The Pit of Self-Doubt

The Pit of Self-Doubt - phoenix painting

Painting can be a fun way to relax. Spreading acrylics all over the canvas. Swirling two colors together. There’s just something so satisfying about that. But at the same time, it can also be a cause of great anxiety for me.

I’m a perfectionist, and last time I checked, paints don’t come with erasers. If you make a “wrong move,” you’ve got to work with it. I guess in some senses it’s good because it forces me to accept life’s imperfections. Still, it can be a stressor.

The Pit of Self-Doubt - butterfly painting

When I paint a canvas, it’s practically a guarantee that I will reach a point where I think I’ve screwed this whole thing up. No joke. Usually, a little past the halfway point, a sinking feeling creeps into my stomach, and my confidence takes a nosedive. Negative thoughts fill my head: Why did you just do that? You’ve ruined the whole thing! What were you thinking? You suck at art. Your past paintings were just flukes. You can’t be a real artist.

What began as a fun, relaxing activity morphs into self-made anxiety attack. So, why do I keep doing it? Great question! I’ll let you know when I have the answer. Seriously, though, I think I keep going back to it because I like the end result. Even though the middle part was painful and agonizing, it’s pretty cool to sit back at the end and go, “Wow, I really made that.”

The Pit of Self-Doubt - rose painting

My writing goes through a similar process. I’ll start out confident thinking I’ve got a cracker-jack idea, then plunge into the pit of self-doubt and wonder why I ever bothered. The temptation to quit is colossal. But something won’t let me. Stubbornness, probably. And the fact that I’ll be asking myself “What if” for the rest of my life.

So, when I find myself immersed in those dark thoughts (and that is often), I have a pity-party (because, well, yeah, I have to give in a little bit), then take a breath and begin my climb out of the pit of self-doubt.

The Pit of Self-Doubt - painting hat

Anxiety has a knack for suffocation. The trick is to keep fighting even if it seems hopeless. I painted all four of the pictures shown, and each time, I had a moment where I thought I royally screwed things up and considered chunking them in the trash. If I’d given into the anxiety, I wouldn’t have this to show for it.

‘Til next time!

Amélie

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