Tuesday, 17 January 2012

So my caged drawings got me thinking...

...about my inner demons and what a big part they have played in my life over the years. For those not following my Art is Autobiographical site, I have done a couple of drawings (as you can see) based on the idea that we form our own cages and bend their bars to fit our view of what we can and can't achieve...that we can be our own worst enemies and that sometimes we capture ourselves! They are based on my battles...

When I was younger those inner 'you can't do this' voices really dominated...to the point where I think I subconsiously sabotaged what I was doing so that I could say 'Well, I knew I was never going to be able to do that anyway'...kind of a self-fufilling prophecy! Its improved as I got older...in my mid twenties I took a stand (ha, took a stand against my inner demons...how daft does that sound!) and decided to go for what I actually wanted to do...hence my move into the Charity Sector. I was out of my comfort zone but as I learned and pushed myself forward they got quieter and quieter...then I would do something stupid like say 'Of course I can be Chief Exec and run this company' and they would come back with a vengeance! Still, I did it and again they went quiet. Its funny though...how and when they rear their ugly head...I had no problems about moving to Thailand, none about the work I did there and none about how I was going to cope moving back. They were pretty big things so why were my demons not there telling me that I couldnt do it? *shrugs*

When I got accepted to Uni...well, those of you that have followed my progress know how much of a panic I was in after my induction! It got better but each and every piece of work had me freaking out that it wasn't going to be good enough...I wasn't going to be good enough. I have literally spent the two and a half years that it took me to get my Masters degree in a permanent state of 'I can't do this'. I think it was my fear of failure that pushed me to work as hard as I did which, whilst the outcome was good, the process wasn't the nicest one to go through. I actually wrote a paper about it for my 'managing self and others' module at Uni which led to my dissertation tutor writing 'I am glad you didn’t fall flat on your face at graduation – a more realistic fear than your similar fears about intellectual pursuits' in reply to my e-mail telling him that I had managed to go up the stairs, across the stage, down the stairs and back to my seat without falling over! (Hey, I was in heels...it was totally possible!!).

When I was a kid I thought I could do anything...so when do these demons arrive? Where do they come from? When do they piss off and leave you alone? I know that its not just me that has them...I think everyone has them to a greater or lesser extent...I guess the main thing is how we deal with them. Mine? Well, mine are still there but I am happy to report that, having got my Masters with distinction, they are now a hell of a lot quieter than they have ever been and when they get shouty I am much better at telling them to shut the hell up! (and just in case they are listening...I can and I bloody well will!)

(Oooh, a serious post...that doesn't happen very often!)

21 comments:

  1. We all have those inner demons... mine were mainly hormone-fuelled in my late teens and all through my twenties.

    By the time I hit 30, I was a lot more confident in my own abilities.

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  2. Awwww, hon, a very timely post for me. It's a constant battle with those bloody voices. I'm glad you've tethered yours though. xxx

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  3. I think you probably inherited your demons from me. I have gone through my life wondering when I'll be "found out". Each time I write a book and people say they like it I think: "Phew, got away with it again." I think we can use our demons in one of two ways - to motivate ourselves to JFDI "just f***ing do it", or to submit to them and accept that we're not as good as we'd like to be. Winners and losers. And while it is always possible that we might fail, it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.

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  4. No matter what I accomplish, those demons are still there saying all sorts of nasty things. All any of us can do is give them the finger, so to speak, and just keep trying to do what we're afraid we can't do. Thank goodness we have friends to keep us going! xo

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  5. LadyFi - I struggled in my 20's too and it definitely got better when I reached 30. (Ha, till I took on the role of Chief Exec and then they had a party!!). I'm now 36 and I finally feel like I'm getting them under control...I have enough experience that I can handle most stuff work wise but Uni was really pushing myself out of my comfort zone and that was when they reared their ugly head again!

    Jen - You struggling with yours just now? Its awful isn't it...Its hard enough pushing yourself to do somethign which is important to you...something that takes time, energy and concentration without the voices in the background telling you that you can't do it! For the record hon, you so can...and you will be brilliant!

    Dad - Ahhh, so its you I have to blame is it! I know exactly what you mean when you say you wonder when you'll be 'found out'...I do that too!

