Anxiety is Part of the Creative Process
Does your anxiety spill over into self-doubt? Does it stop you moving forward?
You may be one of those ‘what’s the point anyway' type of people, or perhaps you’ve become good at displacement and procrastination allowing yourself to get caught up in all the daily distractions as they come flooding in without getting down to what really matters to you?
Maybe you seek constant affirmation?
We need to learn how to balance the anxiety of self-doubt by accepting the doubts and embracing the mistakes to provide a greater sense of joy in the creative process - and this is what I want to explore with you now...
Why not make this the time to face the facts?
Let’s accept that creativity and anxiety are constant bedfellows for most of us. We worry when we do and we worry when we don’t.
Self-doubt is like an exposed, curious and tentative child who first steps into a busy playground, without the comfort of a familiar face.
We want to fit in, belong and told that we are OK! Yet, it becomes the fate of many a creative to carry on feeling the outsider, whose words and ideas can fall on deaf ears, get dismissed or laughed at. After all, van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime.
Nature has paradoxically wired us up to connect and belong, as well as to be separate. A reasonable dose of self-doubt therefore is vital to your survival in the group - your audience - and yet, too much of it kills off your very essence.
Ambiguity is the birthplace of new ideas.
Yes, it often feels very painful and exposed too.
Those glorious and inspired moments when an idea ‘comes to us’ require openness, a state of receptivity. Check it out yourself. Certainty on the other hand can be the death of thought.
How do we ‘lean into the unknown’, as Pema Chödrön puts it?
How do we balance the anxiety of self-doubt with a sense of joy and fun?
Perhaps these two challenges can help you move through your doubt:
1. Fully accept your doubts and acknowledge the vulnerability they bring, while getting on with things anyway.
Act normally in other words. I like to imagine what ‘acting normally’ looks like on the outside.
Remember that the worry also provides the fuel and edginess needed to move and make; it gives the poignancy and individuality that your creativity deserves.
Don’t wait then, to start making friends with your anxiety.
2. Look forward to your mistakes.
Pema Chödrön quotes James Joyce who saw mis-takes as portals of discovery, or opportunities to see things in fresh and new ways. Mistakes are part of the process in other words; they are not failures to be avoided at all costs.
Pema’s new book uses Samuel Beckett’s words in the title:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
I would encourage you to do the same.
So, since ‘perfection is for the gods’ after all, I hope these signposts will help you emerge more consistently and unapologetically as yourself!
Enjoy the journey - and please do leave me a comment, I would love to hear if this resonated with you.
Renée van der Vloodt ( M.A. , FHGI ) is a psychotherapist and coach – and has had a private practice for over 20 years, which is now based between Woodchurch (Ashford), Kent and the Elysian Centre in Rye, East Sussex.
Renée is the author of the CD Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind and works with children and adults as a coach and therapist to help them overcome life's challenges and emotional difficulties including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger or addictive behaviour.