Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Traps of Second Guessing Yourself

Me Ra Koh

I love this photo when I think of second guessing yourself. It often feels like a fog rolling over the mountains. The mountains are the dreams you’re going after. One moment you can see them with such clarity, and the next moment you wonder where they’ve gone. Were they ever there?

Brian and I arrived home during the wee hours of the morning after being in NY the last four days.

We went strong from morning to night on a new Sony Artisans of Imagery project. It was a rich time on several levels. I can’t say enough about how much good Sony is planning for the photography community, whether you are a pro photographer or aspiring.

Before we flew home, we had an AWESOME meeting with the web designers who created Rachel Ray’s website. We brainstormed for a few hours on a number of dynamic ways I could continue to help you grow in your picture taking. I’m so excited to see how this unfolds for all of us!

I find myself in a mode of “going for it”.

But there are traps of second guessing yourself everywhere! This territory is unfamiliar, and my end goals and dreams may seem impossible. But I keep telling myself that the only way to figure any of this out is to just start; roll up my sleeves, pick up the phone, get on a plane and ask as many questions as possible. And then at the end of the day, I get to look at Brian with insecurity in my eyes and say “Did I do okay?” He smiles.

Sometimes I worry if I’m going in the right direction.

Do you ever do that? It’s one of the ultimate traps of second guessing yourself. You think these dreams are what you want, but then you second guess yourself. You accuse yourself of being selfish even.

Brian said something the other day in regards to all this wondering or should I say worrying of mine. He said, “If we find ourselves not feeling good about what we’re doing, how it affects our family, how it affects our daily life, then we can stop. But let’s not stop before we even tried. Who knows, we may like it.”

His words brought a lot of comfort and also impact.

It’s like the truth hit me straight on. The truth is that we so often segway any route to finding our dream b/c we’ve already convinced ourselves of how bad our dreams will be for us and those we love. But if you think about that, isn’t that thought process weird? Doesn’t that seem the opposite of what you believe? Why would we dream of doing things that would hurt ourselves and those we love.

Claudia Black wrote, “Trust in yourself. Your perceptions are often far more accurate than you are willing to believe.”

Could it be that our dreams are whispers, utterances, coming from deep within–trying to call us back–remind us of why we were made, what we were made for, and how incredibly dynamic we are? Could it be?

Each one of us carries dreams. And I would venture to say that each one of us feels like some of our dreams are downright impossible. Can I share a few quotes that fed my soul this week–when I felt like running away from dreams instead of running with them?

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” –Agnes De Mille

“We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it…

into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures…Take a risk a day–one small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you have done it.” –Susan Jeffers

These quotes helped me pat myself on the back instead of put myself down. They help me overcome the traps of second guessing yourself. It’s so easy to take a risk and wonder why you did that? How could you be so silly, you think. That’s why I have to continue to refuel myself with the truth–truth in all sorts of forms. One of my favorite forms is the The Artist’s Way book. (that’s where I found these wonderful quotes)

Is Second Guessing Yourself Part of the Process?

I don’t think there is a way to escape the second guess yourself madness. But I want to share two exercises from the The Artist’s Way with you. If you find yourself resonating with today’s post, consider these exercises. Julia Cameron’s words are italicized, and then I’ve added a few of my own thoughts too.

Exercise #1: Clearing

Throw out or give away five ratty pieces of clothing. (To me this is an exercise in clearing space in your head, your self image, your creative subconscious space. By getting rid of “five ratty pieces of clothing” you are letting go of the past. You are letting go of an image that you carry of yourself that is comfortable but keeping you from growing, risking. Consider what you may find in yourself if a few ratty pieces of clothing were finally gone. I know it’s abstract, but fueling our creative spirit for picture taking isn’t always about holding the camera.)

Exercise #2: Creation

Now that you’ve cleared out some of the old and made room for the new…Bake something (or cook something)…Creativity does not have to always involve capital-A art. Very often, the act of cooking something can help you cook something up in another creative mode. When I am stymied as a writer, I make soups and pies.

To my dearest blog readers (whom I treasure more than words can say–that’s YOU), if you find that you’ve forgot how to dream, I want you to especially try these exercises. If you struggle with second guessing yourself, you’re in good company.

The world is counting on you to keep running after your dreams, even when you’re second guessing yourself. Does your heart need more encouragement, I’ve collected all my favorite Overcoming Fear posts in one spot for you. CLICK HERE.


