Pushing through nasty self-doubt

Last week I decided to gift myself a 3.5 day workweek at the temp job, so I could get some extra rest and catch up on my business.

After a 3.5 day weekend I have added 3 new pieces to my second Etsy store loveandthebreath, one of which (pictured below) is now live.

I picked up a load of vintage stamps from an antiques fair and I’ve been enjoying exploring the mixed media style.

However that’s not why I’m writing this blog post.

I’m writing this because the first thing I did today, as I sat down for my final painting session of the weekend, was decide I’d just have a quick browse at the best way to photograph art canvases.

That’s how it started. So innocently!

Clicking onto Google Images I started to scroll, admiring the pieces and noting with casual objectivity the lighting and background of each photo.

Then I noticed an art piece made of stamps.

I clicked to enlarge it. Then I clicked on the ‘View More’ link beside it.

Long story short, I ended up on Pinterest scrolling through hundreds of ‘Postage Stamp Art’ boards as I got an increasingly nasty sinking feeling in my stomach. Oh yeah, and I started holding my breath!

Without meaning to, I had made myself feel like proper shit. I was suddenly confronted with loads of art that, naturally, obviously, was way more professional-looking and creative and just more deserving of a presence on this earth than mine.

I started to feel like a fraud. I was imagining that the minute my art goes live online I’m going to get bombarded with angry comments and emails telling me it’s crap and offensive and overpriced.

It actually made me feel sick, and I still feel sick hours later (thanks anxiety, THANKS!).

Normally I would’ve given into it and run upstairs to climb into bed and hide.


This time, I persevered. How?

Well first I searched for uplifting music on YouTube: I found a long instrumental piece, one of those 2 hour spa soundtracks, and stuck that on, and concentrated on it. It was extremely hard at first because the last thing I wanted to do at that point was create anything, but it quickly took the edge off the power of my horrible self-doubting thoughts because I was distracted away from panicking about my breath and my imminent humiliation and failure.

And then I asked myself, which would make me feel better when I am sitting at my temp job on Monday morning:

  1. Thinking about the art pieces I told colleagues I was taking time off to create, and did indeed start, but didn’t manage to complete because I wimped out (plus added bonus: ridiculing and berating myself for calling myself an artist), or;
  2. Thinking about the art pieces I pushed through massive mental discomfort to complete and post online, and wondering who might be looking at them right now and thinking ‘cor that’s good’ and considering making a purchase?

That thought together with the distracting but peaceful music got me through.

Not only did it get me through; it got me to a place where I could still create despite how I felt.

Next time you get that sick heavy feeling in your tummy because your self-doubt is starting to kick in, try blasting some music – any music you can stand to hear in that moment – and then reframe the task you want to accomplish, in a way that makes you feel empowered not guilt-tripped.

Tell yourself the threat is in your head.

Be brave. Oh, and breathe. That’s important too.


2 thoughts on “Pushing through nasty self-doubt

  1. Pingback: Everyone is better than me! | Freedom, Birdie!

  2. Pingback: The Shitty Bit | Freedom, Birdie!

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