Unlocking Your Potential: 5 Exercises to Build Creative Confidence | Emma Gannon | Skillshare

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Unlocking Your Potential: 5 Exercises to Build Creative Confidence

teacher avatar Emma Gannon, Author, Broadcaster, Podcast Host

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Why We Self-Sabotage


    • 3.

      Identify Your Patterns


    • 4.

      Overcome Perfectionism


    • 5.

      Beat Procrastination


    • 6.

      Silence Your Inner Critic


    • 7.

      Embrace Self-Promotion


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Dream of finally finishing that draft or launching that side-hustle? Make your next creative project your best yet, with simple steps from creative superstar Emma Gannon!

In this new class, Emma shares the framework that allowed her to overcome self-doubt and carve her own path as an author, broadcaster, and podcast host. The secret to her success? Fed up with feeling afraid—of failure, of not being good enough, even of success—Emma dug into the science behind self-sabotage and learned exactly how to get out of her own way.

Now, Emma is sharing what she’s learned so that you can do the same: unlock your creative potential while feeling energized and empowered! 

Together with Emma, you will:

  • Identify the patterns in your life, and let go of habits that don’t serve you
  • Cut out comparison to figure out what you really want and need
  • Silence your inner critic by talking back to negative beliefs and behaviors
  • Own your success and vulnerability—both go hand-in-hand with creativity

Packed with insights and examples from Emma’s personal journey, this class is designed for every creative who needs a pep-talk or extra push to get started—and includes five exclusive downloadable worksheets to support you along the way.

Whether you’re looking to break through block, remove self-imposed pressure, or simply approach each new project with intention, this 45-minute class will unlock your confidence as a creative. Get started and celebrate taking the first step!


All you need to follow along is a pen and paper. Download the worksheets to follow along with Emma’s exercises, or jot your thoughts in a notebook.

Meet Your Teacher

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Emma Gannon

Author, Broadcaster, Podcast Host


Emma Gannon is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her career guide The Multi-Hyphen Method was a business bestseller and her debut novel OLIVE was nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2022.

She is also a trained coach, host of the no. 1 creative careers podcast in the UK, (Ctrl Alt Delete) and speaks on the themes of wellbeing, creativity, digital culture and living life on your own terms.

She is a trained coach and experienced speaker and has spoken at TEDx, the Oxford Union, Founders Forum, Instagram, Amazon and Google. She has also appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4 (Woman's Hour, MoneyBox and Word Of Mouth), BBC Radio 2 (Simon Mayo) and BBC Radio 1 (Life Hacks). She is a trusted panel host and has interviewed everyone from... See full profile

