am not alone in this battle of wills. It’s a struggle for a lot of creatives, new and seasoned, to push on through for their visions to be birthed. It is easy enough to get lost in the sea of other creations out there.
Trying to navigate through them without comparing yourself to others’ successes can be difficult.
Muting the voices of self-doubt gremlins can be quite a feat. Here are some things that can help you trust yourself again when feeling defeated:
1. Ground yourself.
If you find yourself being pulled into negative thoughts stemming from past experiences or comments from others, staying present is key to being able to focus on the positive.
Sometimes it’s as simple as getting outside in nature. For others, meditating may help. I love walking meditations out in nature where I notice the details of my surroundings without judgment.
2. Balance the negative.
If you find that voices of the critical gremlins (both inner and outer) are way too loud, drown them out (or at least balance them) with your own chants of self-praise.
This can be hard when you’re in a real funk and find it difficult to access encouraging words for your self. To counter these voices you may find it helpful to write down 5 to 10 positive things about yourself in a handy mini notepad.
Whenever the gremlins strike with their undermining comments of “You’re not good enough,” whip out your book and read out loud words of praise for your self.
3. Take a break.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by what you perceive as not going so well, take some time away from that project and focus on something totally different. Sometimes shifting our focus away from what we are stuck on helps us take a new perspective when we come back to it.
Doodle, scribble, paint with your hands. Put on your favorite music and move around.
4. Nurture yourself.
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of self-doubt when we forget to take care of our own needs.
Make sure you have enough play time (away from work to balance the work and play). Be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water throughout the day, get enough sleep, and eat healthily.
Keep a gratitude art journal where you pick a picture out of a magazine or from online and choose one to three things a day that you are thankful for.
5. Connect with others.
While it is important to strengthen your self-love muscles, it is just as important to get the support you need from others. Whether this is from friends, family, or a professional therapist or coach, getting reassurance or help from others can make a big difference.
Sometimes just the reassurance that you are not the only one who gets stuck or has moments of self-doubt can help you shift a “why me” attitude.
What helps you overcome doubt in your abilities?
Photo by Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden
About Petrea Hansen-Adamidis
Petrea Hansen-Adamidis is an Art Therapist and founder of Art Therapist Drawing the Self Out where she offers resources to help you connect more deeply with your inner muse. She is creator of Free Your Inner Child a free e-course, and Dream Dialogues e-course.