Saturday, 14 September 2013

Feeling upbeat and Inspired?

What do you do when you’re feeling upbeat and inspired and your checking out other artists work, leaving encouraging comments on their site and then you start feeling a tinge of doubt about your own work creep in.  It feels like nothing you do is right, then the only voice you can hear is the one telling you ‘you’re not good enough’?  How have you dealt with the self doubt and the under currents of anxiety that dismisses your accomplishments or efforts and leaves you insecure and wanting to climb into bed with the covers over your head.  How have your dealt with the opinions of others that appear to come from way ‘off base’ and while feeling hurt you try and explain but your not given a chance to give your point of view and you ask yourself ‘just what have I been doing all these years?

I think that we all at sometime feel these things or hear the quiet murmurings of ‘really’ or ‘you call that art’ or the niggling ‘whatever it is you do your never going to be as good as that person down the road.....’  In fact I know we do, the difference is how we deal with it and whether we allow ourselves to be paralysed. 

I am not one of these people that go around waiting for the next tragedy to strike and I normally deal with challenges looking at all the positive things, making the necessary adjustments and seeing how it can turn it round for good.  I looked at the problem and try and see how we can make some lemonade out of the selection of lemons and limes in my midst. That being said there are sometimes where you can’t stop yourself from being paralysed in the moment and my 'take' on it is that you do have to embrace the fear/doubt/discouragement and the rest, really sit down with them and allow them to voice their opinions.  It’s not a ‘let’s throw a pity party’ that last for days but let’s sit down over coffee’ or in my case ‘spice tea’ and let’s hear what you have got to say about my life and the things I want to achieve. 

As I get older, I am learning to use a variety of tools to enable me to stop myself from sinking into the 'doubt spiral' but I accept that it will come.  It can be that thing that either carries us down with it or allows us to step up and over and make the next achievement. My spiral of down though didn’t come after a series of unfortunate events - through there have been several that were standing in line waiting for their moment in the spotlight.  It actually came as I was in the throes of planning and organising my work. I am taking part in The Challenge and one of the questions last week was to list 20 people you admire in your particular field, so I did and I will share them with you in another post. As I spent time with the list and revisiting their sites I began to feel a passing cloud, very subtle, but distinctly filled with a series of questions that started with... ‘you’ll never...’  I was admiring all these artists work and there I was feeling bad about myself and my abilities. Calling a general emergency meeting, I called on 'Current' and 'Past' achievements.  I allowed 'Doubt' to state its’ case and it seemed that as I was being encouraged connecting with different artists and making plans of my own it had been met with some resistance.  'The Critic' in its' efforts to protect me from the world was unsure how these so called positive changes would be perceived by others.  'Vulnerability' wanted things to stay the same and 'Insecurity' was by no means shy at stating what a bad idea change could be. I know change can bring up a whole range of issues that need to be addressed and it can either be supported through the process or hijacked.  

I called on Achievement to do a ‘past and present and potential futures’ presentation.  This was met with some trepidation and murmuring as they tried to allow Comparison the floor space. Needing to have the final word I had been taking notes of the proceedings and began to remind myself of all the things I had achieved, both big and small.  Like Marmite - not everyone will want to hear your story or experience that you have to offer but you know that there is at least one person somewhere around the world who wants to hear what you have to say, or would love to play your videos, take your courses and buy your art work.  I had to remind myself that I had come a long way in the last 5 years, and that Comparison does not play on a level field.  

When someone presents their work, you don’t usually see the trials they have been through to get to that point.  The technique videos they made before you saw the ones you were inspired by.  Other artists continue to share their vulnerability but they too have to fight and work hard to get to where they are despite how they feel. 

So despite how I feel in the moment I can still encourage, I can still look for the gems hidden by the dirt and the dust, I can still feel the rays of sun on my skin or feel the breeze and hear the chattering of the birds or the rain on the window and be inspired.  Despite how I feel there are still things I can do to get where I want to go -  from learn a new skill – take a course.  Despite how I feel I am still going to try my hand at those technique videos, write and illustrate those stories, complete those large paintings I started over a year ago.  Despite how I feel, I am still going to write those posts and hit publish cause I know I am not alone in the way I sometimes feel.....  

