Who Am I Kidding? How to Stop Self-Sabotage


“Who am I to do this?”

“What am I thinking?”

“I’m not (fill in the blank) enough.”

These are questions creative people in the visual and performing arts ask themselves every day. They are the questions that stop an artist from starting a project. Stop an actor from going out for a major audition. Stop a musician from completing a score.

A creative person doesn’t like to be stopped so she Finds Excuses And Reasons (F.E.A.R.) to justify the stoppage and make herself feel better, even if only for a moment.

“The secret of success in life is to be ready when your opportunity comes.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Yes, when you are finding excuses and reasons to say no to the work, say no to the opportunity, say no to your desires, you are in fear. The fear could be rooted in many misguided beliefs. You could fear failure, not believing that failure is a stepping stone to success. You could fear judgment, not able to separate yourself from the work . You could fear rejection, not centered in the truth of who you are.

Surprisingly what most creative people fear is the fear of Success. Fear of success can be just as paralyzing as fear of failure. Success is scary because it involves change. It is a move beyond the current comfort zone, a move into a vulnerable unknown territory. With success comes more challenges and responsibilities – and that can be threatening.

Even if Success is achieved, many people succumb to their fear of success and self-sabotage. You see examples of this type of self-sabotage nearly daily in the tabloids. Celebrities, politicians, business tycoons caught in the act of doing something that publicly damages their business , reputation and career.

“Who am I Kidding?”

“Who am I to do this?”

“What am I thinking?”

“I’m not (fill in the blank) enough.”

And, if successful; “It’s only a matter of time before they find out that I’m not really enough.”

And that’s where the self-sabotaging behavior comes in.

People fear that they may not be able to live up to their achievements. They’re afraid of tasting success and then losing it. They’re afraid of the humiliation that can come with such a loss. So, they find excuses and reasons not to move forward on the path to success in the first place. If they manage to achieve success, they will create some drama – an event – that will prove to their inner critic that the belief is true, they are not enough.

The Inner Critic loves to be right. It loves to be safe in the current comfort zone. It works hard to prove it’s rightness and stay safe. If you are procrastinating or finding excuses and reasons then you are a victim to your own Inner Critic.

The good news is that once you’ve noticed your self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors you can do something about them. You can make different choices. When you hear that Inner Critic voice reminding you that you are not enough you can just stop thank it for ‘sharing’, and take a breath. With your next breath, ask yourself the following questions:

Not Enough? According to whom?

Is that true? How can I know this is absolutely true?

Are there any examples of when I have been enough? (Find examples. There are plenty of times in your life when you have been good enough. If you’re reading this article you’re reading skills are good enough!)

Who would I be, what would I do and what would I have if I was successful? Imagine that lifestyle vividly. In great detail. Feel it. Hold this vision of your life as a successful artist with you as you go about your life and your work.

And, most importantly, put one foot in front of the other and say yes to your work. Say yes to yourself as a creative being.

“Success supposes endeavor.” – Jane Austen

Copyright (c) 2009 Valery Satterwhite