I’ve been thinking a lot lately about instinct.

Follow your heart, trust your gut, know thyself….

As a creative person, there is perhaps nothing more important than trusting your own voice or vision for your art, trusting the process, trusting the universe, trusting that you have something to say and that it is relevant or important… and yet, as a creative person I find there is nothing harder for me than doing that.

To trust myself.

Oh, I have my moments. Times when I truly believe in what I’m doing, what I’m trying to achieve. When I feel ‘on fire’ and confident in what I’m doing. When I’m in love with my ideas and excited to try them, without even a shadow of a censor lurking. The magic moments.

But I find that I go through waves of emotion in the making of any given piece of art or film. The high of making it, the low after the making of it is over, when the doubts start to creep in (and its too late to change things) and then the sort of slow rise back up to an objective place where I can see the value of the work again, the positive things, the things that I could be proud of, and yes, the things I would do differently, but with a level head, less tempered by emotion and creative adrenaline.

The most challenging thing is to trust your instinct in the face of disagreement. You have an idea, and it gets questioned, or someone makes a suggestion to change it.. and you have to decide whether to stick with your original idea or take the advice/rethink it. This happens frequently in film making, less so in art making because its a more individual process. In the end, you’re the one who has to live with that decision and if you allow yourself to be coerced into something, if you stop listening to your instincts, stop trusting yourself, even for a moment or two, that can sit with you forever.

It can be very damaging for a very long time. That feeling like you betrayed yourself, that you sacrificed some essence of yourself to ‘please’ someone else, and it can creep in where you least expect it. Like say the next time someone questions your ideas. Your doubt compounds upon itself to a point where you stop believing you have anything worth saying or that your ideas are any good. All of them. Not just the one being criticized at that moment.

I don’t have a magic solution for this problem. If I did, I wouldn’t struggle with it so much. But a friend said to me once, “Just remember that you are the only YOU there is, no one else can give the world what you can so its not really up to you to decide if its good or not, but rather to put it out there as only you can.” And that’s really the heart of it isn’t it? Because if you constantly dim your brightness to accommodate others’, if you repeatedly allow your ideas to be watered down or replaced with someone else’s, then you never even get to see the impact that your voice has. You never get to see if your idea really was a good one. You’re so busy trying to please others that it becomes washed out, a pale ghost of the idea it should have  or could have been. Even if your idea ultimately sucks, its better to learn that for real rather than regret the never having seen it come to life in the first place.

How else can you learn and grow your voice, and your trust in your voice without truly testing it out – don’t just let your voice join the chorus. Break out there and do the scary solo – because even if your voice cracks or is off-key its still a risk worth taking.

17 responses to “Instincts

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