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1. Introduction: On the other side of beating self-sabotage, really, is just stepping into this space of letting good things happen to you. I'm Emma Gannon, I'm a writer, a novelist, a podcaster, and I call myself a multi-hyphenate because I do a few different things. Today's class is about self-sabotage, identifying it, and beating it with five different exercises. For me, self-sabotage literally means those occasions in life where you know that you're standing in your own way, you can't quite get started, or you are so scared of showing anyone the first draft of your work, or you spend hours and hours perfecting something and then totally deleting it all. Once we've identified the behaviors, we can slowly try and unpick them and make a new way of living. I definitely suffer with self-sabotage, which means that really this class is like all of the stuff that I've researched, really getting out of my system or the things that I do, boiled down to some really quick exercises. We're going to talk about perfectionism, procrastination, the inner critic, and also our fear of self-promotion. You should take this class if you are any sorts of creative, which is pretty much everyone. Really, it is about realizing that you're allowed to be successful in your own way, and you're allowed to take up space, and you're allowed to believe in yourself. I'm excited to get started and I'm glad that you are on this self-sabotage journey. That sounds like we're going to self-sabotage, so no. 2. Why We Self-Sabotage: I think this class is probably one that it takes a bit of courage to click on because we're going to look into some of our own patterns, maybe some of the behaviors that we don't really want to talk about. So if you are here and you're taking this class, then welcome and I'm really glad you have clicked on it. Self-sabotage in the past has had quite a negative connotation. I think it sounds quite scary, overwhelming, even maybe slightly aggressive or embarrassing or shameful even. But actually, all it means is that we have a really strong layer of self-protection and it's totally normal and totally human, and it's actually a way of our brain and our body trying to look after us. We're scared and we want to make sure that we're not just diving off the edge of a cliff. The thing with self-sabotage is when our behaviors, and self-doubt, and niggling things like that actually start getting in the way and they actually start ruining some of the outcomes of things that we really want to go well. It can be very small behaviors. Sometimes for me, it's saying yes to going to, I don't know, some late night party when I've got a 6:00 AM wake up call the next day. It's just it's in the decisions that we make and it's basically putting ourselves in a situation where the outcome will be made worse by the self-sabotaging that we're doing. Researching self-sabotage has been super interesting because sometimes it's not what we think it is. So sometimes we think we self-sabotage because we're actually really afraid, and we're just full of fear, and we don't want to get started because what if it fails. That is true but on the other side of that, we're actually deeply afraid of being successful and we're really afraid that actually the thing that we do might reach lots of people, and lots of people might see it. Therefore, we would be scared of the comments we'd get or the visibility we'd have and so we actually sometimes afraid of our own happiness, which sounds quite deep, but it's good to get into why we do what we do and the reasons behind it. So this class really is an amalgamation of the work that I've done in my book that's called Sabotage. I've interviewed researchers, and psychologists, and behavioral scientists and for me, I know that I am so much better now. I'm doing my book and even preparing this class has helped me massively. I actually was really inspired by this topic after going for a Reiki session where the women who was talking to me were saying that things could be so much better if I just got out of my own way. It really spoke to me because I think when you realize that you're not quite letting things in, you can sabotage the end result which could be amazing. This class is really digging into the four different types of self-sabotage and they are perfectionism, procrastination, inner critic, and a fear of self-promotion. These are four of the classic ways that we self-sabotage a project or an idea. Each lesson will include space for self-reflection, some tips, and some tools to look at what you're doing and how you can move forward and also, some practical exercises that you might need a pen and paper for. So follow along at home and you can upload to the project galleries and also, we can discuss on the discussion board as well. What's really good about this topic, I think, is when we talk about it out loud, and we admit that we do it, and we talk about our own experiences and also our own learnings. It can really build a really great community in the creative industries because we're all, maybe individuals trying to make something but being part of a bigger conversation is always really helpful. Next up is our first lesson, and it's about identifying your patterns. 