    Your right about how we use them too...when I was younger they were dominant but now I use them to motivate me...mind you, as I said, I would rather not have to do battle with my doubts when I'm trying the learn something new or push myself to do better. Why do we do it to ourselves eh?

    Better try and fail than not try at all...Yup, I'd go with that! Even if you fail you learn something along the way...sometimes more than you would had you succeeded and you might be better for it!

    Sue - It always amazes me...I mean look at both you and my Dad...two successful authors yet you still struggle. Maybe creative people struggle more than most because what is produced is so personal?

    Yeah, what would we do without our friends cheering us on from the sidelines...it really does help having them there saying 'You can do it' when your having a wobble and are thinking 'aarrggg'. I don't know where I would be without my friends and families support.

    C x

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  6. This was a timely post for me. Those negative voices ebb and flow - I've done genuinely good things (I'm saying that for context, not to boast) and know that I'm at my best when I've got a good balance between being active and having a certain amount of time to reflect. Right now I do feel very hampered by those negative thoughts reining me in and telling me that I can't, I can't... So it was good to read this, it's helpful. Thank you!

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  7. Oh and I like the images, I hasten to add :)

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  8. Trousers - Its something that I've not blogged about before but it is definitely something I battle with. Your absolutely spot on when you say that they ebb and flow (that's a great way of putting it) and then tend to jump up and grab us at the worst possible moments. I'm sorry that your being hampered by them at the moment...not a nice feeling...not a nice feeling at all! Your not alone and, whatever it is, I know that you can do it!

    Glad you like the pics :-)

    C x

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  9. Carol, oh I have these demons all the time - especially with my degree! halfway through every essay I'm thinking 'I can't do this'. I think you're right though, that those thoughts make you try even harder and therefore get better results!

    I see the lack of self-confidence in my mum and think to myself that I don't want to be like that when I'm older (and there is a risk I might), I constantly have to remind myself of all the things I HAVE achieved. Even long-haul travelling alone has me in a cold sweat for the two weeks beforehand, all those things that could go wrong but never do!

    Great piece about our personal cages, thank you for making me consider my own..

    Juniper xx

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  10. That post has set me thinking. I have had the problem at times but only really when working for a MCP, which I have done on more than one occasion.

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  11. Don't get angry. The other voices are just as bad. I never had the "You can't" voice. I was born with the "Of course you can" voice, which results in my taking on more projects than 10 people can handle. The result - No rest for the weary!

    The art is great!

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  12. Wow.

    The art work is awesome.
    The truth about your inner demons, equally awesome.

    I think half the battle is disempowering them by announcing they're there, doing their number on you. Seriously--they seem to be fueled by the 'secret'.....leastwise they are in my life.

    I don't believe in 'fail'. (just so ya know) I believe there's good to be had no matter the outcome--I learn either way. So it's win/win.

    And I confess, I'm a bit like JJ, I'm a 'watch me.........' kinda gal. Never a good plan to tell me I can't do something....LOL WATCH ME. A deep end of the pool swimmer, toss me in and I'll make it happen. I'll even tell you 'I meant to do that' when I go under a few times. LOL I don't have the sense to listen to 'you can't--and I'm oppositional enough to JUST DO IT. (I suspect that comes from my dislike for fear and my 'you'll never blahblahblah' that I grew up around.)

    Do I wait to get found out--sometimes... But I think I've learned the power in 'telling on myself'. (yes, I'm a bit of a control freak...LOL) Better to confess than to 'be found out' is my line of thinking. And I rather enjoy the reaction of those around me when they discover that I had NO clue what I was doing when I took something on.
    It's great fun!

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  13. Juniper - I so hear you with the essays! I went through exactly the same thing with mine. I think its because its something that is new to us and is designed not to be easy! The daft thing is that you are doing brilliantly (as did I) so each essay should, in theory, be slightly less daunting but that is not the way it works!

    I have to remind myself of my achievements too...that's why I got my 'Strength of heart' tattoo...so that I would have a visual reminder right there when I needed it!

    Cheshire Wife - I have no idea what an MCP is but I'm sorry you experience the demons when your working for them...at least you don't get them the rest of the time :-).

    JJ - I'm glad you don't have the 'I can't' voices :-) mind you...the 'of course I can' sounds like it brings its own set of problems! I think the key is trying to find a balance...I think if we could all do that then we would be a lot happier!

