Finding authentic faith in artistic expression
I remember my first “vision board.”
I spent all day feverishly cutting out photos of old bungalow-style houses with porch swings, beach vacations and strong, fit, successful women. I printed out my bank statement and added a few zeros to the balance. I typed and printed the words, “New York Times Best Selling Author, Ivy Shelden” and plastered it among the other photos and clippings.
Here we go, I thought. Now I’m ready to start believing in myself.
I stared at the board until my eyes crossed. Next to the vision board, I’d printed a list of “affirmations” to say aloud each day, until I believed them. They included statements like:
I am worthy of, and open to abundance.
I am thankful for my new job. (I didn’t have one yet)
Every morning I stood in front of that laundry room door — staring, reciting.
Strangely, nothing in my life changed. I remained terrified to sit at my computer and express myself through writing — let alone share my work with anyone.
I felt even more empty, staring into the faces of women who weren’t me, and houses I didn’t own. Uttering words I didn’t believe.
I felt defective for not having stronger faith.
I tried praying and meditating. I read every self-help book in my local library, followed every life coach’s blog. Still, no change.
I thought, Why do I still doubt my potential when I try so hard not to?
As I hovered a trembling finger over the download button to another audio book, I paused. Instead, I tossed my phone to the side and sat quietly, eyes closed.
Although my body was still, I could feel my mind screaming for more action. We need to do something it pleaded, everything we want is slipping through our fingers!
I recognized that voice in my head: Fear.
Fear of missing out.
Fear of not fulfilling my true purpose.
Fear of my talent withering on the vine.
Fear was driving my self-help obsession — my reading and podcast addictions. It pervaded the photos on my vision board — dripped from my affirmations.
My vision board felt like a highlight reel for everything I was lacking — it created distance between myself and my true desires.
There they are, and here I am. Separate. I must wish myself up to their level.
And you know what I wasn’t doing while I was creating that vision board?
Go figure that one. I realized that my self-help gimmicks were also a convenient excuse to avoid what scares me most: engaging my gifts, and making myself vulnerable to criticism and failure.
I thought I needed to be in the right frame of mind (i.e. believing wholly in my abilities) to even start working.
No blogger or self-help book can teach you to believe in yourself. You have to pop those earbuds out, drag yourself up off the couch, and work. Day after day, no matter how messy or imperfect the result.
You must see yourself persist through fear and uncertainty, time and time again, to develop self-trust.
You don’t need a list of affirmations. You only need to believe it’s possible to make a difference in the world with your art.
You don’t have to be perfect or know everything, you just have to begin. And keep going.
Do this, and you’ll accomplish far beyond anything you could ever paste on a vision board.
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