I am fulfilled as I trust my inner guidance.

SELF-APPROVAL — Winning Within and Overcoming the Competition of Self-Doubt

Week 10, Day 7 of The Artist's Way

Today, let's go within to find the approval we seek instead of looking for it in the competition that blocks us.


Competition is another spiritual drug.

When we focus on competition we poison our own well, impede our own progress. When we are ogling the accomplishments of others, we take our eye away from our own through line. We ask ourselves the wrong questions, and those wrong questions give us the wrong answers.

Competition lies at the root of much creative blockage.

As artists, we must go within. We must attend to what it is our inner guidance is nudging us toward. We cannot afford to worry about what is in or out. If it is too early or late for a piece of work, its time will come again.

As artists, we cannot afford to think about who is getting ahead of us and how they don’t deserve it. 

The desire to be better than can choke off the simple desire to be.

As artists we cannot afford this thinking. It leads us away from our own voices and choices and into a defensive game that centers outside of ourselves and our sphere of influence. It asks us to define our own creativity in terms of someone else’s. 

The spirit of competition—as opposed to the spirit of creation—often urges us to quickly winnow out whatever doesn’t seem like a winning idea. This can be very dangerous. It can interfere with our ability to carry a project to term.

Never, ever, judge a fledgling piece of work too quickly.

Be willing to paint or write badly while your ego yelps resistance. Your bad writing may be the syntactical breakdown necessary for a shift in your style. Your lousy painting may be pointing you in a new direction. Art needs time to incubate, to sprawl a little, to be ungainly and misshapen and finally emerge as itself. The ego hates this fact. The ego wants instant gratification and the addictive hit of an acknowledged win.

The need to win—now!—is a need to win approval from others. 

As an antidote, we must learn to approve of ourselves. Showing up for the work is the win that matters.

(The Artist's Way, 2016, p. 172-175)

I am fulfilled as I trust my inner guidance.

I am fulfilled as I trust my inner guidance.

I am fulfilled as I trust my inner guidance.

I am fulfilled as I trust my inner guidance.

The Awful Truth Exercise

Answer the following questions:

Tell the truth. What habit do you have that gets in the way of your creativity?

Tell the truth. What do you think might be a problem? It is.

What do you plan to do about the habit or problem?

What is your payoff in holding on to this block? 

If you can’t figure out your payoff, ask a trusted friend.

Tell the truth. Which friends make you doubt yourself? (The self-doubt is yours already, but they trigger it.)

Tell the truth. Which friends believe in you and your talent? (The talent is yours, but they make you feel it.)

What is the payoff in keeping your destructive friends? If the answer is, “I like them,” the next question is, “Why?”

Which destructive habits do your destructive friends share with your destructive self? 

Which constructive habits do your constructive friends share with your constructive self?

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

– Lao-Tzu

What is a current process that enlivens your inner artist?

Share in the comments below👇


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