Repeat after me: everyone doubts themselves and everyone has insecurities, even Adele. In an interview she said, "I have insecurities of course but I don't hang out with anyone who points them out to me." While everyone faces doubts and insecurities, self-doubt can effect individuals who are creative more intensely and even destroy creativity as a result. Why? People who are creative are often wired to experience things intensely, meaning that a doubt that someone else may have easily shrugged off, sticks around and plants roots.
Self-doubt is likely the greatest fear of creatives. So much of what we do is based on whether or not people will find what we do to be valuable enough to part with their money. Unlike a job with clear cut rules or necesitty, it can be easy to think that people could live without what you do. You may have even told yourself that or believed it to be true.
One minute you may feel on top of the world, and then the next your self-doubt leaves feeling paralyzed and directionless. An important thing to do before you can begin to work through your doubts and insecurities is understanding where they come from. Doubts can creep in based on a comment from a family member, a childhood criticism, a lull when you're not feeling creative, or even from comparison to others. How many times have you been scrolling along through social media feeling great until you see something that ignites the fire in your gut? Maybe it's a photographer who shot your dream client's wedding, or another entrepreneur getting recognized for their work. Within minutes you go from feeling good to thinking "Maybe I should just quit and give up this dream...maybe I'm not cut out for this!"
Perhaps you haven't ever felt just like that, but you have experienced doubts in other ways. Take a few minutes to list out the things, people, or situations that leave you feeling insecure or doubting your abilities. Doubts and insecurity are often based in low self-esteem in certain areas or relying on outside validation. These things often manifest themselves as fear of not measuring up to someone's expectations. Fear that not enough people like you..or that the right people don't like you. Being insecure can destroy a lot of good things in your life! In can cause you to be paralyzed, lose creativity, and even hurt relationships with people who are positive.
It is possible to harness your doubts and insecurities and find good in them...It's important to remember that when you have doubts, they can be pushing you towards something greater creatively. In fact, most people who end up going on to do extraordinary things have to go through a period of immense doubt in order to launch their idea or project. Anytime you do something new, it's going to be scary. I love this quote from Steven Pressfield.
He says, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”
The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Use your doubts as a spring board to move forward! Here are a few ways you can start combatting the doubts and insecurities you currently have:.
1) Understand where your doubts and insecurities comes from. Understanding what triggers your insecurity is invaluable when it comes to overcoming it! Once you understand who or what triggers your doubts and insecurities, try not to surround yourself with those people or things unless you have to!
Note: A trigger is anything (person, event, etc.) that causes you to feel a certain way, usually negative. An example of a trigger for doubts and insecurities could be a relative who constantly asks you what you do for a living and scoffs at your response of being an entrepreneur or seeing someone else who is successful and feeling like you're so far behind.
2) Reframe your doubts, with a positive affirmation. This could be something simple that you write down and hang on your mirror or carry with you on a daily basis. Keep it short and sweet, so that it is something you can easily remind yourself of when you're feeling less than!
3) Stop comparing yourself to others! It can be motivating to see other people who are successful, but it can also make you feel like you're not enough. Also know that whoever you're comparing yourself to is also likely doubting themselves too. Lots of comparison can come from the internet and social media. If you notice you constantly compare yourself to certain people or they make you feel less than, don't follow them! (This goes back to the avoiding triggers when you can idea)
4) Identify people who make you feel good about yourself. Spend time with them and strengthen your relationships with them. One of coolest ideas I've heard was to have "sticky note people". All you have to do is write the name of 3-5 people whose opinions you value over anyone else's on a sticky note. If someone not on the list says something to make you doubt yourself, remember that the person isn't someone's opinion you value!
5) Remind yourself of when you've been successful before. When you hit a wall or insecurity, it can be easy to stay in a funk. When you're feeling insecure, you brain remembers other times you've felt insecure and compounds them together. Some people keep notes from past clients or colleagues in an email file and read them. Find a good way that works for you!
6) Last, but not least...remember why you do what you do and don't lose sight of that. Let your purpose help drive away doubt and insecurities as they come up.
Be sure to sign up for announcements for Mental Health for Creatives and join the FREE Facebook group! What other struggles are you currently battling with as you navigate your small business journey? I would love to help! Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you may have or topics you would like to see covered in future posts.