Empty Threads: Self-Doubt and Arrogance in Art

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I’m writing but only in the sense that words are standing next to one another in a line across the screen.

They mock me with their blankness. I knock them over backwards.

I construct another little wall of letter-soldier-figures, punching them into place and they march, left to right, single file as I’ve instructed.

But they won’t speak on my command; empty words have nothing to say.

What could I possibly have to say that would matter anyway (my dark-matter mind would like to know)? Maybe nothing. Maybe that’s why I can feel an emerging sense of tension in my whole being, like a rope being stretched so tight it’s fraying.

Pulling from the right: ‘You rock, keep going!’ – – pulling from the left: ‘You are the biggest fool, knock it off.’

It doesn’t matter our level of talent or accomplishment or failure or prowess, whatever your art, whatever your practice, whatever your craft, at some point self-doubt will creep in.

The only way past him is serious determination.

“Confidence is a static state. Determination is active. Determination allows for doubt and for humility — both of which are critical in the world today. There is so much that we don’t know, and so much that we know we don’t know. To be overly confident or without doubt seems silly to me. Determination, on the other hand, is a commitment to win, a commitment to fight the good fight.”

– Anna Deavere Smith, Letters to a Young Artist (source)

Try as I might to tune in, I can sense I’m not vibing with the Thing, the Muse, the Energy. And the straining pressure-thread growing in my mind tightens – like a gristly, spindly rope twisted and pulled so taught it could slice your skin. Thought by self-defeating thought, one by one, the million tiny fibers begin to split.

In an effort to try to stop the frazzling of my sanity, I take my sorry self into meditation. Writing is a spiritual offering for me and if I can’t get aligned with my inner Guide, I can’t create anything meaningful.

Me: Help me, Love, I’m freaked. I have nothing to give, I can’t get there. I’m worried my stuff is no good and people will reject me.

Love: Don’t be so arrogant.

Me: . . . wait, what the . . . ?

Love: Don’t be so arrogant. You have so much to learn. Get your humble on.

Me: Ok, ok I got you.

When we are paralyzed by the fears of ‘not good enough’ and of ‘what if this doesn’t work’ we tend to think it’s because we are being humble or realistic or modest. That somehow to be humble is to hold back the hope of our light. So the stuff we could offer in love gets pulled inward and hidden.

But holding back our love is arrogance. It’s putting our ego first instead of love first. It’s giving our ego the power to keep us small instead of love the power to make us grand.

” . . . your function here is to be the light of the world . . . it is only the arrogance of the ego that induces you to regard yourself as unworthy of the task assigned to you by God.”

– A Course In Miracles

Humility is to create out of genuine love – for ourselves and others. In humility we stop worrying about where we rank or if we’ll be accepted. Serving up our art humbly means trusting that we have a light that needs to shine and all we need to do is let it.

Words – both spoken and penned – have energy. Everything we take the time to create has energy: the energy of love or the energy of fear; the energy of service or the energy of separation.

It matters where the words come from.

The things we tell ourselves in our minds are like a million thought-threads weaving into form what we offer the world. Some threads make up the pattern of our Eternal Mind, they are spun of the stuff of our divine fabric and cannot be undone or destroyed. We know these silken threads because they are all that remain after the nonsense is cleared away. These are the threads of peace, joy, inspiration, generosity and love.

The other threads, though, are the ones we spin of our own egoistic fears – the brittle spindles of arrogance, attack and self-doubt. We spend too much time – much too much time, dear ones – churning out threads like these. The world encourages us to do this by ranking and stacking us, propping up the illusion of competitions and comparisons, causing us to spin out the ropes that bind our precious gifts.

But just as we can always free ourselves by remembering our divine pattern, we can also become alert for the ways in which we tie ourselves up with fear. We can recognize the threads of ego by how they feel forming inside, wrapping rough around our minds and hearts and stomachs as we try desperately to understand, to get past them, to know ourselves, to create.

To get back into alignment.



Just before this post was written I could feel the final fiber of that wretched mind-thread snap.

In my arrogance, I had thought it was the thread that held me together.

In my humility, I could see it was the thread that held me back.


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25 thoughts on “Empty Threads: Self-Doubt and Arrogance in Art

  1. Erika

    Wonderful post again, Allison! We block ourselves in so many ways with thoughts that are of no use but only cause us struggles and frustration. It is a phenomenon that we bother ourselves with destruction although it is simply not true. That is when the flow of our creativity gets stuck. Instead of switching the direction we stay with our false beliefs and make it harder and harder. As you quote the course in miracles “it is only the arrogance of the ego that induces you to regard yourself as unworthy of the task assigned to you by God” But actually we are light.

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Thank you so much, beautiful, talented, spirited Erika!

      I love your words, they are so very raw and truthful. Some writing slides out almost effortlessly but sometimes we get in the grips of those mind games. I am hopeful that anyone who has ever felt this way – or feels this way now – about their art sees this post (and your awesome comment!) and it gives them the strength to keep going.

      I saw a quote the other day and thought it was so cool, ready: “Surprise your doubts with action.” Don’t you just love?! ;)

      Blessings and light, dear soul sister. Always.

  2. Brad

    Lovely description Allison of the wandering through the dark halls of the writing life, trying to find the flow of thoughts connected to love. We keep weaving, hopefully learning to create more stories of love that bind us together in peace and joy. Blessings, Brad

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Hello, hello Brad,

      Thank you so much, my talented friend. I know you can totally relate – no one who is a beautiful writer has smooth sailing all the time. I like how you call it the ‘dark halls’ – some of them are. But we wouldn’t trade it for the world, would we? The wandering, the weaving, the mystery, the discovery. It’s all about love.

