How “What- Ifs” Slash Creative Confidence and What to Do

Photo by Horia Varlan on Flickr

Photo by Horia Varlan on Flickr

What-ifs are a part of life. We wonder if something is good or bad, light-hearted or embarrassing, a smart move or a set-back…the list can grow as long as the brain has life to power it, whether you direct active attention to it or not. So when it comes to letting your own what-ifs run wild, you have an opportunity to reign in the mind and determine if you are day dreaming to help build creative confidence, or slowly self-sabotaging it. Here’s how certain “what-ifs” burn through creative confidence and what to do about it.

Be Open to Understanding the What-if Beast

Without what-if scenarios, would romantic comedies even exist? Would people continue to dream and create by visualizing of a diverse and different future? Could people push out of their comfort zones to invent new and amazing things that solve community and world problems? Maybe — but what-ifs are a big part of the creation process. So it’s important to have a strong sense of knowing what is really going on when you are letting your mind wander. Are you attempting to help fire up creative what-ifs, stretching your imagination and child-like wonder OR fixating on ALL the possible worst-case scenarios strictly out of fear and desire to be “prepared?”

These are two extremely different things. One set of “what-ifs” feed your heart and soul, the other kind sends it into a tail-spin while being fired-on with a BB gun. The shots scrape and sting, leaving behind a bunch of welts and bruises, while the constant mental spinning makes it simply impossible to tell what is the “true” right or left. After an experience like this, who wouldn’t feel all turned around, creative confidence on the nose-dive?

So the most important question to ask yourself here is: Am I willing to be open to understanding how my mind works, and what thoughts can get me closer to balance and creative inspiration?

Make Time to Listen to the Heart Along with the Mind Chatter (to a point)…

Getting to the heart of inner understanding is a unique and life-long journey that unfolds at a different pace for each person. To tap into what feeds your creative confidence requires a willingness to spend time in quiet contemplation, watching the contents of your inner monologue. As you take time out to do this regularly through meditation, yoga, a walk or other physical activity, (consistency is important) you will begin to notice how different thoughts make you feel (empty, scared, lonely, happy, joyful, excited, etc.). This will provide you with a baseline for how you specifically identify with your own thoughts on a regular basis. Once you get comfortable with this process, it’s a bit easier to understand your own triggers in all your states of mind.

An important question to ask yourself in order to get things clear in the mind and heart could be: “What makes me happy right now, in this moment, and how can I take a step towards FEELING positive about it in my physical body?

You Always Have A Choice

One of the big keys to inner creative wisdom and connection is as simple as taking the time and making a choice that feels good in the moment. If you notice certain thoughts always send you into a tailspin, then recognize the behavior, drop the thoughts and refocus on something else positive or neutral as soon as possible. And yes, you WILL need to practice it over and over. And don’t let outside influences make you feel “pressured” into thinking you HAVE to do something specific with any sense of immediacy. Feelings that we put a judgement on can also make us feel as if we need to act quickly, just to move away from feeling something unpleasant as quickly as possible. This can be a slippery slope, because often where the fear lies is where the creative block lies as well, and the only way past is through, baby.

It might help to ask yourself: Am I afraid to take a step forward because I doubt myself or am I unsure of what I really want out of the experience?

Most Important, Drop the Judgment

One of the ways thoughts can cause pain or drain the creative well is when we start to judge them; what they are, where they came from, why we have them, why they won’t go away… the possibilities are endless. So why feed into them, powering up more judgy thoughts into a whirlwind?

Take a thought for what it is, a thought. Not a life sentence. Not a certainty, not something that has to be done right now. That is the beauty of the thought — you need to put intention and action behind it for it to make an impact. However, when there are more and more thoughts grouped together in a similar judgement, they can make you feel a range of emotions that take a chunk out of creative confidence.

If you find slipping into judgment is common, ask yourself: “Is this thought really true? Can I let go of attaching a particular emotion to a thought or series of thoughts? Can I ever really know what another person is thinking or intending without actually speaking with them about it? And even then, can I really, truly know?

Taking these key perspectives into consideration will help knock loose some long-standing thought patterns that drain creativity. Then you can establish a baseline for building up an awareness to help create new behaviors of discernment that can really shift your moment to moment thinking, and help bring you to peace and rest in the present moment — where all inspiration and creative confidence takes shape.

Are there certain pitfalls and frustrations that often take a bit out of your creative confidence? How do you deal with them? What relaxation techniques or activities really help bring you back to center?