When poet Sylvia Plath said, “The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt,” she perfectly described what all creatives eventually face: the pit in your stomach feeling of I’m not good enough.
Whether your passion is using a pen or paintbrush, you know that disgusting self-doubt taste and the bitterness it can bring to your career. You start to question your worth, discourage yourself from sharing, feel too paralyzed to progress, and wonder whether anything you’ve ever created is actually good.
How do you battle it? How do you turn self-doubt around to make your career instead of break it?
1. Avoid Comparison
When self-doubt creeps in, it’s normal to compare ourselves to others for the satisfying validation that we’re not totally lousy. But instead of feeling better, we usually feel even more insecure. (She’s way more talented. She has way more followers…where does that leave me?)
Rather than looking to other people for validation, it’s better to build up acceptance from inside yourself. Of course, this doesn’t just happen; confidence takes work. But in the meantime, you can collect all of the nice things anyone’s ever said about you, whether it’s a testimonial, a text from a friend, or a note from your mom.
Read your collection in place of those jealousy-inducing Instagram bios. It’s a great way to not only break that comparison habit but also supercharge your self-belief!
2. Let Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism is a common theme for creatives because we put so much attention and love into our projects. We care a lot– more than most. However, those unrealistic goals only strap us in for failure, imposter syndrome, and burnout.
Instead, graciously allow yourself to let go of perfectionism and step into messy, flawed courage. This way self-doubt can’t completely disable your decisions. You’re not perfect. And you never will be, so why not try that one thing you don’t think you’re good at anyway?
3. Practice Authenticity
Sometimes we feel self-doubt, but we’re too ashamed to talk about it. We don’t want to be seen as scared or weak, so we end up hiding and almost glorifying our negative feelings for comfort to avoid a scary choice. It becomes this huge game of “I can’t” or “I’ll never be,” when really, we just need a reality check.
For this to happen though, we have to be honest and authentic with both ourselves and our trusted support crews. Maybe you have a much deeper root connection to self-doubt that you need to uncover or maybe you just need someone to tell you how amazing you are.
You won’t know until you get real.
4. Unlock the Trial + Error Mindset
Self-doubt loves this question: what if I fail? Fearing failure has stalled and blocked a lot of creative careers, but failure isn’t inherently bad. You’re not effing up; you’re just finding out what doesn’t work.
Try. Fail. Grow. Repeat. Unlocking this trial and error mindset can do wonders for easing self-doubt, because it lessens the fear factor and upgrades creative spirit to next-level girl boss status.
Fear isn’t going to stop you. You’ve got lessons to learn.
5. Watch Your Self-Talk
Have you ever shared your creative pieces with “It still needs some work” or “I know it’s not very good”? These seemingly harmless statements discredit our concepts before we even let others form their own opinions. Talk about fueling self-doubt!
Next time you find yourself downplaying your creations, replace the negative descriptions with “I’ve put a lot of time into this, and I really enjoyed creating it” or “I’ve come so far, and it speaks volumes to my progress.” And say them out loud! It’s a fantastic way to boost your morale.
Dance with Your Doubts
Self-doubt is human, and it’s only bad if you let it control your life. Acknowledge those doubts. Dance with them. Tango. Then let them go.
You can do anything you put your mind to. It’s just you vs. you, and you got this.