I will remind myself of my previous achievement both large and small and keep moving and share my story with the world.  I remind myself and would like to remind you if you get this far in the post that what you have within you is a gift that the world deserves to be part of.  Each thing that you create, be it art, a poem, a song, whatever it is, was not meant for you to hide.  You were meant to shine your light!  

Everything you create out of love is meant for a home and someone somewhere in the world is praying for the miracles that are coming out of the creative gifts that you are supposed to share in whatever form that it takes. Alongside the reminder of what I have done or what I can do, the gratitude’s and celebration journal has kept me grounded and whilst the spirals of doubt will come, finding the tools and using them appropriately is the key.  Yes you know you have gifts, talents and abilities, but what are you going to do when out of the blue doubt and his friends show up? Here are some examples of things to try: 

  • Acknowledge how you feel 
  • Try and identify where it is coming from, 
  • Identify what your needs are – do you need to learn a skill or get support in stepping out.  
  • Find someone you trust to share your feelings. 
  • Acknowledge where you are  
  • Look back on how far you have come, identify the triumphs amidst the trials, look at the changes that have been made, look at the challenges you have faced and that you have come out the other end with a story to share. 
  • Acknowledge what you really want;
  • Be truthful about where do you what to go, what support systems need to be put in place, and most importantly what steps can you make today? 

Recycled 'cereal bag' journal

Get yourself a journal or create something, that you can be honest in and write or draw about how you feel and look for the solutions.  When the fears and doubt come take a step back, hear what it is that they have to say, note it down, but once you have addressed them move on.  I would love to hear your comments of how you deal with your critic and the doubt spiral and what creative activities do you enlist to support the process.


  1. Thank you for this post Amanda, very thought provoking on this early Saturday morning, I will chew on what you have proposed. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Doubt are always on the job, I don't think they ever take a day off.

    1. Hi Brenda, thanks for the visit, the pair are always lurking!

  2. What a rich post, here you are touching on so many different aspects of doubt and confidence... It seems we are all trapped in this phenomenon of comparing ourselves to others, and for some reason, we tend to always compare with those who seem to achieve more, be more confident etc, forgetting that perhaps, a lot of people would envy us for a number of reasons we are not even aware of. This "comparing-ourselves ladder" becomes like a poison. I agree that we should only compare ourselves with ourselves. That's the only relevant comparison to make, and I think that is what you are saying here. I love how you define the different inner personas here, because yes, these are inner battles, or at least debates. And I love your art work!

    1. Thank you so much for your visit, we have to make an effort to renew our mind on a daily basis, hope your week is going well so far!

  3. Hi Amanda .. great that you're following along the Challenge and it's throwing ideas out for you. You've so many talents - but sometimes we trip over own perceptions, which is crazy as we have so much to offer life in general - we're all giving what we can, understanding where we can ... and generally moving on. However your thoughts about re-evaluation must be so helpful .. I don't dwell usually - and now like you am progressing forward into new waters.

    You are so creative and with so much imagination - I love seeing what you're doing .. and just wish I had that energy!! Cheers to you .. Hilary

    1. Hey there Hilary, the Challenge is really throwing up some interesting revelations and making the working process really accessible!

  4. Amanda, have you ever thought of teaching what you do to a special group? Sometimes doing something entirely different helps. I love your cereal bag journal; the portrait is lovely. I get together with a friend every two weeks and we paint for two hours (oil). We stick to the time limit which helps us focus. It's just for our enjoyment and to try different techniques. Thanks for your visit.

  5. Writing is just like any other artwork too. Sometimes people question what you write as they do what you paint or draw or create.

    I've developed a thick skin, I think.

    You are an amazing artist.


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