I spent my weekend indulging in some serious self-care through creative expression practice. Friday night I dusted off my art supplies and did some watercolor painting with a friend. On Saturday I created a Christmas centerpiece for my dinner table.
This was the first time I watercolor painted in nearly a year and it’s been even longer since I have done a flower arrangement. Because of this, I had a lot of self-defeating thoughts like “I don’t know if I can do this” “What if I mess this up?” “Is this okay?”
This process was intensified because not only had it been a year since I’ve painted but it was also the first time that I was painting without my art teacher there to guide me. I was filled with anxiety and worry. Even the simple process of drawing took me over an hour simply because I was so worried about everything being “just right”.
Many of us experience this all the time when we are creating anything. Whether it be writing a paper for school, doing yoga, or writing a song we experience this inner resistance that has this hidden underlying message of “you are not good enough”.
Steven Pressfield discusses this resistance in great detail in his book “The War of Art”. In this book, Pressfield shares the many ways that resistance manifests in our lives. Rather than create what our hearts’ truly desire, we allow our inner resistance to take over. We can experience this resistance by turning to things like procrastination, watching TV, drinking and drugs, sex, medications, the limiting beliefs of our culture, and so on.
We turn to these various things in our outer world in order to, basically, avoid creating and doing what we truly want because, deep down, we feel unworthy and incapable.
Resistance can be a very difficult thing to overcome and there is certainly no “one time” solution. Though we may not want to hear it, conquering resistance is a life-long process. No matter how many degrees, certifications, and credentials you have there is always going to be something within you coming up and saying “that’s not good enough”.
So how can we begin to overcome this inner resistance of ours so that we allow ourselves to create so we can experience fulfillment and happiness?
Create something every day.
Many of us have ideas or goals of things that we would like to do or create but the trouble is that many of these ideas are long term. It’s something like “Well, once I do X, Y, Z then I’d like to do this”. By making such long-term goals it doesn’t help to satisfy you in the present. In fact, it may actually cause you more stress and dissatisfaction because you have to wait to get there.
So come up with some easy activities that you can do for yourself today. It may be in line with your bigger long term goal or it may not, but do something!
Recognize how your resistance manifests itself.
Do you procrastinate? Do you turn on the TV rather than write your book? Do you study or read more than write your own ideas? Do you spend more time shopping or drinking rather than doing something that you really truly enjoy? Notice what your inner resistance is like and write it down in a journal. Then try to make a conscious effort in your day to day life to catch yourself when you feel inclined to resist creating.
Set a specific time frame to create.
Whatever it is that you want to do – write, paint, knit, decorate, or prepare to put together a project – set a specific time frame to work on that activity. Cur yourself off from any possible distractions, set a timer and then work on the activity or project without stopping. Having a specific time set can be very effective in making sure that you get done what you really want to get done.
Focus more on what you’re gaining from the process and less on the mess ups.
Because we are so inclined to resistance, we tend to focus more on our little mess ups and less on how great it is for us to be creating to begin with. Sure, it’s good to critique so that you can become better, but be patient and easy yourself. If it’s something you can edit, then take your time reflecting on it and make sure it “feels” right to you. If not, then appreciate what you’ve gained from the activity and focus on the next thing.
Know that you are worthy.
We are all worthy. We are all capable. Like Marianne Williamson said, “It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most”. Focus on allowing that light to emerge. The more you do that, then the happier and more fulfilled you will be.
Start Overcoming Your Inner Resistance!
How do you stop yourself from creating or doing something that you really want to do? What are some of your resistance habits? Do you just go watch TV or go shopping? Share your thoughts and experiences below!