1. Fear – That your’re not good enough, that you will fail, what people will think and say, not wanting to feel vulnerable. Fear of the unknown, outside your life experience, not what you grew up with. Oh, a lot of fear.
2. Conditioning – It’s unrealistic, foolish, fool-hardy, silly, not important, not real life, only a hobby, something for children, if you were younger maybe. Not something real people do, in the real world. Conditioning starts early in life and it is ruthless.
3. More Important Things – The socially acceptable things that give us a feeling of control and of winning at life. Like housework and being a good martyr, I mean, mother.
4. People – From little things like a raised eyebrow a look of surprise or a throwaway comment to ridicule, passive aggression and open opposition. People you thought would be supportive, even interested in your project will do an excellent job of completely ignoring it. There will be surprise supporters too, it will all be surprising. Welcome to life as a person who does things.
5. Procrastination – Even when I really want to do something I still procrastinate. Facebook, housework, text messages, you name it. We all do it. We are notoriously bad at doing the things we really want and enjoy doing. We are truly crazy!
6. You– No matter what you do, even after you’ve written the book or whatever your thing is you will still have to deal with your own self talk and it’s not always kind.
What To Do With The Dreaded Fear
We live in a world that is built on our fear, that depends and thrives on it. When you start to think about the level of fear adults live with it really is shocking. Take me. I’m afraid to put paint on paper. Did you ever hear anything so silly? I find myself thinking it won’t be good enough, it won’t be what I’m feeling inside, I’ll make a mess of it. No matter how much I tell myself that it’s only a sheet of paper, that it’s only cheap paint, that it’s just for fun, that it’s only for me, doesn’t matter because the fear is bigger, it’s been there longer and we’re ruthlessly conditioned to feel it from a very young age.
I don’t believe that fear is natural, I believe it’s learned. My children have no such fear, they just get on with it.
It’s true I’ve managed to get over this particular fear but only on a page by page basis, it still comes up every time. So you can imagine how once you conquer a fear, even a small one, you start to feel empowered.
Our idea of failure too is total nonsense. Failure to me would be if I didn’t face my fears and have a go at things I knew I wanted to do like writing and painting, even driving. Success is facing my fears and finding I can do these things and that they give me a sense of achievement, pleasure and fulfillment.
While we can never be without fear it’s nothing special, we all have it. I’d be embarrassed to let fear stop me doing anything I wanted to do and even some things I don’t want to do that I know I should!
Pesky Norms & Conditioning
I’ve always been a free spirit and rebel. I feel I’ve been fighting conditioning, societal expectations and norms forever. It’s a fight that never ends because it’s against the current. It’s exhausting, but the older I get the more rewarding it gets on a personal level.
In spite of this I’m conditioned enough to think that for me to be painting is silly. Who do I think I am anyway? I’m not an artist! My true, honest self knows that it’s not silly and I insist that she wins, but I have to insist.
So I’m not sure I can say how to handle this one only I think there’s hope. It’s not that many years ago if you went for a walk just for pleasure you would get the raised eyebrow. Single people were considered to have something wrong with them, artists were thought of as crazy and women writers were, at best, ignored. Nice.
What we can do then perhaps is keep striving and doing and being true to ourselves. Countless people have told me I’ve inspired them to take up painting or writing or something else for the first time or again as an adult. It’s inevitable that they in turn will inspire others so maybe if enough of us are on this path we change things. I think that’s how it works. Small changes over a long time. I think that’s the definition of evolution.
But What About the More Important Things?
What’s more important? The children? The children don’t have to suffer for your dreams! That’s an excuse my dear. They’ll suffer a lot more if your’re miserable.
Your job? You can do your job and still do the things you want. I’m afraid that’s also an excuse.
Housework and putting dinner on the table? I love to have a clean tidy house and I love to put dinner on the table, I’m good at it too, well the dinner bit, but it’s hard to translate those things into a reason for living. For me it is anyway.
There is nothing more important than a well rounded you. Doing something you love is a way to know and love yourself, warts and all, to live in the present, to feel accomplished, to have peace, to heal. A person like that can support, love and help other people. You will find any amount of studies to back up the healing and transformative power of seemingly simple things like keeping a diary and listening to music. These things are powerful. We just never knew.
I think it comes down to the fact the only person we can change or improve is ourselves and weirdly, that that too is the only way we really help other people.
“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” Maya Angelou
Procrastination We Know You Well
We all do it. I find it helps to make a schedule and put the things you really want to do on there first. That’s also a good way to keep competing interests from crowding your mind. I also find it helpful to forgive myself the days it doesn’t work out so long as the overall ratio is good. I should still forgive myself but I know myself and I know I’m happiest when I hustle.
So accept it but don’t let it rule, set goals, a daily word count, a daily sketch and frame it in your mind along with things like brushing your teeth. If it’s what you really want to do AND you keep at it long enough it will become that natural. And don’t give up too easily. I heard John Cleese speak about this, about how you have to be willing to sit long enough, your mind flooding with other things and still insist on being there, on writing. Eventually the other things give up.
“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
Here is the most valuable thing I learned, that you will absolutely need to cultivate to get you through a major project like writing a book. You have to build a wall of positivity around you. The world is full of energy vampires, toxic and just plain dead inside people. They will kill you if you let them.
If your’re naturally empathetic or intuitive, sensitive and open person they will trod all over you until you can’t write a word. They want your energy and their energy is paralyzing. You really have to watch this and you have to build your defenses and build them HIGH.
First and most important remember this is, it’s NOT about you, it’s about them and whatever issues they are dealing with. They are on their path, god help them, and you are on yours. REFUSE to be pushed off your path.
But lets say they strayed on to your path a little and now you feel drained?
That’s when you visit your positive wall. Mine was made of letters and photographs, bits and bobs with special meaning for me, positive, supportive friends, quotes and stories of writers and great thinkers of history, seriously. I would google something like ‘quotes about writing process‘ and just dive in, let those great minds soothe me. Or I would go to a site like Brain Pickings and read a ton of their articles. In other words I would align myself with thinkers and doers and supporters. That’s the best thing you can do, think higher, aim higher. If possible you should also just cut them off, the vampires.
Aside from that I could always go to my mind palace, that idea always makes me smile 🙂 Lets just say I’ve learned how to detach, I can be in attack mode, for writing, or detach mode, in bad company. Because I’m being true to myself I can be more confident that those who aren’t. I can say
‘This is my path, what you do with your path and your life is your affair, but this is mine, it”s true, I wear no mask, I am nothing false, I make no apology.’
Funny how it comes down to you, to me. I’ve come to realise that I am responsible for everything in my life except where I’m born. We were lucky to be born at all. The odds aren’t great you know. And then to be born into a life of privilege compared with most of the world. It’s very lucky.
The things that hold us back are a fantasy, created by man for a questionable society.
The self-talk can be bad, but it’s learned, we can un-learn it. Keep replacing it with greater more positive words. We are not victims or passive drones, we design our own lives. The biggest success would be to drown out the noise and just be ourselves because there’s nothing wrong with us you know.
So we come to the end of another very long blog post. I always mean to make them shorter.
This was me, rambling on, tuning out to tune in, going the course, trusting the process, concerned with only my path, unless I can help yours, living my life, feeling free in an unfree world. I strongly recommend it.
Good luck to all of us, conditions are always impossible but you can do it, if you want to.
Have you read the first chapter of my novel yet? It’s newly edited so check it out HERE 🙂 Have a great weekend 🙂