Me Ra

p.s. I love your feedback on yesterday’s post: Finding the BEST Light in Your Setting! I’m going to reconnect with the kiddos and then try to post some answers/thoughts to your lighting questions over the next couple days. Now to get rid of some old ratty clothes and BAKE something! Hey, if you want, take a picture of the clothes you get rid of and/or what you end up cooking! Send it to me at mera@fioria.us!


  1. Sharon says:

    I’m just going to say thank you.
    If you only knew…

    Now I’m off to toss out some old clothes….

  2. Michelle says:

    This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Thank you thank you thank you. I keep losing track of my dreams and find myself doubting that they will come true, wondering if I can fulfill them. So, THANK YOU!

  3. jeramy says:

    sharon and i are cheering you guys on. we’ve got your back…even from a far. πŸ™‚ great post!

  4. Freida Hall says:

    Oh my… you brought tears to my eyes… this touched my core….off to do a little much needed journaling to work through my own dreams…
    Thank you once again for sharing yourself so freely… it’s appreciated…

  5. Michelle says:

    Seriously..how do you do it?! You seem to write about the things I need to hear at the exact moment I need them. Today is day one of my my “spring” cleaning, get rid of the clutter..the clutter in my house, in my life is taking over my head. I am going to start by going into my closet and getting rid of some of that past. Thank You!
    I love watching this journey that you and Brian are on and have no doubt that what you are doing is going to be so great for so many women (and Jeramy). I remember talking about many of your dreams and big ideas at dinner in Sonoma and it is so cool to watch it happen knowing you will succeed.

  6. abbey says:

    Wow!! Brian!! I first must say Me Ra is so lucky (as are you)….. what words of wisdom!!

    β€œIf we find ourselves not feeling good about what we’re doing, how it affects our family, how it affects our daily life, then we can stop. But let’s not stop before we even tried. Who knows, we may like it.”

    I love it!

    Me Ra… I love your blogs and I love how you are able to empower women to “go for it”! It is amazing for me to hear that you still occasionally have your own doubts and fears. You are amazing. YOu will succeed!

    Now I am cringing thinking about what 5 items to throw out…. a weakness of mine! πŸ™‚

  7. jeramy says:

    @riddle….i love how you always address the blog readers as “women (and jeramy).” πŸ™‚ classic! hilarious! i’m honored! πŸ™‚

  8. Amanda Mays says:

    SO true that you always seem to bring up topics that many of us seem to be dealing with! You have a gift =)

    I have been “cleaning out my closet” for a few months now. While the process is hard and seems like i’m in hibernation at times, it has been tremendous food to my spirit.

    In this time i’ve felt a renewed passion for my original dream but also have found a few others to hold unto and see take flight.

    The renewal/creation period is like tasting the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Exciting, nurturing and at times frustrating but I know that the end result will be full of great rewards.

  9. tracy says:

    Me Ra! To stay on track- and get out of my own way!!- after listening to your podcast interview went out and bought The Artist’s Way!! Just in week 1, but so very grateful for your recommendation!
    Your transparency is an inspiration, particularly in a professional of your calibre! Thank you so much for your honesty…..

  10. jen flake says:

    Can we have an online clothing swap because I think that some of you guys (and by that I mean gals) might have a few things that wouldn’t look so ratty if they were in MY closet! πŸ™‚

    Okay…I have the bake/cook something DOWN because I do it three meals a day….now to get rid of 5 pieces of clothes! I am actually excited about that!

    As for my dreams Me Ra….we could talk about this for a LONG time….my dream for as long as I can remember was to get married and have kids!…well…I am coming up on 9 years of marriage and 7 years of motherhood…I don’t know where MY dreams fit in…or how they fit or what they even ARE!

    …I could go on and on….but I wont!

    Thanks for a great posts! You’re amazing and what you are doing to follow your dreams is like a dream itself! Honestly! You’re working with SONY! WOW!

  11. Me Ra Koh says:

    Wow, what a day. The kids were so excited to have us home, but I think they said “Mama?” fifty times per sixty seconds all day today. Bedtime finally came, and I can feel the quietness of a full day.

    To be able to sit down and read your comments from today’s post…it’s such a gift. I can’t believe how hard it is to let go of 5 pieces of old clothing. I seriously stand there and think, “well, even though I haven’t worn that for two years I still might.” What is that. Good lord!

    Thanks for letting me share my heart here and opening your heart’s back up to me. Have a wonderful night, and be prepared to crack up tomorrow morning as we post the Top Five Titles from our Star Wars Family Portraits. πŸ™‚

  12. I am astonished at how you can speak to my heart time and time again. Without talking to many of us personally, you have an uncanny ability to connect and encourage through the sharing of your fears, hurts and hopes. We love you for that Me Ra. Thank you for being a light and a source of strength to so many…you know a women’s heart so well and have helped many of us find that deeper beauty and creativity within.

