Just before I intend to start a new creative project, I begin to notice how much I need to do the dishes, vacuum, file my nails, redecorate the house, call my mother, catch up on all my e-mails, and plan dinner. Every time! It doesn’t matter that I know this; I still do it. Everybody does. You are not alone in your procrastination. Why do we do this? I believe we put off these creative play times, work times, and fun times because we know, deep inside, that it will change us in some way. When we face a blank page, canvas, or closed book, we do not know what will rise up inside of ourselves, and most of us find that a little scary. The fear of nothing rising up to meet us scares us too—it may even be unconscious; it doesn’t matter. Even though I now know how amazing and transformative it will be once I start, there is still a part of me that is afraid of what I might reveal to myself, or that what I produce might not be good enough.
Guess what? It won’t ever be good enough as long as you believe you are not enough. As long as you believe you are not enough, no thing or no one will ever be enough either. All you need right now is to understand that the following exercises are not about the product. They are about the process, your process. They are about how you feel while you are doing them. And later, when you step back and look at the results for the very first time, it will be about the relationship you enter into with both the process and the result, and how you relate to them over time.
The next time you notice yourself booking a dentist appointment instead of gathering images for your collage, writing in your journal, or taking a long, hot bubble bath, stop and ask yourself, very kindly and very gently, “What is this?” Most likely, it is you putting off the very thing that you want most. So be gentle and be firm. It takes courage to start and it takes courage to change. This is your time to be seen and heard.
Be warned, your inner critic, judge, commentator will pop up and try to stop you. Letting go of perfectionism and getting more playful can begin by using these practices and creative exercises to help unleash that creative spirit of yours that is bursting to get out and be known to you!
The idea of playing has sometimes put the fear of God in me. Play? What’s that? I don’t have time to play. But remember, it is playing, not performing. Just loosen up all your ideas of how you think it’s supposed to look, and see what happens.
Just for Today
Starting any new relationship can be daunting, especially one with ourselves. It’s often temping to slip into habitual, negative self-talk, which, after all, only serves the purpose of keeping you stuck. “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if I am no good?” “What if I am not creative?” Heads up, folks: almost every single person I have worked with has announced to me, off the bat, that they are not creative, including myself. So what if “just for today,” you could suspend the negative self-talk and try something else instead?
A few years back, while struggling to write Third Time Lucky, I put together the “Just for Today” principles. They have become a guide for my day-to-day life. Since then, I have shared them with countless others, who have found them to be helpful companions on their journeys.
Noticing a habit, thought, or feeling doesn’t always require us to analyze it, figure it out, or judge it. Whenever my inner critic intrudes, I use one, some, or all of these principles (depending on how loud the negative self-talk is) to keep me grounded in the moment and to help me remember it’s only my critic talking—it’s not me! The following “Just for Today” principles can accompany you on your journey too.
Just for Today . . .
I am breathing in warmth and kindness toward myself
I am excessively gentle with myself
I am greeting my reflection with a softened gaze
I am giving myself permission to make beautiful mistakes
I am my own compassionate witness
Prefacing each affirmation with “just for today” brings it right into the now, and that is where our power is. “Just for today” is manageable and possible; very often “always” and “forever” are not. I suggest you write them down on postcards and put them places you will see them, to remind yourself to silence the negative self-talk. My “Just for Today” cards have been taped to my bathroom mirror, desk, and refrigerator over the years, and there is one by my side as I write this now.
Next blog we can take a deeper look into them! The above is an excerpt from the afterword of Third Time Lucky: A Creative Recovery, and a part of the sequel, Your Creative Recovery Workbook, due out next year!
Tomorrow is a full moon and lunar eclipse so it is a great time to DREAM BIG and set your intentions into motion. Good luck and have fun!
I'd love to know how you get on with the principles. What's your intention this full moon?
Sending Loving Vibes.....Pasha x