Self-Doubt: The Killer of Creativity

Self-doubt kills creativity. It is the red-handed murderer of every project I've never started.  Mere thoughts stand in the way of the very things I desire most. I am constantly telling myself that I am not capable, that I am not good enough, and that I am not worthy. These thoughts have become so natural and automatic that they don't even seem to phase me. The worst part is that they continue to exist without question and have thus become my personal glass ceiling. These reoccurring thoughts have gotten into the habit of popping up uninvited and staying without a second thought. This on going struggle between wanting to create and telling myself that I can’t sometimes leaves me in a place of purgatory, not sure which part of myself to believe.  In the end, self-doubt is just an excuse to remain creatively, personally, and emotionally stagnant.

Self-doubt kills creativity because it prevents you from starting in the first place. Simple as that. When your mind is only bombarded with reasons why you can’t do something, you naturally just tend to believe it. Self-doubt may just be a defense mechanism; a way that the ego prevents possible future hurt and failure by preventing you from doing something in the first place. Putting yourself out there and exposing the deepest parts of your being through your work means that you are vulnerable. And, according to the ego, vulnerability is something to be avoided at all costs. So it makes sense that the ego wants to protect you, but that doesn't mean the lies it feeds you contain any truth. The ego may help to prevent inevitable rejection and disappoint, but it is doing more harm than good because in the end it is only preventing you from expression yourself and bringing something beautiful into existence.

If considered a defense mechanism, that means self-doubt (or similar line of thought) may always exist, and that is fine. This ongoing and uninspiring dialog in our heads only becomes debilitating when we believe it. But how can we not? It is so easy to believe the thoughts that constantly flood our minds especially when those are the thoughts we choose to focus our attention on. It is so easy to give in, to silently confess that we are right and then to simply just step aside and not even try. Whatever creativity we think we have or are capable of is so softy and quietly killed by the belief that we can’t. By the belief that there is no point in even trying because we are only destined to fail. Our motivation to even begin becomes crippled, but maybe we are better off that way because it means less embarrassment and far less effort. Ultimately it means less hurt. By giving into our fears, we are choosing the easy way out. We are choosing to believe the lies we tell ourselves with hopes that it will prevent pain in the long run. This is ultimately only hurting ourselves. We are choosing to live a life far below our true potential and far from the life that we envisioned for ourselves.

But the thing is, no matter how capable, how intuitive, and how innovative you are, these internal demons exist without discrimination. They do not reflect the individual or a person’s capabilities; they represent the human psyche as a whole. But past the realm of self-doubt, the ego, and its defenses lies the desire to create. And that desire to create will constantly in the back of your mind driving you crazy with its steady nagging unless you do something about it. Self-doubt can quiet that need to act, but it cannot rid of it completely. This is because that desire comes from a place of curiosity and expression which is the true self, not of a place of fear and criticism which is the ego. If you have the desire to create something, it will not go away until it has been fully expressed. The choice becomes listening to your inner critic and staying still or venturing out into the unknown which is the birthplace of creativity change.

The triumph comes when we recognize that self-doubt will exist but we choose to proceed without giving into its fears and concerns. It comes down to believing that you are worthy of creating the very things your soul calls on you to create. Your art is not a manifestation of the soul, it is the soul. Your art, your soul, and your being have a place in this existence and you have the right as much as anyone else to occupy this endless creative space. Accepting that self-doubt exists is key, but you must also accept that it can kill your creativity ONLY if you let it. These creatively crippling thoughts are going to exist, the choice we must make is how we are going to live with them. We must live with the fact that we will experience times when we are our own worst enemy and unfortunately it may happen more often than not. So let self-doubt exist, but become detached from it. Sit with it, but do not entertain its lies. Don’t believe everything you think.

