The Stories We Tell Ourselves

As the guiding principle for what I wanted to express in my artist talk last weekend for the Talking Art speaker series I posed the question, “What are the stories you tell yourself?”.

There are stories we tell ourselves about what we can and cannot do, and these are the things that keep us from reaching our full potential. For the longest time I thought I wasn’t capable of creative work other than photography. When I gave myself permission to step outside of the little box I’d put myself into it’s led me to be good at many things I had wrongly assumed I could never do.

The key for me has been learning by doing. If I want to know how to do something or understand a material or process, then I go figure it out. This means doing hands-on research, reading books, looking at information on the internet, talking with other artists, or taking a workshop. But it’s all centred around exploring with my hands that thing I want to know. Explore, experiment, and learn. Making leads to more making because all of our skills are interconnected.

Paper cutting opened the doors to other process for me because it refined my fine motor skills. For years I’d told myself the story that I couldn’t draw, but paper cutting helped me relearn the ability. I’ve always wanted to learn needle work and embroidery, and told myself the story that it was beyond me. But here I am finally learning those things I’ve long wanted to know and creating beautiful work in the process.

We are all capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe. It’s up to us to change the story we tell ourselves. Maybe the time has come to tell yourself a new one.