3. Identify Your Patterns: This lesson is all about identifying your patterns. It's really useful to do just in general because you get to know yourself a bit more. I feel like we should all try and follow our patterns throughout life. So this one really is about identifying those patterns that show up when we feel at almost vulnerable and how we can try and put ourselves in more of a sturdy position to give things a go. This isn't about identifying one-off failures and things that are totally human and normal. It's all normal. But this is more about identifying repeat behaviors that we do. We're going to be covering four very classic types of self-sabotage when it comes to launching a project or being creative, you might not identify with all of them, but I think they all are going to play into each other and they're all connected in many ways, so it will be useful to go through them all. The first one is perfectionism. This is something that I personally don't suffer from. I'm the opposite. I just chuck anything out there which comes with its own issues. But perfectionism really is about redoing things to the point of really feeling quite hard on yourself, that you're not ever going to be perfect and something is never going to be right and it's never going to be finished and it's never going to be good enough to send out to the world. The other one is procrastination, which is a way of always putting something off, similar in many ways to perfectionism. But procrastination really is you will do anything to put off getting started, put off finishing something, or put off sending out into the world or sending it to someone who you want feedback from. It's a way of really not ever owning up to the fact that you have an underlying issue of why you're not getting stuff done, why you're not doing it. But it's easier just to clean the house, organize your sock drawer, or put another series of Netflix on. The other one is inner critic, which is really those gremlins on your shoulder who tell you that you're not good enough or to not bother or to not even try because it's already going to be rubbish. It's the feeling of someone in your brain telling you something which is not always true. It's never really true. But sometimes we can listen very loudly to those voices. Again, it's, we want to criticize ourselves to save ourselves and protect ourselves from other people criticizing us first. Another thing I wanted to talk through in this class, it was a fear of self-promotion. This is something that comes up endlessly with people. They might have done the project or they might have created the work or the idea could have actually come into fruition. But then they still sat with it and they're scared of promoting it to the world and feel quite humiliated and embarrassed by the idea of actually telling people what they've worked on. Something that links together all of these lessons and different types of self-sabotage is comparison. That is something that thread through a lot of self-sabotage because it can be one of the very first waves with self-sabotage is comparing ourselves to others. Thinking that they're doing something better than us or just thinking, "no one needs my idea" when it already exists. So that is something to be aware of as we go through each one. When it comes to identifying your patterns, journaling, and writing down how you're feeling can be really useful. Actually, once you've done the work of looking at the landscape of how you feel and when your peak times are in the day or in the week, you can start to really notice the times where self-sabotage is showing up more and the times where it's showing up much less. What this can do is actually help you tune in on these moments, but also ramp up the positives and try and mute some of the negative influences. For me, I've noticed that the mornings have turned into a bit of a sacred time for me. I never used to be a morning person. I'm still not really when I say morning, I don't mean super early, but it's a time where no one has really entered my thoughts yet. I haven't gone on social media yet. I haven't looked at anything on the Internet yet and in many ways my thoughts are still quite neutral. The first exercise really is looking at a day and you can pick any day of the week, but just put it in your diary as the day that you're going to monitor how you're feeling throughout the day. So over 24 hours, you won't be awake for all of those hours, but the hours that you are awake, you can monitor them and write down all of the highs and those moments where you've seen something that really inspires you and it makes you instantly you want to go and start your own project or launch that website or write that book. All of the moments where you're feeling actually this has de-motivated me and made me feel quite flat or quite low, so write those down. For the highs it might be that you spent the morning on your commute and you're listening to a podcast that made you feel really great and that you could go and be in the mood to create something. Lows could be that you actually felt really drained after seeing something online that was actually similar to something that you wanted to do or something that's just making you feel like actually that's a bit of a comparison trigger for me. The second part here really is about once you've identified these highs and these lows during the day is really to do more of the highs and to get rid of some of the lows. For example, with the highs if you have had a really positive morning and you're feeling really great and buzzed up about something, then make sure you carve out the same amount of time in the evening or throughout the day to maybe listen to another one maybe on your lunch break or in the evenings. For the lows it's about muting, it's about unfollowing, it's about essentially just trying to get rid of those things coming up in your day and if you need to, you could always start a separate Instagram account to follow things that only inspire you if there's a little bit of politics there with not being able to completely cut things out, you could always set up another space on the Internet that is totally dedicated to putting you in a good mood so that you are setting yourself up for more success. It's really important, I think, to start off this class and these exercises by cutting out and reflecting on things that are coming into your life every single day. Because we see so many things, thousands and thousands of images every day. So if we can have a look at what we're consuming, we can go on to the next exercises. Next up, we're going to be zooming in on perfectionism and what it is and why we do it. 4. Overcome Perfectionism: One of the first types of self-sabotage that we're going to talk about today is about perfectionism, and what that is essentially is a never-ending competition with