Social media is a double edge sword. A powerful tool to help connect us to people all around the world and experience things we would have never dreamed possible (hello, first picture of a black hole!). On the other side, social media never sleeps. It feels like there is a constant battle to stay on top, do more, produce more and everything is always moving. This part of social media is what clouds up my brain sometimes. There is always noise and stimuli that demands our attention and it’s hard to lose sight of who you are and why you are making art. That’s when doubts creep in.
The other day I experienced this hardcore. Thoughts ran though my head like a chipmunk who just drank 10 cups of coffee. I’m sure many of you have experienced these thoughts while on social media if you’re an artist or creative.
Is my art really any good?
What if everyone on Instagram is just humoring me telling me they love my art?
What if my art isn’t original?
What if I don’t make it as an artist?
What if everyone steals my ideas?
I can’t tell you how many times these pesky thoughts have flown into my brain when I’m having a good day. They’re especially brutal when I’m having a horrible day. But I assure you, these thoughts are the exact same things which will hold you back if you dwell on them too long. Once you start to move out of your comfort zone and into the place where you really want to be, fear will always pop up. It’s there to keep you in a safe place. But beyond that safe place is where you will really find what you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, no one is immune from doubts. If you are congratulations! You also might be a robot. Regardless if you are a robot, here are 5 things that I’ve found really help me get out of that dark spiral of doubtful thoughts.
1. Turn off your phone!
I know what you’re thinking… what if someone REALLY needs to get a hold of me! You don’t need to turn off your phone forever. I’m not saying you throw your phone into the fires of Mordor. Just for an hour turn it off. Or put it into another room while you’re making art. Studies have shown if you are distracted or interrupted during a task, it takes 25 minutes to get your focus back. That time is precious especially if you’re busy, have a family or have other obligations. If you’re in a flow state with your art, things are happening really easily and you’re feeling it… it can kill your creative flow if you start scrolling through Instagram (which can turn into 20 minutes of scrolling so easily!) or read a negative post on Twitter.
2. Meditate for 10 minutes each day
I realize that meditation isn’t everyone’s jam. So if you aren’t into it, then skip this one! But for myself, meditating every day (well almost every day… I am human!) has been a game changer with how I process thoughts especially negative ones. If you’re having trouble quieting your mind when you first start meditating, look up guided meditations on YouTube or listen to healing HZ or binaural beats. Another tip that helps some people is to stare into a candle flame, which sounds weird, but it does work to just concentrate on one single thing and your mind doesn’t wander as much.
Often when l feel myself getting anxious, my breathing gets really shallow and my body starts tensing up, my body is literally telling me I’m not in tune with myself. When I’m not in tune with myself, then I can’t make art and being creative becomes a chore rather than a joy. I usually step away from my work space, go into a quiet room (usually my bedroom) and relax for 10-15 minutes. Even reading a book or taking a walk can be meditative. Do whatever works for you, your time and the space you have. You know yourself better than anyone else!
3. Read every Encyclopedia backwards?!
Okay, not literally that. But do something that isn’t related to art! Sometimes the best thing you can do is step away from your art for a bit, clear the dust of doubt out and get into a hobby that you love. Maybe it’s stamp collecting, re-reading Harry Potter books for the 341st time or just taking a hike outside. Fun fact as a kid in elementary school my goal was to read every Encyclopedia. Yes, I was a weird child and yes this was before the internet became a big deal.
4. Put every bath bomb from Lush into your bathtub and enjoy!
Aka self-care. People talk A LOT about self-care nowadays, I feel like more so than ever. But it’s for a good reason. You need to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Last year I pushed myself every day to make art and to produce tons and tons of content for social media. Last year was also the year I was sick almost every month and burnt out. There were many tears and mental breakdowns my friends. Towards the end of the year, I realized (finally!) what I was doing to myself wasn’t healthy and decided to change. This year I decided to change not only my habits but also what I was putting into my body. I quit drinking completely, since that was causing me more harm than good and I was almost relying on it too much when I was anxious to be honest. When I’m stressed I take a break, mediate and most of all I don’t force myself to be creative. You might notice that I have a daily challenge I do on Instagram, which 90% of the time I do create those every day. But I have some images on reserve for the days that I know I won’t feel it. It happens to everyone and you just need to listen to your body and your mind. Take care of yourself!
5. Make art that only you will see.
There can be this urge or a strange obligation we feel to share everything we create on social media. Make something that is just for yourself and don’t feel like you need to share it. No one will know it exists except you and maybe one day you will decide to post it. My point is, you have power in what you show to the world.
I hope that maybe these tips helped you or maybe will give you some guidance on when you feel doubtful about your art. Just know that everyone goes through this! Also know that you will get to the other side of doubt someday and things take time. Be gentle with yourself. You got this!
Here are also a few books that have really helped me in building confidence or getting rid of blocks.