On Self Doubt

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I can't tell you how many conversations I have had with others that come back to self doubt. It seems as though it's everywhere - sneaking up on even the most confident of us, and crippling us when we least expect it. I've read so many books about how to deal with it, I've sought advice from others, I've spent a good portion of my mental energy working through it. And I've come to this conclusion: it's a fight we can't win. self doubt

You know that scene in The Princess Bride, when Wesley is working his way through each of the henchmen to get to Buttercup? His first task is the Andre the Giant. He towers over Wesley, and it's clear from the start that he is going to win. What chance could Wesley have? He's literally half his size! But yet, win he does. Same with  Inigo Montoya, and with Vizzini the Sicilian. But he doesn't just beat each of them - he beats them at their own game by refusing to play by their rules. He identifies their power, and wins because he is realistic about his own skills and uses them to his advantage.

Overcoming self doubt is like that, too. If you meet it head on and try to win with mental strength and determination, it's going to knock you flat on your butt. You might get lucky with a round or two, but in the end, it's going to win. The key is to not play the game. Figure out why you have self doubt in the first place. Identify your weaknesses. Put a name to them, write them down, make a list of your struggles and fears - and then own them. It's in the very name - SELF doubt. It's driven from your own mind. It's not necessarily something you have control over, anymore than you have control over falling asleep. But if you take away the power of the doubt, you take back control.

Identify your weaknesses and struggles, and you put a name to the thing that is causing the doubt. And in doing so, you take away its power - you beat it at its own game. I'm not great at white balance. In fact, I'm down right terrible at it. Even after all these years, I just struggle to see color. It's not my thing. So when I create something that is in color, I could have a panic attack at the idea of it to being wrong, and me never even realizing it. But I don't - because I know it's my weakness. So I know there is a good chance someone is going to point it out to me. When they do, it's not a surprise. There isn't that gut clenching reaction of embarrassment or panic. I'm not perfect, I never will be, and that is okay. But I know my weaknesses. I know them intimately and deeply, and I've come to accept them. And that is the most empowering thing I've ever done for my art.

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If you want to hear more about my personal struggles with self doubt, and how I've overcome them with the help of a simple and effective Lightroom workflow and goal setting system, check out my new ebook, The Developed Eye. On sale until Thursday, November 27, 2014 for $30, and then just $35 after. And check back with me when you've read it. I'd love to know how it helped you.

Kate DensmoreComment