yourself. It's not always that you want to be a perfectionist because of other people, but it's really that we just feel like we're never enough and we're always needing to do something more and more, and more, and more to make it better when actually it's probably already good enough. We live in a society where being mediocre or being average has never been celebrated, but actually in many ways, being average is absolutely fine at most things, but we're told that we have to be the best and win a trophy, and have a sticker and be top. It can be very damaging, especially when all we want to do is create something that we quite like. Perfectionism shows up in many ways with writers because it means that they keep writing maybe the same sentence over and over again and they can't quite move on to the next sentence and this can be damaging for so many reasons, but mostly because we never get anything done, there is never a first draft because we can't get past that first paragraph or that first sentence. Really that is just an analogy for many ways that we can be perfectionist but it really does stop the end result happening and it is a big way of self sabotaging the future or the other side of what we're trying to do. For overcoming perfectionism or at least making a start to identify it, there's three steps that you can take. Number 1 is about lowering expectations. So that's about really having a bit more of a low barrier to what you perceive as being perfect or being successful. Really, it's about giving yourself a bit of a pat on the back and celebrating these moments where it might not be perfect but you've given it a go, and something that I have found really useful is really embracing the fact that having a first draft, even if it's terrible, is actually an incredibly useful and huge moment for writing. It's the way of getting your book down, it's a way of having something that you can then make better and it is a first step in really succeeding in your goal of writing. Number 2 is really about realizing that we only really get better when we do things multiple times. It's practice, it's repetition, it's getting things wrong, it's failing and starting again. With perfectionism, whenever we're letting ourselves fail because we're not letting ourselves even finish. The third step is to be brave and to show someone your work when you know it's not quite finished. This is really hard for perfectionists because it's goes against everything you believe too, put anything out there that's not 100 percent polished. But I think this is a really important step in realizing that when you share something that's not quite done, not quite finished, not quite perfect, actually it's a really important part of the process, and you realize that actually people can just be really helpful. It reminds me of quite a few positive outcomes that have happened for me, putting unfinished work out there. I have found that showing a agent, for example like an unfinished proposal, it was a skeleton of an idea, it wasn't perfect, but from there, we really grew our relationship, we kept in touch, she then said, "Go away and flash out a bit more with here's my thoughts." Those interactions where I've been brave enough to just show someone the nuts and the bolts of something that I'm working on, they have always lead to something else in the future which of course I've gone away and done loads of work on and it has reached a point where I'm happy with the output. But these conversations have always started from something very much unfinished. The other way that this has shown up for me is the art of blogging. When I started my blog, it was really an amazing way of doing so many small unfinished pieces of writing. Blogging, I think Noah Efron once said is basically just thinking out loud. When you write in a blog post, you don't have to think those things so much more than the time you wrote them. They're very much in the ether, they don't need to be set in stone, they are just ideas floating around on the Internet, and so many amazing opportunities related to my career has actually come about through people discovering random blog posts. So I think being imperfect can lead to many different things. The other way that this can really help is you're building up your resilience to just putting things out there and not really thinking about it as a big deal. I think the minute you don't put anything out there for ages and you maybe have a break from showing anyone your work, you can fall into that habit of being a perfectionist again. Whereas even with the blogging analogy, you're pressing publish constantly, maybe even every day, every week, you're getting used to the idea of putting your work out there and sharing it. A really good way of doing this in the form of a very simple exercise is to show three people your unfinished work. This can be anything from a book proposal that you've had sitting in a drawer for awhile that you've worked on but it's got to that point where you could just redo it and redo it and redo it or you could push the boat out and actually give it to someone to look at which is scary but really beneficial or it could be a rough cut of a film that you have been making or even like the first episode of a podcast. When we talk about unfinished, of course it doesn't need to be at a level where you're often uncomfortable sending out. I don't think there's any point necessarily of sending like something that you've written on the back of napkin as like a first idea. This is definitely something that you've gone away and really thought about and given a good go at it. But this is really about taking that work at that point, not the point of doing 20 different redrafts on it because that's time potentially wasted before you have got an opinion on it as well. So the first person to show an idea to, and this is the scariest one, is someone in the industry. So this might be someone who works at a different company, it might be someone who works for an agency, it might be someone who maybe is scouting for new ideas or might want