Want to go further down the rabbit hole? Listen to Episode 19: Self Doubt 101.  In this episode, I explore the concept of self doubt and why it can be harder to face than anything outside of us. Self-doubt is defined the lack of confidence in one own’s motives, abilities, and even thoughts. But what exactly do those doubt show up as and how do they prevent us from moving forward? I am attempting to look my self doubts in the face in order to eventually move past them.



Because Pursuing the Creative Path is Painful

Pursuing the creative path is difficult. Far more difficult than I thought it would be. This spiritual journey that I am on is showing me that there is far more that lives in my inner world than I was initially aware of. While part of the journey is discovering what is down there, another part is allowing that aspect of you to come out and to be seen. 

I want to create. 

I want to pull out whatever is inside of me. 

I want to push the boundaries of what I think I am capable of. 

Even though I know there is something that wants to be expressed, the voice inside of my head is telling me that I can’t create the beautiful things that I want to in this lifetime because I am not the one worthy of holding that paintbrush. 

I left the states about 6 months ago with the intent to embrace the unknown and pursue whatever creative passions come my way. I was so sure that this physical freedom would offer the creative space and inspiration that I needed. But recently, the vision of what I want to express is oddly becoming clearer yet more unobtainable at the same time. Almost as if there is a distance between what is inside of me and the means in which I can express it. This voice telling me to create has always been there but not it is becoming harder to ignore. As this voice grows, the justifications of ignoring it become less and less.

I want to embrace it. 

I want to engulf myself in it. 

Unfortunately, there is a louder voice in my head telling me that I shouldn’t, or worse, that I can’t. In so many aspects of my life, I let that horribly negative voice rule my thoughts and ultimately my actions. I will be the first to admit that I am my own worst enemy, But more recently I am finding the strength to say no and refuse to be defeated by myself any longer.I have let fear kill my creativity for far too long. Instead of pushing the fear aside, I know that the very thing that I must do is walk straight through it. To feel it, understand it, and then to let it go. 

I want to creative. 

I want to build the life that I am proud of.

But I am terrified. 

I am not terrified that what I create will not live up to my expectations. No. My fears are still in the infant stage. I am afraid that I cannot create at all. I am not afraid that the book I write will be horrible, instead, I am afraid that I can’t write that book in the first place. That I mentally cannot do it. I am afraid that I am not worthy of what I want. That going in the directions of what I want will ultimately chew me up and spit me out. 

What do I have to offer to this world? 


Someone has already done it or every other person besides me can do it better. I have nothing to contribute so why even bother. Why expose the very pieces of my soul that I have kept safe only to be tainted by the rejections and cruelty of this world. Anything that I put my heart into ultimately becomes evidence of me exposing myself to the world. My soul is not good enough. I am not worthy.

Sometimes I let my fears and insecurities get the best of me. Sometimes I just sit and stare at a blank page with something to say, yet I am not able to physically get the words on the paper. In those moments, my fear is right and I am defeated. In those moments I give up because that is proof that I can’t.

Even though there are moments that I feel defeated, I have to know that those feelings won’t last. Battling fear, insecurities, and doubts are not just part of the creative process, but part of the pursuit of anything worth doing or any risk worth taking. They can debilitate us but they can also be the fuel to the fire that we need. Having these doubts and insecurities is inevitable, but letting them control you is a choice and I refuse to give up even before I begin. I refuse to let my fears run my life. Beginning the path you truly and undoubtedly want is not easy. In fact, it can be terrifying and sometimes painful. I am not trying to run from my fears, instead, I am laying them all out on the table. 

Life is a beautiful struggle and finding your way is just a small piece to that puzzle. Part of that beauty is being exactly where you are in spite of the heartache it took to get you there. Sometimes we have to understand our pain in order to emerge from it. And sometimes part of that understanding is creating something from it.

So today I choose to look at my fears and self-doubt head on because I know that I must walk through them in order to move past them. Today I choose the path to create the life I want to live, regardless of what the voice inside my head is telling me. Today I choose to create, even if it hurts.