|Creative Development for Artists, Writers and all Artistic Creativity|
How many times have you recognised creative talent in others that they themselves seem incapable of recognising? How many times do you see tragic underachievement, creative or otherwise, because the unfortunate person involved manages to ignore all evidence to the contrary – and doggedly insists they have poor ability, never-ending bad luck and, in any case, is unworthy and undeserving of success?
And how often do we see the other side to this story – the successful, prolific creative artist who has stuck to their beliefs, persevered against setbacks and obstacles, kept on trying and produced better and better work until success becomes nigh on inevitable?
If you have your eyes open you should have seen plenty of the first and a surprising amount of the last, too. Whether you fall into the first, last or somewhere between, understanding the profound impact your personal self-belief has on your own life is paramount.
Shaping Your Destiny
That’s because the destiny of each one of us is shaped in a large part not by our innate ability and talent but by our perceptions about ourselves, and the self-image we carry with us. In other words, our destiny is shaped by what we think about ourselves.
It’s worth pausing here to clearly define what I mean by personal self beliefs.
Perception, not Truth
Personal self beliefs are the perceptions we hold about ourselves, our surroundings, and the way the universe treats us. Notice that this definition is about much more than just our immediate selves – but no matter how far we stretch it – it is always about how we believe the world to be in relation to us.
And especially when our personal self beliefs are negative, our perceptions can be way off the mark. The real whopping problem here is this: we don’t experience our personal self beliefs as perceptions (which might or might not be accurate) – we experience them as granite hard truths. And so – being the truth, we accept them and live our lives within the limitations set by them.
As that very famous saying by Henry Ford goes: Whether you think that you can or think that you can’t, you are probably right.
Self Perpetuating and Self Reinforcing
Regardless of whether our self beliefs are positive or negative – the way we think about ourselves tends to be perpetuated and reinforced. There are two ways that this happens.
1 - Our actions bring about the outcomes we expect
At its simplest, if your personal truth is that you succeed, you will see setbacks as challenges to be overcome and persevere until you have overcome them. If your self perception is one of failure then your effort will carry some half-heartedness right from the start, you will give up easily in the face of obstacles and then you’ll cite your failure as proof of the original ‘truth’.
2 - Our perception of events is skewed towards supporting our personal self beliefs
I’m constantly amazed by just how selective our mind can be when it comes to consolidating and justifying our self beliefs.
When the self perception is positive then this unconscious selectivity serves to make us stronger and more able. We focus on the successes, while failures and mistakes become learning opportunities, or even lucky breaks – I’m so glad I messed up when I did, or, that was the moment I realised I needed to change tack.
But when we are negative about ourselves we do the opposite. Let’s say that the personal self belief is: I’m not good with people. Typically we will then focus on every little abrasion and misunderstanding as proof, yet write off the smooth and enjoyable moments of friendship as insignificant, accidental, or worse still – insincere on the part of the other people involved.
The idea that the other person wasn’t really enjoying themselves – wasn’t really laughing, smiling and joking in a ‘true’ way might sound far-fetched, but in my coaching work this is something that comes up constantly – along with an absolute inability to accept compliments at face value. That, after all, would fly in the face of the negative self belief.
Personal Self Beliefs can be Subtle
So far I’ve talked about negative and positive self beliefs, but the term that’s more often used by personal development professionals is self limiting beliefs. Certainly self limiting beliefs can be self perceptions that are very negative – but they can also be much less so and still having a frightening impact in shaping our destiny.
Self limiting beliefs, like all personal self beliefs, can be very specific to certain aspects of our life. They can permit ’success’ but will put unconscious boundaries on that success which we will find very difficult to cross. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have at least a few self limiting beliefs in some area of their life.
These can be things like:
- I’m a jack of all trades
- I do okay but I can only go so far with the talents I’ve got
- I’m a good artist, but people would never pay much for my work
- It doesn’t matter how well I’m doing, something will come along to spoil it
- Success is hard
- My art/music/craft isn’t worthy of much attention
- I don’t have the life experience to be a good writer
Remember that self perceptions like these can feel like unshakeable truths about ourselves – but they are not.
Our Self Limiting Beliefs are not Our Destiny
Well, they actually are, if we accept them as immovable. But countless people have changed their destiny by swapping their limiting self perceptions, their self image, for more empowering and helpful versions.
The first step in doing this though, is realising that they exist – and recognising that they are not the truth of who you are – they are simply an unhelpful version of the truth that can be changed if you decide to.
Taking that one thought on board shifts your view of your own reality, in a profoundly powerful way. If this is a new understanding of the way you are, please, take a moment and think about it now.
You could be on the brink of changing your destiny.
Be Careful What You Think – it might just come true!
The Art of Walking Freely