to be working with you in a potential collaborative commercial way. This is obviously the scary one and I feel like we should do this one first because it's like ripping off the plaster and just going for it, and this really is showing that you can send out unfinished work that you just want a bit of an opinion on so that you can take it to the next step. Number 2 is sending it to a friend. Even if this is someone that doesn't work in the industry with you, not necessarily someone that is a creative person in this industry, it could be just someone who has a totally different job, totally different frame of mind around these things, but giving you a piece of feedback of whether they just enjoyed it, or whether they as a consumer or as a listener or reader, got something from it and their thoughts are equally as valuable. Third person is to send it to someone who could be a potential collaborator or a peer or a colleague. So this is someone who might be very much on your level, might be working on something very similar themselves and someone that you can reach out to you as part of the community and ask for their friendly advice on what you're working on. When it comes to even writing the e-mail, that might be something quite difficult for someone who is a perfectionist because they probably would write the e-mail and then put the e-mail in their drafts and not send it because they're not sure if it's perfect. Write the e-mail and proofread it, but you'll have to send it quite quickly. This exercise really isn't all about people replying to you and these magical opportunities coming about, it's proving to yourself that you are able to share unfinished work that you know needs more work but you're taking the steps to putting out there into the world. I also think this exercise is really useful because sometimes when we send the e-mail and we send the attachment, weirdly we start seeing it in a different way and we can notice the errors or the things that we wanted to change. I know many journalists who after sending out their article to their editor, they suddenly notice things that they want to change. So actually this just by sending out into the world can be super useful at you having another perspective on your own work as well. When I was thinking about this exercise and trying to really put myself in the shoes of someone who might be feeling this way, I was thinking about something that I have probably been working on in secret for awhile, and I'm petrified at anyone looking at it, but actually I do want feedback on it. I am interested in what people think of it and for me that was writing very much in my own personal time as a bit of a side hustle or a hobby, pieces of poetry which I probably would never share publicly, but it's something that would terrify me to send to other people. I'm actually going to do this exercise later in the week and write the e-mail, attach the work I've been working on even though it's unfinished and send out. So I hope you found that exercise useful. We would love to see your feedback, your learnings, what your experience was of doing this in the discussion board and for me I would definitely be in there telling you about how the poetry e-mail went down. Next up, we will be discussing procrastination. 5. Beat Procrastination: This lesson is all about procrastination, and we've all been there when we want to be doing this one thing. We think about it all the time. It's haunting us and hanging over our head. We wake up in the morning thinking about it, but we find any excuse to do anything other than the one thing we want to be doing. We can all relate to that feeling of just putting it off and rearranging everything in our house and not getting around to it. But when we think about procrastination, what we're really talking about, again, is fear and being afraid of getting started. This topic of procrastination, it doesn't always have to be around something huge and big and a one big career-defining moment, it can be really small moments in life where we're just sabotaging ever so slightly our day to day success and happiness. So for me, one example is, I have a folder in my e-mails where I put things to reply to. Maybe I'll get a long e-mail from someone and I think of that so nice, I can't wait to sit down with a coffee and really properly reply this person, and give it all the time it needs because I just really want to reply. But what happens is I put it into the folder, and then I never reply to it. I want to give it time, so therefore I give it no time. I see this happening quite a lot in my day to day. So this is something that I've tried to do, is when I'm feeling overwhelmed in the moment, instead of trying to carve out time to do it properly, I just do it then, then and there in the moment, and it would only take a few minutes. The first thing that's good to do is to break the task up into bite-size pieces. Sometimes we imagine the end goal, we imagine all the work it's going to take to get there, and we imagine this huge thing on our to-do list when really we need to start so incredibly small so that we get going, and so that we can beat that procrastination of just completely pushing something to one side. This is why I'm personally quite a big fan of the side hustle. I know that this has been discussed now for so long and it's become a bit of a buzz word. But at the end of the day, all it means is starting something very small on the side and it's risk-free, because you can start it, you can plant that very first seed and you can just see where it goes. This isn't about quitting your job and launching a new business, because that is just such a huge thing for our brains to compute. But what we can do is start on the side, make those first tiny steps, and then we've already tricked ourselves into starting. When it comes to procrastination, sometimes we never get around to doing it because no one really knows that it's something that we want to be doing. It's very easy to just carry on with your job, carry on just getting paid, doing what you do, because actually that's just the way the society keeps us doing what we're meant to be doing, which is just working. But when it comes to working on a side project that you really want to start doing, that's something that society never really encourages you to do, you have to encourage yourself to do that, and it's very much coming from a personal place. With this one, it's very much about telling people you're working on it. Some people find this very daunting because they just want to keep it to themselves and keep it private. But the minute that you tell people; friends, family, colleagues that you're doing something, they will keep reminding you. They would say, "How's that book proposal going?" Or, "Have you finished the first cut of that film? Can't wait to see it." Every time someone says something like that, it can annoy you because it's reminding you that you're procrastinating, but at the end of the day, these little nudges along the way can be super useful. One thing that's really useful to do with procrastination is basically do the most overwhelming thing first because you're telling your brain that actually the worst of it is being done already, and obviously you will go back and you will maybe change what you've done. But for example, I've wanted to write a novel as the cliche goes, the most overwhelming thing was to write the opening chapter, the opening paragraph even. But it was just getting started and ripping off that plaster of, "Okay, I've actually got this thing going." The other way a lot of novelists go around that is they'll write the ending because that is the worst bit and they've already done a first draft of it. It could change and it could completely mold into something else, but it's just telling yourself, "Do you know what? I've done a really bad scary bit of this process already, so everything else will seem slightly easier." I had actually read somewhere in a book that the author would trick herself into just saying, "I'm going to write a really short, really bad book." It just got you going, and it meant that you could actually just sit there and you've said to yourself, "I'm going to write short book and it's going to be bad." So your expectations are very low. You know what the goal is, and the goal isn't anything huge. What happens is, you'll write that short bad book, and then you have a first draft, and then you have officially completed level 1 of getting that done. For this exercise, we're going to be breaking things down into very bite-size chunks. This is useful for anyone that feels overwhelmed with something that they've got on their plate, but they don't know quite how to go about it or make it seem smaller than it is. The first thing to do is to do the thing that overwhelms you the most. For example, if you're wanting to launch a new website, it might be that actually picking what platform you want to use is the most overwhelming because you feel there's endless choice out there. This is actually something that comes back quite a lot with self-sabotage, is we live in a society now where we have so many options. We can be a million different things, we can have different jobs, we can use different apps, we can order different food, we can watch endless movies on Netflix. Sometimes, procrastination comes about when we just feel paralyzed by choice and we just don't know what the best route is. If you can get that most overwhelming thing out of the way, everything else can seem slightly easier. The second thing to do here is to write down all of your fears and all of your worries and just get them down. Because sometimes when we physically write down some of our anxieties around something, we can notice that they feel may be slightly, not over the top, but a bit alien to us because actually they can seem quite humorous. Our worries sometimes in our head can make sense when we write them down. They look a little bit out of place, and we can see them and think that's actually not going to happen and it's fine. For example, if you're working on the website, it might be that one of your fears is that it's not going to look as good as you want it to. Maybe you don't have the budget to really invest in it just yet, because you need to maybe hire someone to help you, or design a logo, or make it look visually amazing. But you need to not think of all that scary stuff with the end goal just yet and just get started, because having the website up and just simple is better than putting it off for another five years. When you're thinking about something that on your to-do list looks really overwhelming, the best thing is to really think, "What is the most simplest version of this?" I read a book once by Tim Ferriss. In it, he had said that he almost tricks himself to think, "What if this was easy?" When he takes the task, it's actually probably quite overwhelming. He actually just says, "What if this was easy and what if I pretend this is easy?" So with the website, it might be that you really strip it back. You use one of the most easiest templates, and you just really start with something that's making you feel like it's an easy task, because then, you've started, you've got going, and you can start layering slightly more complicated things on top, but you've already got started, which is the main thing. The next lesson will be all about silencing your inner critic. 6. Silence Your Inner Critic: This lesson is about another way that we self-sabotage, which is by talking negatively to ourselves. So we say negative things to ourselves because we feel like if we say them first, they weren't hurt as much when someone else might say them. So if we say that we've had at writing or will never be successful in that area, it's a way of really protecting ourselves against any criticism or feedback, or it could be that we're triggered from childhood memories of maybe a teacher saying that we weren't very good at something. It's a way of getting there first, and the following thing that carries on from that negative self-talk. Sometimes we can go and seek out confirmation that we are right, and our negative self-talk has a point. We might go looking for negative comments, we might look through, I don't know, tweets about maybe an article we wrote or look at the comment section on websites, which is never a good thing to do. But we can go basic hunting out for proof that our self-sabotage is correct, when in fact, it's not helpful at all. With quieting the voice of self-sabotaging your own thoughts around your work. Number 1, is to talk to yourself as you would a friend. So write down what you would say to a friend if they were having the exact same worrying thoughts as you. I'm sure you would come up with so many different ways of telling them advice or giving them practical tips or even just listening, and I think sometimes we have to practice that on ourselves and be really compassionate, and really understand that these thoughts are true, but they're coming from a place of fear, which is a real thing. The second part of this lesson really, is to imagine yourself as your younger self. So someone who might be very young and being created for the first time, or even your younger self for maybe five years ago when he or she was just still learning and giving things a shot. This lesson really is about looking at yourself through the eyes of being younger and being someone that actually needs a lot of support, and if you imagine yourself as your younger self, you wouldn't necessarily speak badly to them, you wouldn't be negative about them trying, you would just think, that's amazing, you gave a go and you put yourself out there, that's so cool. The other thing you can do to encourage more positive thoughts, and actually practice saying more positive things about yourself to yourself, about your work, is to go and ask friends and family and people who you know think you're fantastic, to basically tell you what they think of you and actually write it down so that you have something to refer to. Sometimes I actually find it useful to have a folder in my e-mails called Nice Things, or something like that, and you actually drop in any positive praise, positive feedback into that, and if you're ever feeling negative about yourself, you can have a little look and remind yourself of real positive feedback that you've had through your work. This exercise is really about looking from a different perspective, that some of the thoughts that you have maybe day-to-day, and actually unpicking where they might come from. I'm going to for this exercise, just write down some of the bigger, more overwhelming thoughts I might have before starting something or maybe posting about it, or sending out someone. Number 1 would be everyone will think it's terrible. First of all, I can look at that and think, who is everyone? It's pretty unlikely that absolutely everyone will think what you're doing is terrible. There is a market now for anything and everyone, and we can really see this playing through in something like the podcast industry, because there are so many out there, and there are so many very strange ones, that are quite niche topics that maybe won't resonate with the mainstream or a mass crowd, but there are definitely pockets of the Internet and communities that we'll talk about something that maybe not everyone is interested in. When you write down something like this, it's extremely unlikely that you will find at least a few people who will resonate with your work. Another way to look at these negative thoughts and try and turn them around, is to imagine that you are saying them to a younger version of yourself. So for example, one thing might be that the thing that you've made or the idea that you have isn't good enough when I guess, you're saying that the person isn't good enough. If you were imagining your younger self saying that, you would definitely try and build them up. You would say, you can do another draft, you can make this better, you are definitely worthy of this project, you are good enough. The fact that you're even trying means that you are already good enough. The other thing that this exercise can sometimes do is when you write it down, it can sound quite ridiculous in the nicest possible way, and sometimes that can be really freeing because you can write down a thought, and actually you can look at it and you can think that is totally not the case, and it just sounds totally over the top. One thing that it reminds me of is a friend of mine who had a book that came out a few years ago, and she said that she kept having dreams and thoughts, that basically, the book was so terrible and so awful that absolutely everyone and the publisher would lose their jobs because of how awful this book was. It actually went on to be really an incredible bestseller, and it went so well, and the loads of people loved it. But even just our idea of someone thinking that can solve sound quite ridiculous, are loud. Everyone will shun me. A really crucial part of this exercise is reading it out loud. Sometimes it is even quite soothing to read out like negative comments if someone has ever made them about you, I personally find that quite fun to do. You're retraining yourself to think of things in a different light and not taking them seriously because you're not giving them as much weight because they didn't deserve it. So with these three points, I'm going to read them out, and when I say them, I think we'll agree that they don't sound true. So number 1, everyone will think it's terrible, number 2, it's not good enough, and three, everyone will shun me. Try and say them in a way that makes them sound ridiculous, because they are, don't give them any weight, try and push against them. At the end of this exercise, really what you want to do is rip up what you've written down, put it to one side, say that you're not going to think like that anymore, and totally get that out of your head, because I think re-reading negative things can sometimes make us believe they're true. So this exercise is really about getting them down, getting them out, saying them out loud, and then deciding that you're not going to do it anymore, and so drawing a line under it. So that was really fun, and I really recommend doing that, because now they don't exist, any of those negative things. So the next lesson is all about facing your fear of self-promotion. 7. Embrace Self-Promotion: This last lesson is all about combating the fear of self-promotion. This is something that comes up so much in the creative industry, people feeling like they have the work finished, and done and they're proud of it but they're not quite sure how to communicate that in a self-promotion way. Historically, we have always been taught that to be more like-able, it means not self-promoting and never really telling anyone what we're doing because in a social dynamic, if you're telling people about all the cool stuff you're working on, people can find that maybe unlikeable, when really self-promotion is a really fundamental part of being a creative because if no one knows you exist and no one can see your work, you're less likely to get more of the same work. One of the fears that we have is that it will be humiliating. People will be talking about us behind our back. They'll think that we're too big for our boots and we are showing off essentially and bragging. Not everyone is actually looking that closely at what you're working on. In fact, there is some research out there that says that people spend more time refreshing their own social media page than they do on other peoples. I personally find that quite a freeing thing to know because it means that not everyone is scrutinizing every move as closely as you might be on yourself. The first step to overcoming the fear of self-promotion is to practice doing it in a way that feels totally comfortable to you. One way that I do it, and I've learned how to do it in a way that doesn't feel icky or braggy is to say it in the same tone of voice as you would to your best friend in the pub. So it might be an Instagram caption and you might be putting it on the Internet, but say it in the way that you would tell a close friend or family what you've been working on because the way that you say it to them will never seem like you're trying to prove a point or show off or anything like that. It's more that you want to tell someone because you're proud of the project you've just done. That tone of voice that I personally use when I'm telling someone or even self-promoting online, is coming from a place of genuinely feeling like I've felt so proud and lucky and I've really enjoyed this project. It's something that I've been working towards for a few months, and it's almost like you're inviting other people in to say, "Well done, that's really cool." Another tip to take on board if you're really still pretty petrified of trying to self-promote yourself is to watch how other people do it and actually learn from them. There are so many people who I follow online, who I so enjoy following. I love hearing about what they're working on. They self-promote in a way that feels totally natural and enjoyable to follow. You could always pick someone who you admire in that way and do a bit of a cross-promotion. This is something that people have been doing for years. Lots of people do it on YouTube channels or podcasts, and they do a swap. Essentially what it is, is promoting each other's work and taking that pressure off of it all coming from you and actually using a community or a network to promote each other's work. The third tip is really realizing that this isn't an ego move but it's actually a business move. So it's not just about you wanting validation, or credit, or likes, or comments, which is obviously a human thing to want anyway. But it's more about this is actually a business strategy. If you don't share what you've been working on, then the people following you, who might be colleagues or might be industry people, won't actually see what you've been doing. It's about being strategic and actually realizing that it's part of your business to self-promote. Another thing to remember is that self-promoting something isn't about necessarily getting that massive reach or reaching millions of people or getting so many eyeballs on it, it really is a case of starting small and it can be a case of just reaching a few people. You don't have to put the pressure on yourself to go viral with your self-promotion especially in the first instances. For this exercise, I'm tasking you with promoting yourself in the project gallery. Tell us what you've been working on, tell us why we should check it out, and practice writing it in the tone of voice to a friend, to a family member. Be proud of what you've worked on. It doesn't always need to be work-related or business-related, it can be anything. If you're working on a hobby or a side project, or you're even working for a charity or you're volunteering, or you have signed up for a marathon, whatever it is, don't be afraid of putting yourself out there and asking for help because most of the time people really want to hear your news. Go ahead and share your work in the project gallery. Can't wait to see it and get practicing with that self-promotion. 8. Final Thoughts: Congratulations. You've made it to the end of the class. Well done for taking this one because it's quite a brave one to dig into, I think. My hope is that you might return to this class whenever you need a little bit of a pep talk and a reminder that you're not alone, that you can do it, and that it's totally normal to sometimes try and sabotage ourselves in all of these different ways. Self-sabotage, as I've said before, is very much based in fear and fear is totally normal. So it's just about working with fear in a way where it's not completely taking over and running the show. I hope that you're feeling a little bit more confident, a little bit more empowered, that you want to take a little bit more control over some of the things that you're working on and please do share your experiences, your thoughts, your lessons, your own learnings in the project gallery, we can't wait to hear from you and thank you for taking this class.