Being confident is important as an artist because it helps us believe that what we offer is of value and therefore we are of value. Lack of confidence signals that we need to work on something. That something is the voice inside of us that says we are not good enough, not talented enough and just plain not enough. The voice that feeds us this negative commentary about ourselves is called the inner critic. The inner critic is a liar and over time we believe these lies and live them out through our speech, our action and how we approach our creative practice. This post will uncover why you may be experiencing a lack of confidence as an artist.
Lack of Confidence is a Signal That Inner Critic is Prominent
Our inner critic erodes our sense of consistency, belief in our talent, showing our work to others, marketing and selling our art. If we are functioning primarily from the inner critic belief system, we will have difficulty in performing any of the tasks necessary to being a confident artist.
The inner critic involves a judgment of the creative process and a possible halting of all creativity. Check in with how you are talking to others about your creative process. What are the words and tone you are using? The following are ways to recognize how the inner critic is manifesting itself in your creative practice.
Judgment – What words do you use when you describe your creative work?
Reluctance – Are you hesitant to discuss your creative practice/work?
Procrastination – Do you have difficulty starting or finishing your creative work?
Feedback – How do you respond to compliments and criticism?
Did you recognize any of these, what do your words sound like? Do they include any like the ones on the list below? All of these ways you react are signals as to why you have difficulty being a confident artist.
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Confidence Builds with Awareness of our Inner Critic
Before we can start the inner critic transformation, we need to know the basics of where it comes from. In order to makeover your inner critic, you need to directly target the lie and replace the lie. It is not simply good enough to call the message your inner critic is sending a lie, but it needs to be given a complete makeover.
The inner critic is your inner negative voice that originates from past experiences, environment and the view you have formed of yourself as a result of these environments and experiences. Let me break down briefly how the inner critic is formed. And remember each person’s experience is unique. What one person may react to strongly may not affect another in the same way.
How the Inner Critic is Formed: Origins & Cycle
- It all starts with a negative experience or series of experiences. These could be labelled as triggers because they set off a sequence of reactions.
- These messages or negative experiences are filtered through our current value system or lens that comprises our personality, family history and life experiences.
- Perception is a lens through which we interpret the message. This perception of the message or event is met with our personality; inescapably who we are (who we have been created to be) and how we respond are closely connected.
- Thoughts that have been formed then perpetuate feelings that we tend to label as positive or negative.
- Feelings and thoughts lead to a response of action or inaction. We may decide to not show our work on social media because of fear of rejection or the belief that we are not good enough. Multiple negative beliefs from others can push us to make vows.
- We repeat these thoughts in subtle ways (often subconsciously) and then it becomes habitual to think a certain way
- We are unable to achieve our goals when the inner critic is dominant
You end up coming to the place where you don’t know why you believe the inner critic. It has become so buried beneath the layers of habit and history.
The inner critic is about fear and fear is really about value. The inner critic focuses on what we are not. We are worried that we are not enough; not competent enough, not qualified, not deserving. (not as good as “that artist”, not trained enough etc.)
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Confidence Grows When We Challenge the Inner Critic
You target the lie of the inner critic by a series of challenges. This gives it no legs to stand on. This is where a coach comes in and eventually with practice, you will become your own coach.
You can use these questions and some of the ones below to have a conversation with yourself. One part of you is the critic and the other is the coach.
Let’s practice with this statement – “My art practice is a waste of time”
- What makes this true? If I work on my art, it takes away from other things that are more important.
- Is there a place and time for art practice? Yes, I guess so
- Has this come true in the past? Believing that my art practice is a waste of time? Oh sure.
- Then why are you still doing it? Because it is important to me.
- So there is value in making time for your art? Yes, I guess so.
- What is the worst that could happen? I will spend too much time on it and not get other things done.
- What is so bad about this happening? The other things will have to wait.
- Is that really so bad? No
This technique will quickly create an awareness of why you may be experiencing a lack of confidence as an artist.
You Can Become More Confident
If you work through these three steps, you will be aware of how your inner critic is shaping your lack of confidence. With awareness of what it sounds like and where it comes from you will be well on your way to to understanding why you may be experiencing a lack of confidence as an artist.
Now that you know why you may be experiencing a lack of confidence as an artist, it is within your power to create a new narrative. This narrative will directly influence your confidence.
If you like this post, please check out another post on How to Recognize Your Artist’s Inner Critic
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