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Doubting and Creating

“I really have that worry that I’ll wake up in the morning and think, ‘Oh God. I’m such a fraud, and they’ll find me out.’ I doubt myself a lot.”

Those are comments by one of my favorite actors, Emily Blunt, who interestingly continued, “And maybe that’s a good thing, because I think it would be limiting to have discovered my whole bag of tricks by now. Hopefully I will always be afraid of being a fraud, because then you never stop trying.”

That is from a magazine interview about her movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” which also quotes one of her co-stars Stanley Tucci: “Yeah, if you consider yourself a fraud, then no one else will. I believe that. It’s people who don’t consider themselves frauds who are the biggest frauds… I’m actually looking at a book on my dresser, and the title is ‘Doubt.’

“I think doubt is an incredibly healthy thing. You just have to know its limitations and not let it stop you from doing something fully or executing something with authority.”

[From Interview mag., May 2007.]

The book Tucci mentions may be the one I list at the bottom.

The star of the movie, Meryl Streep has made similar admissions: “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing.. You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent… Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing.”

From my post ‘I’m a Fraud’: Gifted and talented with insecurity.

In his classic book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, psychologist and researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi includes discussions of characteristics of creative people, including “Humble and proud, both painfully self-doubting and wildly self-confident.”

Read about more traits in my post The Complexity of the Creative Personality.

So even people with exceptional talents can feel insecure, experience low or unhealthy self-esteem and confidence. And many creative people struggle with doubt versus assurance or faith.

Balancing Act

In his post The War Between Faith and Doubt, Dennis Palumbo, a former screenwriter, now psychotherapist and mystery author, writes that this is not so much a war but a balancing act.

He notes that in working with his actor, writer and director clients, “it sometimes seems as though little twin entities — one named Faith, the other Doubt — sit on their shoulders, whispering their respective messages, like those winged imps in the cartoons.

“Which can be a real problem. Because what gives these cartoon scenarios their curious power, what makes them so compelling, is the illusion of moral clarity they provide. The animated image of these imps is of two competing forces, of which one must inevitably win out. And, of course, one is represented as unequivocally better than the other.”

But it may not be so conveniently polarized, he says.

“With anyone struggling to grow and maintain a Hollywood career, it’s frequently the same. We all want Faith to win out over Doubt. We want Faith whispering constantly in our ear — inspiring us, encouraging us, instilling hope. And make no mistake, these are blandishments every creative artist needs. It’s too daunting a task otherwise.

“The mistake, I think, is to strive to banish Doubt, to see it as the enemy. Because, just as courage has no meaning without fear, faith has no meaning without doubt.

“They’re the yin and yang of all aspiration.”

Palumbo concludes, “As creative types, we naturally long to sequester our doubts and fears, to disavow pain and worry.

“Unfortunately, to vanquish doubt is to leave the domain of the human being. Conversely, to embrace both one’s doubt and faith, one’s fear and courage, is to relate to the totality of the human experience.”

In her post The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. reviews the book The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt, by Russ Harris, and notes “A shaky self-confidence or relentless self-doubt stops many people from pursuing their passions.”

She says the book provides “techniques to help readers build up their confidence. These tools and tips are based in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Developed by psychologist Steven Hayes, ACT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy…”

Related posts of mine include:

Feeling Like A Fraud

Managing Creative Anxiety: Change Your Thinking


Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson, by Jennifer Michael Hecht.

Mastering Creative Anxiety, by Eric Maisel, PhD – who warns “Only a small percentage of creative people work as often or as deeply as, by all rights, they might be expected to work. What stops them? Anxiety or some face of anxiety like doubt, worry, or fear. Anxiety is the great silencer of the creative person.” [From my post Creating and Fear.]


Doubting and Creating

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2012). Doubting and Creating. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 May 2012
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