Stop Questioning Yourself, Self

If you grow up not believing in your abilities, or that you are worth the time it takes to nurture your abilities, you will often self-sabotage right when you are getting close to a goal. I’m not going to get into the addition of addictive tendencies that come from low self-esteem/genetic components because the bar is out on whether or not addiction is a learned or inherited behavior as far as I can tell, but it seems that people who come from not-so-pretty backgrounds tend to have more of a propensity for addiction than people who come from nurturing supportive backgrounds, though that’s not always the case.

So. That being said. It is difficult to overcome negative self-loops and internal hurdles to begin with. But what sets people who have success apart from those who don’t is a bull-headed persistence to continue in spite of whatever obstacle. And those with bull-headed persistence usually have an MO–whether it’s proving their naysayers wrong, or a relentless confidence in their own abilities no matter what anyone else says. Often, it’s a mixture of both.

It is possible to stop sabotaging yourself.

There are always subtle tweaks, and sometimes it’s like pushing a boulder up a hill for hundreds of miles without a pause for rest, but it is totally possible to stop being so broken, to not let your past affect you as much, and to move forward without giving into unconscious mechanisms that you’ve built internally to keep yourself from succeeding.

It’s always easy to blame others, but to paraphrase Erica Jong, if you stop blaming others, oh my god. You then have full responsibility for your own life.

Who wants that?

That means you take full accountability for who you surround yourself by, what actions you are taking,  what you are choosing to focus your energy on.

You can’t blame your husband or dog or ex-lover or parents or the bus driver anymore.

Sure, outside events influence us, but when it comes down to it, we choose our friends and we choose our projects. We choose what to do with our time. We choose whether we want to earn more money and have less time for our art, or if we want to spend less, earn less and focus more on our art. We choose who we are going to believe about our talents, whether to believe in ourselves or not.

We choose to let people into our lives who will either uplift us, encourage us to grow or tear us down and invalidate, criticize and ridicule us.

This all may be common sense, but often, in my own life, I’ve found that I played the victim and blamed others around me for the results I was getting in my life.

Until I got to a point where I got tired of trying to be what other people wanted me to be.

I got tired of apologizing for myself.

I got tired of trying to change who I am at the core to please others.

I got tired of being the good, conforming, traditional girl.

I stopped waiting for others to accept my strengths and weaknesses and started accepting them myself. I started giving time to myself to work on the things I love, and asking other people to respect my boundaries. If they didn’t, I let them walk and worried less about what they thought after I took care of myself.

I got tired of worrying about whether other people thought I was selfish or immature or a bitch or doing the right thing or spending too much time on my art or being socially acceptable or following the dictates of society or wearing the right clothes.

I started focusing more on showing up for my art.

As a result, I’ve had more success with it and met more people. I’ve expanded my peer group, been asked to play more shows, networked with more musicians, made new friends, challenged myself, been uncomfortable and awkward and insecure, yet somehow OK.

I still find myself not giving enough space to my art, not trusting the process, holding myself back, not taking full accountability for my life and wanting other people to drive the car, but I notice now when I’m doing that, and I’m working on it one baby step at a time.

What’s tripping you up? What have you learned about yourself through your music or writing or art?

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  1. Things I’ve learned about myself through art stuff,

    -Everything I did yesteryear is crap and would be good only for incinerator fodder if I didn’t have an obsession with data.

    -Everything I’m going to do later is super awesome, assuming I get around to it.

    -It’s better to just do things and fail spectacularly than to wait until you think you have all the materials/can do it right.

    -Art is not particularly different from science or cooking, or anything else you do. There isn’t some special part of your brain that only deals with art/music.

    As for what kind of things trip me up? It’s sometimes a lot easier to immerse myself in someone else’s POV via music or reading or watching media than to just do projects in a less than ideal workspace. I’m superbly anal retentive about supplies and environment, and sometimes the only way to get myself moving is to purposely find a midway project that I don’t really care about the outcome of in order to just get started on something I want to do.

    I want to do so many things awesomely, I’ve a hard time just convincing myself to do them at all. It’s worse when I’ve used better equipment to do things before, because it’s like taking backwards steps to use a sawzall to make a bookshelf when I’ve had access to an entire woodshop before. Feels like I’m choosing to use a simple mechanical lever when I could be using a hydraulic arm.

    But in the end experience matters more than the outcome, and you’ve just got to make sure the risk you’re taking is a small material/time loss for a gain of knowing more about what you’re capable of.

    Sometimes I feel like I’m a slow object of awkward mass and I’ve just got to find a tall enough hill to push myself down, though more likely I’ll have to keep pushing indefinitely, just in different ways.

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