When I start a new creative project, I am full of hope, excitement, and artistic drive to birth it into being, but inevitably, like a wet blanket, doubt will show itself, pressing pause on any scrap of joy.
I suppose doubt was once useful for human development in keeping us alive. Skeptics perhaps took less risks leading to self-preservation. (Note: I am making all of this up. I really have no idea.) But, I imagine that doubting whether a berry might be food or actually poison may have helped someone live another day.
In the realm of creativity, doubt can keep us safe, and safety within creativity is kind of boring. So, it’s really difficult to determine if the doubt that arises during a creative endeavor is functioning as an objective critic or as a wet blanket.
For instance, maybe your moment of hesitation leads to questioning a “safe” idea. The objective critic can actually be quite productive and useful within creativity in pushing lame ideas further out of our comfort zones.
On the other hand, doubt can prevent us from giving ourselves permission. It can feed our fear that we are worthless - making it so easy for us to squelch our creative endeavors.
Whenever doubt surfaces, it’s very important to figure out where it is it coming from. Most of the time it is not coming from the objective critic, but instead from outside sources such as family, society, and peers. We’ve internalized these external critics that seek to keep us from living to our fullest potential.
People are threatened by original thought and creativity, because it makes them question their own self-prohibiting choices in life. If they made sacrifices to squelch their own creative endeavors, then it is damn near threatening to them if you pursue yours. Therefore, they repeat their own doubts to you. It is all too easy to absorb them and make them your own.
I should know. I am constantly on the verge of giving up, but I am so thankful to the close family and friends that are supportive, who extinguish doubt rather than fuel it. So much gratitude to those helpful humans!!!
Also, if I want doubters to back off and not project their fear onto me, then I must to do the same to others. I admit that I need to get better at hating less and believing more. If I believe in others, it’s much easier to believe in myself. There is enough for all of us, and I truly wish for everyone to fulfill their wildest creative dreams. I truly believe, the only way that we will survive as humans is if we materialize our craziest, creative dreams. So, be gone doubt, and get back to work creative humans! I believe in you!!!
How does doubt impact your creative endeavors?
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.