    Mel - I think you are totally right you know...bringing them out into the light does seem to diminish their power. I guess its like waking up at 2am and worrying about something...it seems HUGE at 2am but when you think about the issue again in the cold light of day it doesn't seem so insurmountable!

    LOL...I can almost hear you say 'Just watch me'. I'm much more like that now...before...if someone told me I couldn't I would believe them. I guess part of that is getting older, growing up and understanding more about me as a person and what I am capable of.

    As for the 'found out'. There isnt actually anything to 'find out' its more that you are not confident in your abilities, your 'winging it', and at some point someone is going to look at you and say 'your faking it...you don't know what your talking about'. I went back to Uni to try and combat that...so that I had something to back me up...so that I could turn round and say 'Actually...I do know what I'm talking about and I have my Masters to prove it'. Before I used to defer to people who I thought were more experienced or better qualified than me...regardless of whether I was right or not. I don't do that anymore..I have the confidence to argue my point.

    I do like the fact that you 'tell on yourself' I do that too :-)

    C x

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  14. My art tutor used to say - you can do anything you like; whether anyone likes it doesn't matter and isn't the point. Whilst I wouldn't apply that to medical science, I think its not a bad motto generally.

    And I agree with you Dad's comments above, especially about writing. But hey, that's Peter May best selling author saying that - so I don't feel quite so bad.

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  15. Mark - That's not a bad motto at all. I try to go on the basis that its what I think thats important but it doesn't always work!

    lol...yeah, your not on your own there!

    C x

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  16. This has been a lifelong battle for me, particularly with my creative endeavours. So your drawings meant a lot to me when I saw them. For a number of years I've been working toward a certificate in Expressive Arts, and it's helped me somewhat. But it's a constant battle - and I hate the word battle!

    Have you ever seen the TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert? If not, google it, it's worth twenty minutes of your time. In it she asks, why do we do this to ourselves? Why does art/creativity have to be synonymous with suffering and angst?

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  17. Jennifer - Urgh, its horrible isn't it! I'm combatting the voices when it comes to work but creatively...I'm nowhere near getting them to 'shush'! One of the reasons I wanted to do the drawing a day was to try and get over my 'nervous wreck' tendencies about people seeing my work and perhaps to try and get over my feelings of 'not being good enough'...I'm not sure what I think I'm not good enough for but I carry round this 'not good enough' feeling. I thought posting a pic a day might help me get over that (It hasn't yet...perhaps by the end of the year...but don't hold your breath!) and help me get better ant expressing myself though my art.

    I've not seen it but I'm going to make time to watch it over the weekend. It sounds really interesting!

    C x

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  18. For me, when I was about 12 a trusted adult told me I wasn't smart enough to be an archaeologist. She pretty much told me I wasn't bright enough to do anything. This wonderful encouragement continued all the way through high school and into college. Thank goodness I met my brilliant husband who believed in me and pushed me. Those feelings of inadequacy still creep up on me.

    Your drawings are wonderful! I saw a similar picture in San Francisco at the Vietnam Veteran's art museum. Very cool stuff, Carol!

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  19. Sharon - Why do people do that!? I remember being told that Art School was really hard to get into and I probably wasn't good enough...hmmm...that's maybe where my 'Not good enough' feelings come from now that I think about it!

    To be honest, I'm the same as you...Chris has been brilliant and has always been there in the background saying 'Of course you can do it' and that does make a hell of a difference!

    *goes off to google Vietnam Veteran's Art Museum*

    C x

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  20. Fear is such a strange emotion. It can work for us (save us from making mistakes) and it can work against us (save us from making mistakes). So it's that whole good/bad thing going on. :) It's in the trying of something that builds confidence - whether or not it's a success. And why are we so hard on ourselves? Harder on ourselves than anyone else could ever be...that's something I'll be working on myself until the day I die.

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  21. Talon - It is a strange emotion...I can serve us well in some instances and be such a hinderence in others!

    I agree, if you never try then you will automatically fail...I now ask myself 'Well, if I do this..what is the worst that can happen?' and the answer to that isn't usually that bad!

    I have no idea why we are so hard on ourselves. If we heard someone speaking to a friend of ours the way we speak to ourselves we would be horrified and leap to their defence. I don't know why we seem to think its ok to treat ourselves that way...but we do!

    C x

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