What’s Stopping You….. From doing the stuff you really want to do?

Posted: 11th October 2017


By: Carolyn Trafford

12 months ago I sat staring blankly at the lecturer stood in front of me.  A lovely lady, knowledgeable both in the subject of art and in her ability to teach.  But why wasn’t I convinced in what she was saying to me?

I was about 4 weeks into my foundation degree course.  I have many hurdles to face on that journey.  Learning how to draw was high on my to do list. “Everyone can draw” I was told and I took that at face value, of course she was right.  But now she was here telling me that in just a matter of weeks, I would be exhibiting a piece of art in the Staffordshire Contemporary Art Exhibition.

Of course she was right – she pretty much always is.

Now I’m facing being part of the team organising the event and it’s just as daunting and she’s telling me that will happen too.

So why do I doubt it?

Self doubt and imposter syndrome are two concepts I chat about with my clients.  Self doubt is when we struggle to believe in our own abilities and imposter syndrome is when we find our self somewhere, maybe in a role at work, perhaps following promotion and we believe that we shouldn’t be or that someone will find out we don’t have the skills.  Both seem to appear with all manner of little monsters or voices in our head.  It’s that very self talk that allows us to convince ourselves that we can’t do something and if we do then something will go wrong.

It all stems from our evolution.  In our cavemen or woman days we had to be equipped with a “fight or flight” mechanism.  It’s there to help us figure out what to do when under threat from a big bear or a pack of wolves.  Is it better to run or to stay and kill the beast?  With it comes the adrenalin rush causing that nervous feeling in the pit of the stomach.

Accepting that feeling for what it is can really help us to deal with it.  Acknowledging that it is just self doubt allows us to answer that inner voice back and say “that’s Ok I can do this – after all what is the worst that can happen?”  And the reality is – it’s probably not that bad.

So maybe I can sort out this exhibition, I’m working with a team with varying skill sets so between us we’ll figure it out and I’m feeling really good about it.  It can be difficult to think through when your emotions are playing with you but if you do notice that you’re having doubts about yourself, stop for a moment and think about it – don’t let the voices run away with you.

The Staffordshire Contemporary Arts exhibition will be held at the Foxlowe on the 2nd and 3rd December.

Carolyn Trafford is a published author and Creative Freedom Practitioner supporting others in achieving the life they want.