Challenging My Negative Self (Day32)

Oh my goodness, I literally cannot believe it is day 32 of this monotonous routine. Time feels like it’s going quickly some days and really dragging on others. I’m just trying to focus on the fact that we are one step closer to normality!

Todays’ post is mainly focussing on how to overcome negative perceptions of oneself and to explore interests freely. I am definitely guilty of holding back from trying new things just because I lack confidence in myself. I think that everybody in life experiences self doubt from time to time, however it’s important not to let this control you. 

Personally, it’s not so much activities that are affected, it’s my ability to make decisions. I am constantly second guessing whether I’ve done the right thing or if the other option would have been better. I am literally unable to feel confident in my final decision and this is because of self doubt. 

I have teamed up with my wise friend Carolina, who has written the majority of this blog post surrounding  the idea of challenging negative self perceptions. I think this gives a really detailed insight into her thoughts. 

“I don’t have a creative bone in my body” is a lie I have repeated to myself and others more times than I can count over the last 30+ years.

It originates from when, aged 14, an art teacher at school said to me “the sooner you stop drawing [and painting] the better for everyone]”. Right there, in that moment, those words were etched into my psyche. I used to enjoy it but I wasn’t a natural and it didn’t come easily to me. Coupled with those fateful words, it became an area of life that I would neglect and would frustrate me forevermore.

By contrast, my youngest son has always enjoyed arts & crafts and it has been very hard for me to nurture that in him. In part, because I hate the mess but also because it highlights my own inadequacies. It means that I have to confront my perceived failure in the creative realm and all the frustration of looking at what is on the page and how poorly it resembles what I am actually trying to draw, bubbles up again. It’s always easier to bury those feelings than to have to deal with them. So instead I would book him into holiday art camps where he could create freely (and make a mess). At home he would be limited to drawing or colouring. But I wouldn’t get involved.

Conscious that I was somewhat stifling his creativity, when lockdown happened and various arts opportunities opened up, I decided this was the time to jump right in and face some fears. Together my son and I have been doing a free, twice weekly drawing tutorial with an illustrator online and I have made a point of not giving in to those feelings of frustration when it didn’t quite go to plan and encourage my son when he felt the same. We allowed ourselves the freedom of making mistakes. We’ve drawn all sorts of funny characters and ignored the ones that didn’t really appeal. It was fun even when they weren’t perfect. We’d compare and contrast, have a giggle at our aliens and dinosaurs, colour them in and look forward to the next one.

A friend of a friend also started a 100-day art club but this is a whole different ball game. It’s sketching, drawing, creating mood boards and colour palettes, pens and pencils of different varieties, watercolours, acrylics and more. There are some serious artists in this group and after several people shared their work over the first few days, those feeling of inadequacy and shame came flooding back. I am way out of comfort zone here. This feels scary. Compared to them I am feel utterly rubbish. We are encouraged to, though we don’t have to, post our work in the Facebook group. I am in awe of what others are sharing and can but dream of ever reaching their standard.

A few days in and I seriously contemplate leaving the group altogether. My brain is screaming at me so I post a message saying I think I’m in the wrong group, this is brilliant but it’s for far more experienced artists, I’m not good enough, I’m off. I should clarify that it was actually billed for every level of artist. From beginner to the more seasoned. That negative voice was coming entirely from me (and that teacher). But people are kind and they don’t judge. They simply reply reminding me that each one of them were beginners at some point, that we are all here to learn and be inspired, that art is subjective. They are kind and encouraging and something within me tells me that I really do want to stay. I may never become an artist who sells their work for a living or exhibit but there’s so much I want to learn, and I would love to get better. And be content with what I produce.

So, my son and I have stuck with it. It’s day 15 now and I can honestly say it’s been incredibly positive. My work isn’t amazing but that’s ok. What’s been interesting is that I’m much less fearful. Fearful of failing, fearful of what others might think, fearful of my own inner critic. I am really enjoying discovering art and painting and mixing colours and seeing what can happen.

These past few weeks have taught me that to break beyond the fear and move forward in an area that you find hard or frightening, you invariably have to push through that barrier that would ordinarily stop you. You have actually got to feel the fear and do it anyway. Rarely do we learn a new skill which doesn’t require practice and exploration.

It’s only when we get over the fence that we can explore the green fields that lie on the other side. I’m off to paint…

Carolina x

As mentioned above, I think the fear of failure is quite a prominent thing amongst the human brain. We are all full of negative ‘what ifs?’ and sometimes these completely override the positive ones. We are capable of so much more than we think and this needs to be recognised. 

So next time you are offered a new challenge, please accept and feel confident in your decision. You are capable of amazing things if you just push the tiny bits of negativity away! 

Stay safe and healthy everyone💕

Ky x

p.s thank you to all who have read and helped out with my kindness packages. I am incredibly overwhelmed! If you missed it, you can check out the post here:

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