Belief Versus Doubt — Welcome To The Creative Mind
You have the angelic you on one shoulder, and the devilish you on the other. The battle of right vs wrong, good vs evil, and confidence vs crisis.
“It’s amazing that you have started a business. You are amazing. This isn’t something everyone is capable of doing you know” whispers the angel. You smile at the angel. The angel is lovely.
“This is a disaster. You are not good enough to do this. You’re a fucking idiot. Did you think you could do this? Don’t make me laugh. You are going to fail, and I am going to remind you of it for the rest of your life” snarls the devil, because the devil is a bastard, even with those cute little horns.
You know the angel is right, but for some reason, the devil’s words resonate the loudest.
And with those words, the doubt settles in.
The Internal Battle Of The Mind.
Welcome to the crazy minds of entrepreneurs, founders, and creatives alike, full of sparks, ideas, buzz and crippling doubt.
It is easy to look at a creative, or an entrepreneurial person and assume that they do what they do because they were always 100% confident they had what it takes to make it.
And maybe some do. Maybe some folks do have that inner belief that this is their destiny, and success will be achieved.
But most don’t.
I certainly don’t.
For me, it is a daily struggle with collapses in self confidence.
My little devil’s whispers seems to have more weight and influence in every decision and aspect of my thinking.
Imposter syndrome is rife. A fear of being ‘found out’, even though there isn’t really anything to be found out.
No matter how it appears on the outside, I am not confident. I am not assured that I have made the right choice. I don’t know which way I am going, and why.
I founded a startup because I wanted to be in control of my working life and be in a position to make other people’s wants come true. And I have been able to achieve that.
But the life I have chosen, in reality, means I have to battle a lack of self confidence all too often.
You Don’t Suffer From Doubt? I Doubt It.
I cannot help but self doubt.
If you don’t, and live in a state of such confidence and assurance that you are incapable of any self doubt, you must be a millionaire. Or some kind of T-800 robot. Or both.
For most of the world, it is a common threat to creative output and something that rears its ugly head far too often.
I am not a billionaire, and not of robotic form last time I checked, and thus I am also susceptible to self doubting.
What if nobody likes it? What if no one buys it? Does anybody think I am doing the right thing? Today I lost an Instagram follower… why? Am I fucking up? Why did they pick me when they could have got this made by someone better?
My doubt is born from fear of failure.
To attempt to prevent failure, I adopt a critical view of my own work, and self. In truth, the effects of this can cripple my creative process, and at worst perhaps even end it.
Doubt is also a as a survival instinct, and in a situation of of danger, or perhaps life and death, it serves its purpose. But in day to day work, when there is no danger, it serves only to hinder our output.
I wish I could install an on/off switch on mine.
Beware Of The Imposter.
‘Imposter Syndrome’ is another doubt related issue that I struggle to shake. It is a strange, irrational fear of being found out, and because of it, not really being able to internalise accomplishments, or enjoy them.
It’s like some fucked up Scooby Doo episode, where the gang have discovered me posing as a creative. They chase me down in the Mystery Machine, and in a melee of humorous chasing antics and Scooby snacks, catch me after my latest project, take off my mask, and reveal me to be a fraud.
“And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” I shout as I am dragged off into the police van.
I can’t explain Imposter Syndrome. I don’t know why the creative mind has an inability to believe it is doing good things, and to enjoy them.
I don’t know why I automatically assume my work won’t be to standard, or that people will find flaws in it.
It is even stranger because these flaws don’t occur often. The work I put out meets the client’s wishes 99% of the time, and even problems that arise are usually ironed out…
Yet my mind is always torn with a fear of being ‘found out’. That someone will pull off the mask and expose all my flaws.
I’m always looking over my shoulder for that damn Mystery Machine, and that damn dog.
Attempting To Deal With The Doubt.
The internet would have you believe beating self doubt is as easy as reading articles such as ‘10 ways to beat self doubt’ or ‘5 steps to overcoming your creative doubt’, and adding the recommended steps to your daily creative routine.
Hmm, that seems like…
…Bollocks. Doubt is part of the human mental build, a natural instinct, it cannot be beaten.
You cannot rid yourself of doubts. It is a case of dealing with them, day to day, project to project. And that is difficult enough.
An important step is to ignore other people’s self doubts, and tackle your own first.
Your work will always come under scrutiny (except from your mother — she will always love your work), but you have to realise that other people’s doubt will only further your own — you have to block them out.
Producing any kind of work for the public eye takes balls, and these balls can only grow if you stand by your work, and truly believe in it.
When faced with the haters, ‘shake it off’, and be sure to remind yourself why you love your work, why the piece is right for it’s purpose, and why you will continue to prove them all wrong.
Have the courage to be imperfect. Tell yourself that you are a work-in-progress, moving along the learning curve all the time.
Self doubt can cripple a business, but learning to deal with it can help build a better one.
By winning each small battle, and overcoming each challenge it presents you, you will learn to deal with it.
Once you are on top of it, you will find it becomes a manageable issue, and your work will rest easy, knowing it is not constantly under the scrutiny of your own doubt. You will stop shying away from projects and clients. You will talk glowingly about your work to others.
Once you are in control of your self doubt, you can push on, full of confidence and belief, and achieve all of your goals.
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