      Thank you for your glow, beautiful soul.

      Namaste. ;)

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dear Ilyas,

      That means the absolute world to me, my good friend, thank you so. And you inspire me, too.

      Thank you for being here and for your beautiful light. ;)

  3. cheybeing

    Oh Allison. I love the journey you just took me on. It is one I needed to take. I keep being called into action and I shrivel away, thinking that I am not good enough, I can not do this. It takes me a moment. I regroup and choose not to go down that road. I’ve spent a lifetime on that road. I decide to jump with both feet, I think if it’s wrong or I screw up, it’s ok. It’s ok and I give myself permission to fail if that be so! But I never really thought about those devilish little thoughts in this way before. It was enlightening and I thank you for that. :) Much love.

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Beautiful friend,

      I am so glad you came along – it’s not an easy path sometimes, is it. I know. I’ve got you in my heart. “Jump in with both feet” – love it!

      Haha, those devilish little thoughts – they are punks, right. They think they are protecting us, maybe, from putting ourselves out there where we might get hurt.

      But we are so much stronger than that and we can step out in love and dare to rock the light. Look how much we totally inspire each other. Worth the risk, dear friend.

      You are so stellar. Thank you for your gorgeous glowing presence in my world, soul sister. ;)

  4. Rajagopal

    Thanks for walking me through gems of wisdom, you cutely dimple-chinned, creatively aligned soul, arraying love-inspired word-soldiers, purveying wisdom bytes… On a less fancier note, I agree with emphasis on dedication over confidence and inclusive love, fostering uninhibited performance, vis-a-vis restrictive ego…warm hugs Allison…

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Hello, hello gorgeous Raj,

      And thank YOU so for being here and bringing your kind spirit to this space. I am so grateful for it, my friend. I love this: ‘arraying love-inspired word-soldiers, purveying wisdom bytes’ – that is so radical. You have officially made my day! ;)

      I am so glad this one resonated for you. That’s the best.

      Warm hugs back, and so much light, my dear. Always.

  5. Lydia

    Dear Al,
    Such a thoughtful post. You dug deep and ferreted out the reasons for the self-doubt that has plagued me for a while. I love your posts because they often address topics that are relevant to real people. I feel blessed to be among your readers and it is to our benefit that you overcame your self-doubt to speak ever more confidently.

    Blessings, love and peace to you dear friend, Lydia

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dearest Lydia,

      First of all: I LOVE that you just called me Al. That is so sweet – some of my closest family and friends call me ‘Al’ and it’s so cool that you did. You are, of course, so dear to me!

      I’m thrilled this post resonated for you. That is so great especially if it helped you to reach in and uncover and heal something deep within. That’s sacred – that’s not my work alone, that’s The Love coming through right there. It is so groovy when that happens and I am humbled by it. Fierce, girl – thank you for being open to it.

      My writing is my connection to you guys – I’d do anything to make sure it comes through to serve. It means the world to me to know in some small way it helps your light to shine a little brighter. ;)

      Thank you for your gorgeous and guiding light, soul sister.

      Sending you a big old cyber-bear-hug, love and peace abundant. XO

  6. Michael

    Loved this, Allison! Some days lately it has taken hours to squeeze out a single paragraph, but one well-placed word, or stroke of paint, or swoosh of clay, may just be the one to uncork the surrendering heart. There is a passage in A Course of Love where Jesus talks about the fact that what we give– or create– is for everyone. I really resonate with that, and I think that sentiment shines through your writing here, as well as your comments. Thank you for another inspiring post!

    Much Love

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      My dear friend,

      I am so very, very glad to know this one resonated for you. How gorgeous is this: “to uncork the surrendering heart” – just absolutely perfect and beautiful. And I love your words about creating for everyone, that rings true for me as well. Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m with you, man.

      It is such a blessing to be able to share with creative rock stars such as yourself. ;) Thank you sincerely for your heartfelt words and thoughts. I always feel warmer when you come around.

      Sending so much love and light your way, dear Michael.



  7. Liesl Garner | Love.Sparks.Art

    Isn’t this the oldest struggle in the world? I was just thinking of these things last night – the struggle of small vs. wanting to be big, wanting to get noticed, wanting the accolades that come with getting your work into the right place. The struggle is real. We don’t want to be vain, but we certainly don’t want to be talking to ourselves either. Writing is a solitary thing, but it wants an audience. It wants to become conversation, not monologue. Inside of us is this hunger to connect, and that means promoting ourselves, which is hard, which sounds like ego, and then we want to be small again. Ugh! This is what begins to feel like madness, until we find a way to get small, and cozy, and hug tight a golden thread inside us that brings us straight to the heart of our words and our why and our way out. You are so beautiful. Thank you for giving voice to the thing we all experience. Thank you! I am such a grateful new member of your Tribe!

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      It really must be THE oldest, my friend. You nailed it: the struggle IS real. The quest to balance the creation of something deeply personal, intimate and honest with how to promote it, share it, let it go to spark with others. It is hard – props to you for saying that. And the delicious irony, I think, is that we wouldn’t want it to be easy, right.

      We are the goofiest of beautiful monsters. ;)

      THIS: “hug tight a golden thread inside” – so fierce, so beautiful. You have a decadent way with words, my friend. I am so grateful for your presence and light!

      Rock. The Hell. On. Love. Your energy is lightening.

  8. ahling2001

    Love the truth in this. Wish I could reblog but can’t find how on your site. Let me know as I would love to do so.

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Thank you so much, that means the world to me. :)

      Since my site is self hosted the way to reblog is to copy and then link to my site.

      I can’t thank you enough for sharing!

      Blessings and light, always,


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