Friday, May 23, 2008

My Buddy, Doubt

I am sure you have met my buddy. He goes by the name Doubt.

Doubt is one of those buddies who is faithful and loyal. But, also one that you are not always so sure you want to see! Things may seem to be going along just great. All the gears are turning, and there is a nice hum in the background. Then Doubt crosses the doorway, and everything comes to a screeching halt.

"Am I doing the right thing?"

"What was I thinking?"

"Is anyone really going to like/buy this?"

"This is already being done, and done better."

"I'll never be as good as..., so why even bother."

Many of the above thoughts have popped into my head at one point or another. Sometimes, I have weeks where the thoughts are popping up in my head like a paparazzi's flash. Blinding me. Everything gets thrown into doubt, and I have moved from the solid shores, to being perched on the wobbly rock in the middle of a fast moving stream. I can feel the anxiety bubbling up.

But, I have learned something over time.

First, I have learned to say "Stop!" Stop letting this doubt overtake all other thoughts in your head. Stop and think for a minute.

I recently saw an article about another memorial project using origami cranes. They had over four thousand cranes completed, and they were going to be showing the project on the mall at the Washington Memorial in D.C. this Memorial Day weekend.

My first thought, honestly, was "What is the point of doing what I am doing? It has already been done. I am far from finished."

Then the Stop sign went up, and I took a breath.

This is the dialogue I began instead. "What they have done is similar, but not quite the same. It is wonderful that they are able to have their project in Washington, D.C. this weekend so that people will see and be reminded. It is wonderful that there are other like minded people out there taking actions such as your own. It should be celebrated.....and reinforced with your own work, which is similar, but still different."

Am I rationalizing? Maybe. But maybe I am just adding perspective and depth to my initial reaction that was fear driven. The fear that I am not good enough. That others are better, and that no one will be at all interested in my project by the time I finish.

No matter where we are as artists, Doubt is going to show up. Unannounced. And it is up to us to decide how long of a visit he makes. Will he sleep on the couch, or the guest room? Will he be sitting in your living room channel surfing while you wonder why you ever thought you had what it takes to do this?

Or will he be acknowledged, and then shown the door?

Will he be embraced, or just waved to politely?

We really do get to choose how we react. The stop sign is the first step. Stop the flood of negativity that comes along with the doubt, and begin to bring in some rationale thought, and then.....get back to work!


Anonymous said...

Changing the way we react to a stimulus has real effects on our body chemestry as well. A book to read is Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf Address :
Switch On Your Brain
PO Box4772 Rivonia 2128
South Africa
+27 11467392

Susan Turney said...

Yes, the other project is similar're reaching a whole different group who has never heard of the other one. You've reached a large majority of the polymer clay people...making us all think. I think there's plenty of room for all of us and plenty of people who haven't heard of crane projects at all. But once they do maybe they'll stop and think...if so, thank God for all of you!!!

Susan Turney said...

and....I really did understand "the point" of the post but I guess I wanted to make another one!!!

artandtea said...

Hi Judy,
Wow, I think your buddy and my buddy are related. I think that it's good to be aware of that presence in our psyche and, more importantly, know how to handle it and talk to it as you did. I recently had a similar experience where I saw a photo in a book that was similar to an idea I've had gestating in my imagination for awhile. However, I will forge ahead and manifest my idea because this is something I know I need to express because it comes from deep within. And that is the voice I want to listen to and satisfy. Thanks for another inspiring post!