    Personally-I have been purging out (the old) in a huge way lately.. (since my parents house fire, many things just don’t hold allot of meaning to me anymore). It has been so freeing not to hold too tightly to the past.

    And so funny you should mention cooking…. I usually don’t like to cook …but lately…I have found such a peace when I do! My morning omelet was for you my dear!

    Cheers! Even took some pics of it!

  13. Tacey says:

    I’m running so fast towards my dreams I think I swallowed a fly along the way!!! I too bought The Artists Way, on my drive home from the Seattle Workshop…Great piece of advise. I think of you both so often…On of my best friends (who is also insanely successful in her own right) always told me what when you are moving in the ‘right’ direction, it will just “feel right”….Not to be confused with thinking it will always be ‘easy’, but it will sit well with the soul…

  14. liza says:

    You nailed it again. How did you know what we’re thinking again? You’re so in-tune with your fellow bloggers. Since, reading your blog I’ve followed by dream of owning my own business. Little did I know that it came in the form of photography. It’s thriving and after only opening shop for i month I’ve had four clients. Not bad, huh?

    Those words are so true. I’ve just cleanse out my entire house getting ready for a big move overseas and it has been liberated. I feel like a new person…lighter. But you just challenged me to clean out even more!

    thank you so much for your encouraging words…

    we love you, too!

  15. Kara Hicks says:

    wow. the last line of your post… “the world is counting on you to keep running after your dreams” – just hit me hard. Thank you for that little nudge.

  16. I have started reading “The Artist’s Way”, thanks to you.
    Frankly, it’s a gift I want to give this holiday to the women in my family, all artistic in different ways…if only they knew half of what they could offer with their gifts.
    There are a few excerpts from the book that I had underlined, and now make me think of you and what’s ahead.

    “…when we move out on faith into the act of creation, the universe is able to advance.”

    “The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.” -Piet Mondrian

    These reminded me of you because In essence, you are simply doing what you are called upon to do, given your talents and gifts. You are a channel…doing God’s work, helping others, helping your family, just by being the artist and teacher that he made you to be.

    And my favorite (so far:))
    “Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.” -The Talmud

    Every blade of grass Me Ra. It’s hard to imagine isn’t it? But there are so many blades of grass that need an angel to grow…and Brian’s words of encouragement have me convinced that he is yours;)

    I am going to give these exercises a try. I was doing so well and then all of our “stuff” arrived lol, wow it’s like a big weight was dropped on me.
    Things, they slow us down (as you know from Thailand). Being here on the island without all of the things…life was so much easier, thoughts were so much clearer, and I didn’t miss any of it! A good purge is always needed to bring new things into your life…tough process, but needed…
    Thanks for this today! Maybe it’ll help me unpack (or toss!) and keep moving forward…

  17. Ariane Hunter says:

    Me Ra, thank you for yet another great post. I started reading the Artist Way upon your recommendation and it really has changed my life. I just finished reading the very chapter you posted about. So I was very encouraged to do the clearing and creative exercise. Thank you for knowing the right words to say at the right time.


  18. Julie says:

    Thanks MeRa and Professor T for the amazing wisdom! It came at the perfect time. Blessings to you guys as you continue putting out such great encouragement to others while on your own journey!

    Trying to make peace with the fact that I can’t sign up for the workshop and learn more about this confidence theme. I really appreciate all you share here on the blog!

  19. amy little says:

    as always i love your inspirational words. i too bought the Artist’s way after the seattle workshop and i love all the quotes in there. i haven’t had a chance to delve in to it properly yet but i’m so excited to do so. and give away 5 pieces of ratty old clothes? uh yes, please! my husband will be thrilled. that combined with baking and i will be one loved woman πŸ™‚

    you’re fabulous as always.


  20. Daena says:

    Today was the first time I came about your blog & your amazing gift of photography.

    This post really helped me to remember the path of my dreams….and where we can take ourself with courage & the innocence of believing.
    I am a student pursuing two majors, one of them is fine art photography- but one day I would like to own my own business of capturing special moments in one’s life.

    Thank You for this … I am a fan of you now! πŸ™‚

  21. Gail says:

    Great quotes Me Ra and I’m checking in to that book now. I REALLY needed to hear this right now! I always think of A League of Their Own where Tom Hanks says, “It’s the hard that makes it great” (or something like that). πŸ™‚ SO TRUE!