“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”Vincent van Gogh
This quote never ceases to inspire and encourage me. It reminds me everyone experiences self-doubt and discouragement, and I am not alone in feeling it. Our friends experience it. Our family. Our coworkers and bosses. Our children. Our husbands. The strangers we pass by in the store. Even those people we see as successful. At one point or another, self-doubt has smothered us all.
Are you experiencing self-doubt? Discouragement? Do you fear you will never be good enough or ever get to the place you are moving toward?
Over the past month or so, doubt, discouragement, and fear have been my constant companions. They are there when I wake up and when I fall asleep. They’re there when I’m working and when I’m resting. They’re there no matter what I do or where I go. I can’t seem to shake them despite my various yet vain attempts. So, today, I decided to write a post about it.
First, we must find the perpetrator, the cause. Why do we become discouraged in the first place?
If we begin to look back at recent events, we may find what instigated the haunting. Maybe something didn’t go as planned. Maybe we received criticism or feedback that took a blow at our self-confidence. Maybe we’re burned out, tired, exhausted. Maybe we can’t see the way out.
For me, it was probably a combination of all those above and maybe it could be for you too. But whatever the reason, one thing is in common: We got to this point was because we cared so much about something (whether it be a dream, time, relief, hope) and we didn’t get it/it didn’t happen/it hasn’t happened yet.
Almost four years ago, I created this blog to document my time in South Korea and discuss what I was learning. I had recently discovered dreams could come true and I could do a lot more than I gave myself credit for. Since then, I have continued to work toward goals I believe God placed in my heart and never stopped pushing myself to keep growing and step out of my comfort zones. I pursued my dream teaching English in Asia and loved it. I then pursued my dream to dance in a Christian ballet company. After Covid, I returned to my hometown and began pursuing my biggest and most closely held dream: to be an author.
During the lockdown, I began to write again and decided to temporarily set aside my blog to focus on a project. I have been working on that project since. I recently received welcomed feedback on my project, but the problem was my confidence in my fiction writing is lacking. Hearing anything negative about it knocks me flat and discourages me instantly. I have since tried to tell myself that the feedback was necessary and helpful. I knew where my weaknesses were now and could focus my attention on growing in that area. I’d tell myself, “Some of the feedback was very positive and good. Why are you trembling over the negativities when they’re fixable?”
Yet, in spite of my attempts to pretend I was fine, I wasn’t. How did I know I wasn’t fine? Because since then I have lost joy in my writing which never failed to bring me joy before. I always loved every part of writing, even the hard parts. But the discouragement hit me so hard, I buckled under the weight. Inspiration and creativity drained out of me, and writing became sickening, hard, and painful. Everything I wrote was met by my unforgiving inner critic.
I knew my emotions were not affected by the feedback itself, but rather by me and my lack of confidence. I already was my greatest critic, so hearing someone’s honest feedback fed my inner critic and gave it ammunition. Suddenly, the voice that had been only a whisper before became shouts, and the inner dialogue tore me down.
“You can’t do this. You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You won’t and can’t get any better. You’re stuck where you are and can’t overcome this. You will NEVER be good enough. Your dreams will wilt and shrivel. This is the end.”
Writing it out, I realize one thing: How overly dramatic our inner voice can be. Why would we listen to something so absolute when we have no idea how far we can go or how much we will change and grow over the years?
I knew why I was struggling to write. It wasn’t because I couldn’t. It was because my mind was saying I couldn’t.
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.Sylvia Plath
One thing I have learned is people can do amazing, mind-blowing things if we don’t limit them. We only go as far as our limitations. People may try to limit us and often do, but the most important limitations are those we place on ourselves. What are some limits you put on yourself?
“Our doubts are traitors,William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”
“Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do. Don’t let the limitations of others limit your vision. If you can remove your self-doubt and believe in yourself, you can achieve what you never thought possible.”Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
We need to drop those limitations we are putting up and believe in ourselves. When we look at the great artists, inventors, philosophers, scientists, athletes, and anyone else we find successful, we can see they have all had limitations put on them. People told them, “You can’t do that. It’s not possible.”
Yet they ignored those voices, believed in themselves, and did it anyway. We can too, if we can first believe in ourselves… even if no one else does.
However, there is some good news. We are not the only person who believes in us. Someone else believes in us more than we ever could and always has. And that Someone is God.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”Deuteronomy 31:8
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.Isaiah 40:31
Look at all these signs of God believing in us, encouraging us, and telling us He is always by our side to help us when the going gets tough. He is whispering, “Believe in Me. I am with you and will never forsake you. I will guide you and help you for all things are possible with Me. If you have faith even as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you” ( Mark 9:23, Philippians 4: , Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:22, James1:6, Romans 10:11, 1 Chronicles 28:20, Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Joshua 1:9, Hebrews 13:6, Matthew 19:26).
Don’t be afraid of your shortcomings. In fact, we should rejoice in them. It is in our weaknesses that God’s strength is seen.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”2 Corinthians 12:9
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.Hebrews 12:1-3
What are some things holding you back? What are some limitations you believe? Begin some positive dialogue within yourself. Write out your doubts and fears and create a mantra to combat those thoughts. As an example, mine would be:
“I can do this. I am good enough. I am smart enough. I can and will get better. I can go far and accomplish my dreams. My dreams will thrive. This is only the beginning. With God, all things are possible. God’s power is made perfect in my weaknesses.”
Say this mantra to yourself over and over until you believe it. Words have power. If you speak negatively, your attitude and circumstances will reflect it, and vice versa. Keep going and don’t let fear, discouragement, or doubt stop you.
“Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage.”Neal A. Maxwell
Good luck, my friends!
I would love to see the mantras people create for themselves. If you want, please comment it below or any advice you have in facing discouragement and doubt. I would love to hear from you! We’re all in this together!
—The Adversity Rose—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, pursuing dreams, and personal growth.