One vampiric curse we all have is self-doubt. We talk ourselves down from doing things, we second guess ourselves, and we listen to the internal monologue that tells us we are not good enough and our ideas are crap. This self destructive conversation sucks us dry of the motivational life-blood that keeps us going and creating.
I fall victim to self-doubt all the time. But self-doubt doesn’t have to hold us back or tie us down.
I’ve found some metaphorical garlic to keep self-doubt at bay.
Yes, I’m definitely talking about the kind of stuff you would use giving yourself a pep talk in the mirror. Unless you were a vampire. Then you wouldn’t have a reflection.
But I digress.
The concept of engaging with affirmations was introduced to me during the Storymakers Writing Conference in May of last year by a writer named Chelsea Hale who was giving a presentation on motivation. She shared that she keeps her motivation up between being a mom and writing by having a stack of index cards with her writing goals and numerous affirmations on them to help her maintain her focus and positivity.
The affirmation cards help Hale maintain a positive subconscious dialogue as she goes about her day juggling writing, kids, and home life. She includes index cards with her goals on to keep her laser-focused on what she needs to do to move the needle, even when things are distracting her right and left. Hearing Hale talk about how much this stack of affirmations and goals has helped her stay motivated got me excited to try this out for myself.
Building Your Affirmation Deck
Building my affirmation deck has been my favorite part of the whole process. Here are some ideas of what you can include in yours.
Start by making a list of things you don’t have confidence in. This could be anything from addressing your impostor syndrome to your ability to be a good parent or a good employee while juggling your creative pursuits. What are some positive things you can tell yourself to help you overcome the discouraging subconscious dialogue that comes with these insecurities? Here are a few of mine, as an example:
Address your Struggles
I also thought about the areas of my creative process that I struggle with. What things consistently trip you up? Once you have a good working list, you can do a Google search for quotes that address those weaknesses and provide encouragement.
For example, I struggle with blank page paralysis. It is hard for me to get started and just go for it. Here are a few of the quotes I have in my affirmation deck to help me counteract this:
Protect Your Achilles Heel
What trips you up as you’re preparing to enter your creative space? Sometimes in our “preparing” we accidentally self sabotage, forgetting that when we do “that thing” it makes it hard for us to create.
When I’m up at 4 am to write, my brain isn’t at full capacity until about an hour after I get out of bed, so it is easy for me to fall into traps that stunt my creativity, like scrolling through social media. I found I needed cards to remind myself of my “do not do’s” before I can start writing. Here are a few of mine as an example:
Don’t forget to include quotes that inspire and encourage you! These are a huge help and buoy you when you encounter challenges and difficulties. Don’t be afraid to go ham with it. These quotes don’t even have to pertain to your creative projects! As long as they uplift you, your creativity will benefit in the long run.
Make sure you have a few cards in there to remind you of your goals. They could be goals for your creative project, physical, spiritual, whatever you would like, really. It is helpful to have that constant review of what you’re working towards.
Bonus Round: Cheer Squad
Ask those who love you and support you to write you notes of encouragement. They could be from friends, family, mentors, whoever! These cards are some of my favorites to read each morning because they remind me of the support I have and how my friends and family are rooting for me.
Here are some from my cousins, aunt, and uncle wrote for me when I told them about my affirmation deck:
Using Your Affirmation Deck
The most important part of this process is committing to review your affirmations frequently. It’s almost like taking daily medication. Granted, you can get away with reviewing your affirmation deck only when needed, but the driving principle is to prevent the problem of self-doubt and motivation drain, rather than needing to go back and fix it.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how often you review your affirmations. I have had better results when I’ve read mine every day. It is so nice to have reminders of where I’m going, where I’ve been, and encouragement from myself and those I love. It makes a difference on the days when I wake up with morning depression or if I’ve hit a string of discouragements and self-doubt.
Now it’s your turn! Go and make your own affirmation deck, and then spend a week reviewing it before your day gets started. How does it change things? Are there any other things you find help you to include in your deck that I didn’t list? Let me know in the comments below what you think!