Well, as you know I wrote that book, The Little Spark–30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, and it is coming out in October (!). In my book I offer 30 “Sparks” to help you on your path to living a more creative, passionate life. One chapter addresses the self-doubts and fears we all have as we tackle a new craft, hobby or passion. People often ask me how I deal with self-doubt and so here is a little list to inspire you to kick your doubts and fears in the butt and start believing in YOU so you can follow your bliss:
- Live your life like no one is watching. Because guess what? No one really is. Except maybe the lucky few who know you well and who you allow in. If you live your life as if you are invisible, then you are free to behave however you want because you are under the (false) notion that no one cares. But people care. And they are curious. We are social creatures and so we are all constantly craning our necks to see each other. But just for a day or an hour here and there, liberate yourself from the perceived gaze so that you can just be you. Just be you in your state of false invisibility. The more you practice, the more you will realize that you have become very good at being you–no matter who is looking–then you can do it more often. When Allen Ginsburg set out to write his epic poem, Howl, he wrote it knowing that he would never show it to anyone. Look what happened. Acting as if no one is watching liberates the ego and allows us more freedom.
- Live your life like everyone is watching. Conversely, make the false assumption sometimes that everyone is watching you–that everyone cares about you and what your are doing. This is a cool exercise because although it is just as false as #1, it gives you an internal confidence boost (albeit a synthetic one). If we believe ourselves to be the center of attention, we call on a different form of grace and poise than in our normal relaxed state. That grace will serve you well on your path if you tap into it when you need it. The way to practice is to simply place yourself on a false stage and pretend you are the most interesting person on earth. Pretend people care about what you are doing. What happens when we perceive a false gaze? Do we lock down and become insecure or do we act as gracefully as we can and move forward? Try it.
- Watch everyone else. Witness people. Look at them as they go about their days–strangers, friends, family–people at the grocery. Watch them enough to see their humanity. Sometimes you will see anger or frustration and other times you’ll see their lightness, their love, their grace, but regardless, you will see their humanness and if you can see that in them without judging then you are more apt to see all of that richness in yourself and know that all of it is changing constantly and you won’t hook into the feelings as much. Love other humans. Today, try to smile at everyone you see. Amazing how that little act of connection creates a depth and incandescence in your life.
- Know that nothing is about you. In my 20’s and into my 30’s, I walked through the world fully aware that everything was about me. Everything. That is the typical self-involvement of youth. But then now, at 42, I am pretty sure that almost nothing is about me. Perhaps you have read The Four Agreements? Then you know what I am saying. But nonetheless, most of the time, most people are involved mostly in their own reality. They barely even can see your reality. This isn’t a bad thing. It just is. Once you know that we are all so busy living our own stories and our own version of reality, then you can let go of attachment and just float. Of course, sometimes stuff is about us…and we want to address that. But mostly, you just flit in and out of your friend’s consciousness much like the thoughts, “I need to floss,” and “should we have tacos for dinner?” (But, in family, this is a bit different…we are much more intertwined with each other’s reality, as we should be. We care so very much about each other.)
- Get to know your yuck…and also the ugly, the dirty, the sad, the tender, the afraid, ALL of the parts that make you you. The yuck of you has a name and the name is shame. Once you see your yuck and call it out, shine a light on it, and name it, it has a much harder time of lurking in the dark corners of you–waiting to sabotage you with self-doubt and terrible self-defeating messages. We have to accept and love ourselves for exactly who we are: imperfect and flawed. And because of that, we are more apt to like and accept the people we meet. I know myself to be flawed and I just hope that my friends accept my flaws as much as I accept theirs.
- All creativity requires great vulnerability. Watch this NOW. I know I tell my 12 readers this all the time (hi there, Marian) but if you haven’t watched Brené Brown’s TED talks on Shame and Vulnerability then you are missing something so big. Vulnerability is what allows us to reveal the depths of who we are to the world in attempt to share our story. Our vulnerability connects us to each other as we move through this life. Vulnerability is the treasure box where you will find your own gold. Ever wonder why people’s fake, pretty Facebook posts make you feel so bad? It is because when we act from a place of what I call Glossy Photograph, then we are photoshopping the nitty-gritty details out of our lives. If you are going to be creative, you will need your nitty-gritty wayyyy more than you will need Photoshop. No one wants to see fake. Everyone wants to see messy, real truth.
- Be your own friend. Like yourself. This one can take a while, but I hope that you do–because if you don’t, who will? When you like yourself, you give others permission to like you, too. When you like yourself, then you are your own little cheerleading fan-club of one. When you like yourself you can like others. So, liking yourself/loving yourself helps you connect so much more deeply to others.
- Remember your mini-YOU. Be so very gentle with yourself, because in you lives that little girl or boy you once were–your mini-YOU, your inner-child. If your mini-YOU came up to you and asked you how you would guide her to learn self-confidence and believe in herself, what would you tell her? Yep. That’s right. Close your eyes and speak to the little girl or boy you once were and give her your advice. She or he is you. There is no separation between you. Be so tender with yourself. Remember to speak to yourself in your daily life as though you were talking to this young child. This will give you temperance, kindness, humor and some perspective.
- Take one measured risk every day. I try to do about 5-10 truly productive things every day to move me towards my goals and also about one batshit crazy thing–one thing that is a total long-shot and wildly grandiose/ridculous. Like today: I submitted a silly video of me sitting at my computer to Ellen’s people…yes, Ellen DeGeneres. So much folly, I know. Probably and most likely, no one will watch it. I don’t even think their website robot will watch it. I just spoke to her people in this video from my kitchen table with wet hair and no make-up about what I could share for a video tutorial query they put on their site. Basically, for this step, I incorporated steps #1 and #2 because I know the odds are against anyone watching my little hello video and yet I acted as if they were. But this step also incorporates step #7 in a big way because I like myself enough to do such a silly and ridiculous thing because I know that if we don’t get out there and try…if we don’t dare greatly, as Brené Brown urges us to do, by entering the conversations, by leaning into the discomfort of putting oneself out there, then nothing will happen. But also, doing this measured risk-taking helps us fail–it helps us handle rejection. The more we submit and share our work, the more rejections we will receive. It happens. We can’t be discouraged by that. It is part of sharing.
- Remember that you are made of stars. There is something greater than you dwelling in your heart and mind. Call it whatever you want, but the fact remains–you are more vast than your body, your thoughts, your feelings. In your heart is an ocean. In your mind, the celestial turnings and the words of all poets. In your being there is limitless potential. You just have to know that. Where you have weaknesses, you can study, grow, practice. In so doing you polish the lamp of your brightness–and you can shine more brightly.
- and number 11 because I had to add this…whatever you do, stop putting yourself down, belittling yourself, hiding, walling yourself off, diminishing your light, your worth, or your value. Stop selling yourself short. Stop refusing compliments for your strengths. Stop deflecting, obfuscating, evading, sabotaging yourself in ANY way. And by that I mean such things as… “My butt is too big” or “It was no big deal.” or “I could never belly dance!” or “I can’t even draw a stick figure.” Guess what? No one believes you. So stop saying that stuff. Because the only person you hurt when you say such things is yourself. And reinforcing negative self-images only makes them more real. Also, if you have kids, never, ever, ever, ever do this in front of them…because you teach them to do the same thing. Do you want your daughter to one day shy away from her dreams and abilities because you were always diminishing yourself in front of her? Hell no. So stop it.
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” ― Rumi