by Tamsen Taylor
Tamsen Taylor, photo by See Photography
There are many challenges that artists have to confront, but lacking confidence is one that tends to come up again and again. Whether our art is a hobby for us, our main source of income, or somewhere in between, it is often an intimate thing.
Sharing our creations makes us vulnerable, because they are part of us.
To “succeed” as an artist, we often have to find a way to overcome our fears and doubts, and put our stuff out there for judgement and potential criticism. If our art is a source of income, we also have to find the confidence to promote and sell it.
As an emotional educator and trained researcher, I have been asked how to help people be more confident. There is a lot of contradictory information, and outright misinformation, about confidence and how to increase it. Here are 2 myths that can hurt you if you seek to gain more confidence:
1) Confidence is 1 thing:
One of the biggest problems facing people who want to increase their confidence is the misunderstanding that confidence is just 1 thing. It’s 1 word, but when we talk about confidence, we’re actually talking about at least 3 different things.
First, confidence has to do with ability - do we believe that we can succeed at something? Do we know what we need to know, and can we apply that knowledge to be successful? It’s about what we can DO.
Second, confidence has to do with our trust in ourselves, in our qualities, above and beyond anything that we can actually do. It’s about who and what we ARE.
Third, confidence has a component that is essentially emotional. We talk about FEELING confident. Emotions are meant to come and go, and so feeling confident sometimes and not at other times is totally natural.
The incorrect belief that confidence is actually 1 thing leads directly to the second myth…
2) The “spaghetti approach” to building confidence is enough:
The “spaghetti approach” - just throw everything at the wall, and see what sticks - really doesn’t work for confidence.
First of all, you can find a bazillion tips for increasing confidence - I just Googled “how to increase confidence” and got “about 576,000,000 results in 0.65 seconds”. That’s super fantastic and all, but the problem is…
You will tend to choose those strategies that actually WON’T work for you.
If you look at multiple suggestions that are supposed to work to achieve a goal - wouldn’t you choose the one that seemed the easiest for you? The one that seemed a little fun? And you’d avoid like the plague the one that would really challenge you, that would hurt, and take a lot of effort. Because if confidence is just 1 thing, then shouldn’t something that worked for someone else also work for you?
Unfortunately, you probably need to do something uncomfortable, something different, to create change. If you try something that seems fun, you might find a new fun hobby, but not something that would actually increase your confidence by addressing your weak spots.
Something to try:
One strategy for building confidence, and for improving life satisfaction overall, is to journal. Ok, I know you’ve probably heard this a million times. I’m not talking about freewriting, just to get your thoughts down. This is more strategic. It’s gratitude journalling, but with additional conscious strategy.
There is research suggesting that keeping a gratitude journal can improve your life satisfaction in general, and help you feel more gratitude and less fear. If you are struggling with the emotional side of confidence this can help.
If you want to improve your confidence about your own worth, make sure you write something you’re grateful for about yourself every day. Gratitude journalling in general can also help if one of your goals is to be a more grateful and positive person.
And if confidence in your ability is your issue, maybe journalling isn’t for you. Figure out what you need to learn or practice, and go do that instead.
On March 28, 2019, Guelph Arts Council and Tamsen Taylor present a “Confidence for Creatives” workshop. Tickets available now on Eventbrite.
Workshop: Confidence for Creatives
Creative people often struggle with confidence because creating and sharing our art leaves us vulnerable. In this workshop we’ll be discussing common myths about confidence that keep us searching and stuck, and you’ll discover strategies that really work for building confidence.
There will be lots of time for discussion and questions so you can get information that is personally relevant to you and your situation.
If you’ve ever been really pumped and felt confident after attending an event or learning a new way to increase confidence, but within a week you ran out of steam and felt even more frustrated, let’s try something different.
This workshop is also very helpful if you mentor others who struggle with confidence issues, and you’ve been unsure how to help.
Testimonial for a past Confidence Workshop:
“I found the concept of viewing confidence as many different elements incredibly powerful! Once you understand it in that way, you can work on solutions that address each confidence challenge specifically. I’m sure many people will have “Aha” moments when they realize why the tactics they’ve been trying haven’t been helping.
Now, with the takeaways from this workshop, I’ll be able to identify the confidence challenges my clients are facing and recommend strategies for overcoming them so they can get back to the journey of pursuing their career dreams. ”
Rachel Despres, Career Coach for Rebels, racheldespres.com
Tamsen is a Truth Questioner, emotional educator, Confidence & Creativity specialist, podcast host, writer, and a lover of orange.
For people who care about such things, she has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Western, is a certified Project Manager (PMP), and is certified by the Grief Recovery Institute.