Last week I had my first art lesson (one of the dreams on my list). It was a lot of fun, but I found it pretty tiring as well. I had to continuously push through limiting beliefs that seemed to hold my creativity captive. Beliefs like: you can’t draw, you’re not as good as the others, people will laugh at what you create … and on and on it went. I had to make a conscious decision not to give in to these thoughts and to simply push through. In the end I did end up drawing a pretty amazing picture, I chose a difficult one on purpose, and I felt a lot of satisfaction when I actually did it! (If you’re interested to see, have a look at the bottom of this post)
The experience made me wonder how many of my other dreams were stillborn, killed prematurely by my own limiting beliefs, lies I believe about myself. Maybe you have a similar experience? Let’s look at some of the common ones:
1. I’m not as good as X:
This is a mindset I give into way to often. It becomes a really good hiding place if I’m really honest with myself. The problem is that when you compare yourself to others, it can’t have a good outcome no matter who comes out on top. If you find yourself falling short, it leads to a lack of confidence; if you come out on top it often leads to arrogance and pride and even a dangerous complacency. I like this quote by Neil Simon: “Don’t listen to those who say, “It’s not done that way.” Maybe it’s not, but maybe you will. Don’t listen to those who say, “You’re taking too big a chance.” Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most importantly, don’t listen when the little voice of fear inside of you rears its ugly head and says, “They’re all smarter than you out there. They’re more talented, they’re taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…” I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you’ll be a person worthy of your own respect.“
2. I can’t do that
Often this belief comes from other people telling you what you can or can’t do. I’ve believed for a long time that I can’t draw, because of art teachers and parents telling me so. What I’ve come to realise is that I actually can (how can you be an award winning photographer and not be artistic), I’ve simply never been taught the right techniques. I may not be a natural at it like some of the cartoonists I work with, but I certainly can draw. How often do we give up on something before we’ve even taken a single step simply because we don’t believe we can do it? I’ve decided to ignore those voices in my head and try anyway … what’s the worst that can happen?
3. Failure (or imperfection) is not an option
This belief is a joy thief. Where ever did the notion come from that everything is about performance and perfection and not simply about enjoyment. Why can I not just enjoy drawing or dancing or writing, why must it be perfect. Why is failure seen as such an evil, when failure is how we learn the most? So many people give up on a dream, because they don’t feel their performance is up to scratch. I’ve come to realise it’s about the journey, not just the destination. It’s about the process, not just the outcome.