Before we jump in: This article was originally shared with my email community in October 2017. I'm sharing it with you on the blog today in the hope that it may be of some encouragement and insight to you in your creative journey right now, and also give you a little sneak peak of what you can expect from Weekly Letters too. If you'd like to receive letters like this one straight to your inbox every Sunday, you can sign up below. You'll also have access to over 100 past Weekly Letters too!
One of the things I see my clients and creative friends battle with the most is confidence.
Sometime’s it doesn’t matter how crazy talented you are, if there’s something deep within you that struggles to believe that you’re good enough, that you’re worthy of taking up space in the world with your craft and your ideas, it can be crippling along the way.
And many times the advice we’re given around how to deal with our lack of confidence can be really unhelpful. We can be told to just get over it, to pull ourselves together, that we should be over this already.
But I think that it can be so much more complicated than that.
I don’t believe we can always just get over our biggest fears, the darkest stories that we tell ourselves, and the self-limiting beliefs that have been haunting us for years.
I believe that we can be bigger than them, that we can overcome them, and that we can find the strength not to let them define us, but it can take time, a whole lot of self-compassion, and patience and grace with ourselves too.
So if you’re battling with your confidence in your creative work and life right now, here’s my encouragement to you:
Get to the heart of it
Your confidence struggles exist for a reason.
Maybe someone you admire told you once that you’re not good enough. Maybe the people who were meant to raise and nurture you didn’t do a very good job. Maybe you’ve just been crushed too many times.
Painful, horrible, heartbreaking things can happen to us in our lives. Some big, some small, but they all can affect how we feel about ourselves and our place in the world. Diving deep into our life experiences and the stories we’ve been telling ourselves for years can help us connect the dots and see what’s led us to where we are now.
But don’t live there
This is where I think many of us can start to get stuck. Once we bear witness to the things that may have shaped and affected our confidence, it’s easy to start to feel defeated, overwhelmed, and maybe even a little angry about the things that were cruel or out of our control. But nothing good comes from that place - we can’t thrive if we live there.
It’s our job to move forward, to rewrite those stories that we’ve been telling ourselves, to commit to cultivating confidence in our craft and in ourselves every day moving forward, and to do the hard work of letting go of the things that cannot serve us along the way.
Surround yourself with the right things
Everything we surround ourselves with shapes our perspective and experience. From our friendships and relationships, to the things we watch, read, and listen to, to how we spend our days and how we treat our bodies and our minds - it all matters.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you, who inspire you, and who cheer you on every step of the way. Consume content and ideas that push you to be the very best version of yourself, and ignore the noise that makes you feel small or overwhelmed. Take care of yourself - never underestimate the importance of nurturing your mind and your body. Fill your days with the things that bring you joy, that inspire you to take action, that support you to show up with a whole heart to your work and your life.
Focus on your craft, not your fears
You’re always going to feel afraid at different points in this journey - that’s just an unavoidable part of living a creative life. But I’ve learned over and over again - in both my own journey and in my clients and creative friends too - that when we devote our time and energy to honing, growing, and nurturing our craft, that’s how we can truly cultivate confidence in our creative work and life.
The more we show ourselves what we’re capable of, the more we build momentum in our work and our business, and the more we become comfortable with our crappy first drafts and the work it takes to get to our best work, the more confident, clarified, and focused we will feel along the way. Don’t let your self-doubt and fear distract you from becoming the crazy-awesome creative that you’re meant to be.
You’re the one who your lack of confidence hurts the most
This is something I have reminded myself of often - if I give into my fears, if I let my self-doubt take the wheel, the person who suffers the most is me. Nobody said that it would be easy - facing ourselves, our biggest fears, and our toughest experiences, and choosing to believe that we are capable of more and that we are worthy of running in the direction of a creative work and life that feels most true to us takes a whole lot of courage. Cultivating confidence in ourselves, our work, and our craft takes time - we have to show up each day, even when it feels like there’s a monster in our head telling us we should quit, and push through all of our crap so we can get to the good stuff.
But here’s something I believe to be true: it’s always, always, worth it. Because once we start to believe in ourselves, once we bear witness to our gifts, strengths, and creativity, we can start to do incredible work in the world and truly start to build for ourselves an impactful, fulfilling, and sustainable creative life.
So if you feel like your lack of confidence will always be the thing to hold you back from building the creative work and life that you’re aching for, my hope is today’s email can hold some space for you to dive a little deeper and encourage you to explore what cultivating confidence in your creative work and life can look like for you.
As always, I’m rooting for you!
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Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash