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Articles to Inspire Your Personal Growth and Success

Hi I'm Emily Maguire

I'm a UK career coach and business coach for individuals in the creative and entertainment industries and passionate about helping people achieve their career goals. I'm also a top voice on LinkedIn for the Film Industry and a podcast producer and host.

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Emily Maguire UK Career Coach and Business Coach for the arts, creative and entertainment industry

9 Tips for Creatives to Increase Positive Thinking and Build Self-Confidence

Updated: 2 days ago

Discover how creative professionals can embrace mindfulness in their daily lives and unlock the power of positive thinking by learning to challenge negative thoughts.

Build Self-Confidence - Open doorway leading to an empty room

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

Creatives tend to encounter rejection more than any other industry because, as a creative, you are constantly putting yourself and your creative work out there to the judgement of others to secure employment.

Handling rejection can be challenging, especially when you're passionate about your work. In this self-help article, I share how easily those in the creative industries can integrate mindfulness into their daily lives to help empower them to present the best possible version of themselves at work and in life.

2. Nutrition and Mental Health

Eating fresh, non-processed meals in today's expensive economy can be challenging, especially if you have a big family and/or work long hours. However, it's essential to consider your diet when seeking to achieve a balanced lifestyle and a healthy mind. What we eat not only affects our physical performance but there is also strong evidence that what we eat contributes to our overall mental health and well-being.

Simple things to do include swapping your sweet, sugary lunchtime snacks for fruit. You’ll still get that sugar hit, but it will be longer-lasting and sustaining. You can also find some practical tips on what to eat and drink from Mind. You should eat a wide range of foods to ensure you're getting a balanced, healthy diet.

3. Order versus Disorder - A Creative Space

Take a moment and consider how organised and tidy you are, for example, in your home, your car, and your workspace. The chaos around us can lead to a messy mind. Sometimes, we put things off rather than having to deal with them, but the more chaotic our environment becomes, so does our peace of mind.

What about that pile of unopened, unanswered mail or the numerous emails you still have to respond to? Creating a to-do list makes you feel pretty good as you gradually tick things off and see the list getting smaller. My recommended life hack is to split the list into categories.

If you end up only ticking off work tasks, your motivation will quickly plummet. Again, it's important to keep balance, so choose a mix of 3-4 categories that resonate for you; for example, work tasks, hobbies, parenting, and relationships are all potential categories that take time and work. Once you've chosen your categories, prioritise these into urgent and non-urgent. It helps to number them from 1 to 7, with 1 being super urgent.

You can have a weekly or daily to-list; I find it works best as a weekly, and clearly laid out tasks for your week should improve your time management and motivate you to finish them. I always reward myself with a little treat once I've entirely signed off a category.

It’s amazing how starting small can make big changes in our overall well-being. One of the prolific coaches, John Wooden, ’s favourite maxims was: “Acquire peace of mind by making an effort to become the best of which you are capable.” Creating balance around us allows for a clearer sense of self.

4. 360 Feedback

To help increase your sense of well-being and self-worth, you can carry out a quick and easy task called 360 Feedback. It's used predominantly in business coaching but can be easily adapted and applied to creatives.

Approach close friends and family and ask them to text you one thing they think is fantastic about you as a person on the inside and outside. When I say outside, this isn't just about looks; it's also about what you do for others.

The comments you receive from this 360 Feedback task may surprise you and contain things you hadn't previously considered about yourself; this helps you to look at yourself more objectively, and the 360 comments can help build your self-confidence, which in turn helps you with your creative performance.

Collecting these comments as texts is an excellent way to keep them with you. Read them daily to remind yourself that even if you are not matching the speed of your peers, it is nothing about you fundamentally as an individual. Remember that we all grow and move through life at our own pace.

I'm growing and going at my own pace

5. How to Handle Receiving Criticism

When done correctly, criticism should be constructive, clear, and direct and help the individual grow rather than be about putting them down. Criticism should always be constructive; otherwise, how can change occur?

But if someone criticises you, stay confident and calm. Ask why they have given negative feedback and ask them to elaborate. Tell them how it makes you feel; we all need our self-awareness to be kept in check. They may surprise you and be grateful to you for pointing out how they need to communicate differently and be more constructive with their feedback.

By confidently and proactively questioning people, you help yourself and them to become better communicators.

Buddhists believe in cause and effect, and the actual word Buddha means ‘one who has become enlightened'.

‘It is only by going through the negativity of a situation that we are motivated to learn and grow’ – Buddha.

6. NLP and Thought Processes

I'm including a quick explanation of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), as it will help you fully understand tip seven and how affirmations work.

Broken down, NLP means:

  • Neuro: A person's thought process,

  • Linguistics: A person's language structure,

  • Programming: looking at patterns in a person's actions so they may learn to control them more.

So, NLP focuses on a person's thoughts, words and actions. It's about learning the language of the brain; thoughts affect who we are and how we feel, which in turn controls how we react to a situation. Through NLP, you can relearn new ways to communicate and process your thoughts to become active with your actions instead of being reactive.

7. Affirmations and Positive Thinking

Okay, so now let's explore how those 360 feedback comments you received earlier can now be used to create your affirmations. Affirmations should ideally be said every morning at the start of each new day.

Using those 360 comments, we will now create some short statement affirmations. On a piece of paper, start the sentence, I am, I can, or I will, followed by one of the feedback comments. Depending on how long the comment is, you may need to shorten and summarise it and ensure you write each statement in the present tense.

Then, every morning in front of a mirror, say the affirmations out loud; in doing so, you're helping to retrain your negative thinking processes to become more positive.

So, if I constantly tell myself, 'I am useless and always make the wrong choices', my affirmation would be, 'I am capable, I am wise, and I trust my instincts'.

If you think negatively about who you are, challenge yourself. Thinking "I am useless" will only make you feel more unempowered.

Retraining our brains and learning to think differently about ourselves can enable us to feel and interact differently with the world around us. Positive actions will have positive reactions from those around us and help increase our energy and productivity.

Remember that challenging ourselves is not just about physical challenges. It's about challenging our preconceptions of others and ourselves.

8. Meditation and Mindfulness

Sometimes, we can be so busy taking care of others and listening to the noise of life that we often forget that we need attention, too.

Find somewhere quiet to sit, breathe, and listen to your inner voice. For me, this means 20 minutes of yoga, but for you, it could be reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath—anything that helps you switch off and allows the world and your responsibilities to ebb away slowly.

Meditation is excellent for balancing emotions and increasing creativity. It can also help you make grounded decisions as you connect more with your inner self. Meditation doesn't have to be full-on; it can be as simple as introducing a 10-minute breathing ritual before starting the day.

I've included some short warmup breathing techniques below to help reduce the stress on your throat, neck and shoulders.

Exercise 1

With your eyes closed, scan your body and become aware of how you sit or stand. Find your centre of gravity, shake out your neck and shoulders, and notice how a slight shift in posture affects your overall well-being and helps you feel more centred and relaxed. Increasing your self-awareness and adjusting your sitting position will help you breathe easier and improve your vocal performance.

Exercise 2

Close your eyes, place one hand on your stomach and one on your back, and then breathe in a really deep breath. Hold it for as long as you possibly can—the longer, the better—and then release, and with it, release all your tension and negative energy. Imagine you are the big bad wolf blowing the house down; let go of all that stress or nervous energy.

9. Mindful Journal Writing

Writing is a great way to find your centre and become more present in the moment; think of it as akin to keeping a diary.

Write about the things you have experienced throughout the day. For example, how a particular food tastes and the memories it brings to mind, or how you feel as Autumn approaches and the trees change colour and the happy memories it evokes from your childhood.

Writing and focusing on the day's events will help you stay focused in the present and become less distracted by irrelevant things around you.

  • If passing thoughts creep in, acknowledge and accept them and allow them to pass.

  • Don't seek perfection when writing; allow your thoughts to flow and unfold as needed.

  • Make drawings and sketches of what you see and feel, and add colours.

  • Make sure to schedule a set time each day for writing. I find it helps to write at the end of the day, as this helps me focus my mind and prepare for sleep.

Inner Voice

Overall, remember that nurturing ourselves is as important as nurturing others. Be patient and kind to yourself and others, and remember that asking for help is not a weakness; it's a strength.

We often fight against the ebb and flow of life without listening to what life is trying to tell us. When something isn't working out, take a moment and consider why it's happening. Instead of forcing something to work, learn to trust your inner voice and instinct and grow from the experience.

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