It happened to me today. A project I’ve been working on for a long time no longer made sense. Suddenly my mind was deluged with questions. Am I spending too much time on it? Is it likely to see any return that equates to the investment of my time? And, er, what on earth were my reasons for doing this in the first place?
All my reasoning and motivation were gone. It’s like hitting the wall in a marathon. Nothing makes sense to you and everything that has driven you this far has abruptly and mysteriously abandoned you. Sound familiar?
These crisis of confidence moments are uncomfortable. We may even end up searching the web for the answer to our sudden crisis. (Maybe that’s how you ended up here. Thank you Google!) Anything to help us feel a little better and get us out of this feeling and back to the task at hand.
But stop! These feelings are here for a reason. At least let’s give them some time to settle before dismissing them.
A recent article in Scientific American says that negative emotions are key to our well-being.
I think negative emotions are key to our success!
It’s time to let these emotions linger awhile. Sit in that discomfort. It’s an important part of the creative process. For example:
- The crisis of confidence helps you to re-examine what you’ve got.
What does your project actually consist of? Is it a bunch of incoherent ideas (which your negative critic might tell you) or is there something more to it? This is the time to evaluate. It lets you ask if this project is really right for you. You can look critically at the potential of the project and whether the return is worth your time and investment.You don’t need to act on your answers just yet, just let yourself explore the possibilities of passing on this project and moving on to something new. How would that make you feel?Explore and let yourself feel it.
- It's a perspective outside of yourself
When you’re in this state you effectively have your worst critic giving you feedback. Use it!If you only think positive thoughts about your project, there’s a higher chance that your positivity is clouding your judgement. Being negative for a little while allows us to improve, work harder and realign. You don’t have to beat yourself up, just let your inner critic rag on you for a little while, write down anything useful, then tell it to go away again, thank you!Then get to work!
- It’s a release of negative emotions.
Negative feelings, especially ones we are repressing or trying to hide from, have a habit of building up. Once they hit a critical mass they come out, whether we like it or not. As long as you’re not throwing things or yelling at your kids, catharsis is good.Let yourself feel bad. Feel the hurt. It’s safe to allow the release. If you need to yell at the sea, punch a cushion or sob into a whole box of Kleenex, let it out!
- Positive Self-Talk
Now that you’ve got those negative emotions out of your system, your inner critic has had his say and is safely relegated to the attic, it’s time to employ some lurve. Self love. No not that kind. I mean positive talk, a chance for your flagging ego to practice the art of positive nurture and compassion. Be kind to yourself!Do something nice for yourself. Take yourself on a date. Buy yourself a treat. Talk to yourself as you might talk to a child or someone you loved. Visualise hugging and supporting the younger version of yourself. Would you tell them it’s ok not to be perfect? Would you say that they’re doing their best? Say what would you say to them to make them feel better and more confident again.Give yourself that gift!
- Talk to collaborators
Your crisis of confidence is a chance to find out how your co-workers and collaborators feel about the project. Sharing your doubts as well as your nurturing process shows them you are human, which is never a bad thing.It gives them the chance to relate to you and share any doubts of their own - chances are you’re not the only person feeling it. You find out the level of their commitment and dispel any concerns.The crisis of confidence, if honestly approached, creates a natural opportunity for everyone to re-invest and get excited again.
So next time you’re finding yourself doubting, when the entire reason for your enterprise has suddenly turned into a question mark, don’t fret. Let yourself go through the process. Feel those feelings. Let yourself examine it. Don’t be afraid to let yourself see where you end up.
Your project will be all the stronger for it.