When we create, we come alive; we’re making love to life. We use our unique talents, perception and skills and make the intangible tangible. Most of us generally know what we want in life. For every person, the answer to what brings us joy will be unique. For some it’s playing guitar or dancing. For others it’s writing, hiking, spending time with family, photography, or drawing.
So if we know what makes us feel alive, why do we resist it? Why do we avoid doing what we love to do?
I think there’s a number of reasons that can help us explain this elusive phenomenon. Hopefully in discovering the blocks toward pursuing what is dearest to us, we can overcome them.
So why do we resist?
1. The inability to accept imperfections. Do you think that Mona Lisa was Da Vinci’s first painting? We think, if it’s not perfect, why bother? But when we pursue the creative act, it’s crucial that we suspend judgment. After all, you can always cull the fluff and ridiculous later.
What to do instead? Resist your temptation to have everything figured out before you start. Failure is fundamental to the creative process. If you don’t fail, you’ll never improve. Suspend your judgment and remember that whatever you don’t like, you can always take out or re-do.
2. Not respecting the gestation of improvement. Say you have a passion for dancing. The only problem is, you’d make a blind man cry. Remember that mastery of any art or skill takes time. No one starts out being a natural Michael Jackson. And anyway, look what fame did to him. Are you sure you want that?
What’s a poor Napoleon Dynamite to do? Respect the fact that mastering any skill takes time. Instead of thinking about all the things that aren’t right, think about what you can do now to improve.
3. Not accepting your creative identity. All great artists, poets, musicians and creators, excelled by accepting their artistic identity. The truth is, we are all artists. We’re creating the story of our life in each moment. We’re not just humans living, we’re artists shaping a story. Accepting your identity as an artist is accepting your creative nature.
So how can we gain the confidence to accept out creative identity? The biggest block toward your acceptance of your creative nature is probably due to self-judgment. How can you possibly accept that you are a writer when you haven’t hit the bestseller list? While external affirmations are important, the approval of your heart is equally important. If you feel in your heart that you are born to be an athlete, but don’t have Magic Johnson’s skills, that’s okay. What matters is that you feel deeply in your heart that is what you want. It makes you come alive.
4. We’ve turned our passion into work. Anytime you feel that you must do something, you lose inspiration. You lose your sense of excitement. In our society and in general, we have a clearly separate work and play. “Work hard, play hard!” is a common motto people tell others to make them feel a little better about their drudgery. We don’t have to dread work, it’s a choice. That’s the problem when our passion has also become our work. We tend to think it’s our passion has become something we must do. There’s no fun in that.
What can we do to re-ignite our passion? We need to get our heart back in it. Spend 15 minutes just visualizing what you want to create. Think about how it makes you feel. How does it make your body feel? What excites you about it? Think about all the reasons you wanted to do it in the first place. If you feel the urge to start working on it, hold yourself back until the 15 minutes are over.
This a great tool for realigning yourself and remember the reason you started in the first place. Sometimes our mind tends to overpower the heart. It’s our logical faculty after all right? Using this exercise helps us re-align ourselves.
Lost in Space
The truth is, we’re often the most productive when what we’re doing has absolutely no purpose. We come alive when we’ve lost track of time, doing what we love.
Perhaps its not our weakness, but our greatness that we fear the most.
Jonathan is the author of the blog JonathanMead.com. He writes about finding Authenticity, Clarity and Balance in all aspects of living. His articles include 5 Signs You’ve Married Your Problems (and how to divorce them) and The Cult of Productivity. You can subscribe to his blog here.
Image by Helmet13.