The Lies We Tell Ourself and How to Break Free From Self-Imposed Limitations
Are there things you wish you could do, but “know” you can’t because you don’t have the talent?
Around ten or twelve years ago, before I got the rose tattoo on my ankle I studied images of roses and planned out a design. I even made a sketch and brought it and lots of photographs with me to my appointment. I clearly remember telling the tattoo artist “I want something like this sketch, but I can’t draw”.
For some reason I believed I couldn’t draw. Many other times I remember telling people, “I’m not an artist”. Worse, I said it to myself.
It would be a few more years before I started to question my belief. Maybe I began to realize drawing and art-making is something I could learn, not an innate ability. Or maybe it was just that my desire to make art outweighed my belief I couldn’t do it. My first paintings weren’t so great, but with determination and practice I got better.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” —Vincent Van Gogh
I think we probably all place limitations on ourselves based on lies. Maybe someone said something to us in the past and we’ve since adopted their beliefs as our own. Maybe personal experiences “taught” us lessons that simply are not true. Or maybe “expert” advice tells us that what we’re dreaming isn’t possible.
For a very long time I’ve wanted to try embroidery, to create my own designs and bring them to life. Again and again I would tell people (and myself) I’m not good at embroidery. I’m not good at hand sewing. I’ll just stick my fingers with the needle and bleed all over the fabric if I try to sew by hand. I imagined I could create designs but would need to find someone else to embroider them.
But recently I began to imagine I could try again to learn. Over the years I’d broken free from some of the other limitations I’d put on myself, why not this one too?
I have lots of fabric and I have lots of thread stored away in the closet in my studio. Last week I pulled out some of both and sat down to begin learning. With the help of Rebecca Ringquist’s class on Creativebug I tried my hand at some stitches. It was fun.
Now I’m completely hooked and my brain is exploding with possibilities.
Those stories I told myself about not being able to embroider weren’t true just as the stories I’d told myself about drawing and painting weren’t true.
My word for this year is GROW. I’ve been keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts. I’m trying new things. I’m experimenting. I’m setting aside my self-imposed limitations and it feels good.
Maybe nothing will come of my experiments. Maybe nothing will come of my dabbling with embroidery, but the act of breaking free from limitations, of overcoming fears, of questioning my beliefs… that is true growth.
So tell me, what is it that you would like to try and what’s been holding you back from trying it?