A superhero doing a pose and looking in the mirror to believe in her abilities.

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What’s your destiny? Are you holding onto things that are holding you back? Are you failing to embrace the things that will move you forward?

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron argues that belief is a cornerstone in maximizing your creative potential and achieving your artistic destiny. She shares three tips that can help you believe in your abilities and potential: trust the process, embrace and detach, and nourish yourself.

Continue reading to get the details of her advice.

How to Believe in Your Abilities

According to Cameron, you should believe in your abilities and your potential. Also, you should hold a conviction that you’re deserving of your dreams and desires, the universe is conspiring in your favor, and the universe will provide what you need when you need it.

According to Cameron, fostering this sense of belief is important for a few reasons. First, belief deepens your connection to the creative force, which naturally increases your creativity. Second, belief gives you the confidence to take strides toward your goals. And, finally—because taking strides toward your goals will result in synchronicities—the universe will reflect your efforts by providing opportunities that propel you toward your artistic destiny. 

(Shortform note: In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck reiterates the importance of developing this all-encompassing sense of belief and refers to it as having “grace.” He adds that there are three core obstacles to grace that you must understand before you can achieve it. The first obstacle is laziness: choosing the easiest solution rather than putting the extra effort into determining the right solution. The second obstacle is evil: using force to tear down others to avoid your own spiritual evolution. The third obstacle is the suffering of awareness: avoiding awareness of the full range of decisions and consequences available because it’s overwhelming or painful.)

Cameron gives a few tips to foster belief.

Tip #1: Trust the Process

Cameron explains that impatience and fear of uncertainty often lead people to prematurely pursue half-baked ideas or half-hearted projects. She elaborates that truly great ideas take time to gestate—if you force them into fruition prematurely, you’ll sabotage their potential. As such, you must trust yourself and the universe—when it’s time to execute on an idea, you’ll know. Take things step by step, and follow your intuition.

(Shortform note: Cameron’s advice to trust the process may be more complicated than it seems because humans have an evolutionary tendency to avoid uncertainty wherever possible. Experts provide a few actionable tips that will help you overcome this evolutionary inclination and follow Cameron’s advice. For example, when you’re worrying about the future, reflect on past successes to reassure yourself. Further, let go of factors that are out of your control and instead target your focus toward things you can control. Finally, follow the advice you would give to a friend in your position.) 

Tip #2: Embrace and Detach

Cameron explains that elements such as money and luck come and go. Attachment to these things leads to dependence and diminishes your sense of belief. Instead, embrace life’s ebbs and flows—be grateful for gains and resilient to losses, and trust that you’ll receive what’s needed when necessary. Don’t make decisions solely based on gaining things like wealth or recognition. Instead, trust your intuition and prioritize personal happiness—for example, accept a lower-paying job or wear an “ugly sweater,” irrespective of others’ perceptions, because they bring you joy.

Embrace and Detach—a Principle of Stoicism

Cameron’s argument is a core component of the Stoic philosophy that Marcus Aurelius describes in Meditations. Aurelius refers to this principle as embracing logos. Logos is a force that ensures that everything happens to serve the greater good. Therefore, embracing logos requires acceptance of all events, even if they cause immediate suffering, because they’re destined to happen. Logos also asserts that chasing temporary gains such as fame and wealth is futile, as they’re transient and meaningless after death. Instead, logos promotes the pursuit of happiness and societal benefit.

Like Cameron, Aurelius frames embracing logos as a form of positive belief. However, he doesn’t cite it as a way to increase creativity. Instead, he explains that it’s a way to build resilience against hardships. 

Tip #3: Nourish Yourself

Cameron explains that self-care is crucial for maintaining a positive mindset, which by default increases your sense of belief. If you feel emotionally neglected, restricted, or ill, or if you aren’t taking care of your physical health, you’ll struggle to maintain a positive outlook. As such, Cameron emphasizes the importance of nourishing yourself. 

Eat well, and take care of your body. Listen to your emotions, and release them. For example, if you’re sad about a missed opportunity, allow yourself to be sad, forgive yourself, and move on. Treat rather than restrict yourself—buy the candle you’ve been eyeing or have a piece of cake once in a while.

(Shortform note: Cameron argues that neglecting your emotions and physical health can cause your mental well-being to deteriorate. Experts agree, adding that your mental well-being can also impact the state of your physical health. For example, those struggling with depression are more likely to experience negative physical effects such as inflammation or abnormal stress hormone levels. So, to achieve a positive mindset and outlook, it’s best to take a two-pronged approach—focus on your physical health and seek help for your mental health if you’re struggling.)

Believe in Your Abilities: 3 Ways to Foster a Sense of Positive Belief

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Artist's Way summary:

  • How you can overcome obstacles and blocks to reach your creative potential
  • An overview of Julia Cameron's 12-week program on accessing the creative force
  • Why many artists fall into addictions and how to resist them

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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