Battling Resistance

Since I took yesterday off, I told myself I would sit down to write first thing this morning.  Before getting to my desk, though, I did the following:

  • Cleaned up the dirty dishes in the kitchen
  • Got a load of laundry started
  • Set my kids clothes out for the day
  • Made the beds
  • Scrolled through Facebook
  • Ate breakfast
  • Drank two cups of coffee, slowly
  • Put my daughter’s hair up in a ponytail
  • Went through the hall closet sorting shoes to give away or toss
  • Had my kids try on their winter boots to see if they still fit

In other words, many tasks took precedent over my daily goal to sit down and write.

During yesterday’s readathon, I finally got to Stephen Pressfield’s book, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, which has been on my list to read for a while.  For me, the most helpful part of Pressfield’s book was his characterization of Resistance—that which keeps us from creating, growing, learning and evolving as human beings.

Two of the most intriguing points Pressfield made about Resistance were:

  • “Rationalization is Resistance’s spin doctor. Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn’t do our work.”  (See my list above.)  “What’s particularly insidious about the rationalizations that Resistance presents to us is that a lot of them are true.”  (The majority of tasks on my list above needed to get done.)  But, Pressfield insists, we can do what needs to be done and do our work.  Resistance just does a good job of convincing us that everything on our to-do list is more important than our creative work and therefore must come first.
  • Pressfield introduced me to the Principle of Priority, which states: “a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and b) you must do what is important first.” What’s important, Pressfield wants us to hear, is the work—the daily, creative work to which we are called that makes us and the world better.  “That’s the game we have to suit up for every day,” Pressfield writes, “that’s the field on which we need to leave everything we’ve got.”

I also appreciated Pressfield’s description of what Resistance feels like.  As a writer, he wakes up “with a gnawing sensation of dissatisfaction.  Already, I feel fear.  Already, the loved ones around me are starting to fade.  I interact.  I’m present.  But I’m not.  I am aware of Resistance.  I feel it in my guts.  I afford it the utmost respect, because I know it can defeat me on any given day as easily as the need for a drink can overcome an alcoholic.”

This daily battle with Resistance resonates because it has beaten me so many times, allowing me to excuse myself from my writing.  Pressfield’s clear characterization of Resistance is helpful, then, in discerning what the enemy looks and feels like, as well as the weapons Resistance uses against us.  Resistance keeps us from being the creators we were always meant to be.

 

The Way I Share My Soul with the World

mza_7403266694935537377.170x170-75Today is International Podcast Day—another one of those random “days” that I would not have known about had it not been for Twitter. Generally, #podcastday would not have mattered to me had I not wanted to blog about a new podcast I recently discovered. I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons whenever I can. Through these podcasts she coaches women on developing their creativity and interviews a variety of successful artists. In Episode 12 of this podcast she interviews Brene Brown and they have this exchange:

Gilbert: What does creativity mean to you?

Brown: If you’d asked me five years ago what creativity means to me, I would have said, Ha. That’s cute. That’s fun. I don’t really do a lot of A-R-T because I’ve got a J-O-B. So you go grab your paintbrush and your scrapbooking, but I’ve got to get shit done.  But if you would ask me now, though, I would say that creativity is the way I share my soul with the world and without it I am not okay.

I resonated with the journey Brene Brown’s statement reflects. For so many years of my life I simply did not have time to nurture my creativity because I had to get shit done. Things changed for me, though, when I was trying to decide whether or not to begin my work with my writing coach, Christine Hemp. I heard myself saying to Christine over the phone, everything’s better when I am writing. This was when it clicked for me. I had to do this creative work. I had to make writing a priority in my life. It wasn’t selfish. It wasn’t just for me. It was bigger than me.

In the podcast, Brown and Gilbert go on to discuss all the shame associated with creativity. Brown said that 85% of the men and women she interviewed for her research on shame remember an event in school that was so shaming it changed how they thought of themselves for the rest of their lives. Tragically, 50% of the 85% had shame wounds around creativity. They had been told they couldn’t sing, looked stupid dancing, or “Read your essay, don’t quit your day job.”  Brown called these “art scars.”

Acknowledging what I know—that I am a better person, mother, spouse, pastor when I give my creativity room to dance—helps me ward off this shame. I am intentional now about making room for it in my life. I schedule it into my work calendar. I make an appointment with my writing. And the rest of the day benefits from that time of soul work.

So if you need a little creative inspiration. Check out Gilbert’s podcast and start nurturing your soul.