“Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” – Steven Pressfield, Do The Work
What do you think? Do you think you avoid the big stuff that is closest to your heart and dreams? I know I do! As I do more and more to bring my wishes into reality I get closer to the really big wishes, and the resistance is fierce!
So how to work over, under, alongside or around resistance (aka fear of failure aka fear of success aka procrastination)?
Two things: dial up the fun, dial down the fear.
Or as I like to think about it: dial up the love.
What might that look like for me?
Dial up the fun: switch to a material that is new and I can explore (using gouache? swap to inks), create some parameters that limit my options and get my creative juices flowing (try using and designing a limited colour palette? Create a vintage feel where each face is from the 1930’s), connect the doing with something else I also like (paint while listening to audio books? a new album?).
Dial down the fear: give myself permission to make ‘bad art’ (release any thoughts of ‘good’, try making grotesque faces like gargoyles, do some very very quick pieces that are allowed to be awkward and ugly), pick my environment so that I feel safe and happy while working (painting while other people are around, sitting in the sunshine outside, sitting at the dining table with daily life scattered around me rather than at my drawing desk), do a series just for me and my journal and not intended to share with anyone (later I can change my mind about that if I want to, once they are done, but shhhhh don’t tell my resistance that).
Another way to dial down the fear is to rethink the part that is actually scaring me – the idea of exhibiting them.
To do that I might:
- Think creatively about my goal and what else might give me the same feeling of satisfaction with less stress – for example create a virtual, ‘online’ exhibition rather than a face to face one for example, approach a cafe as an exhibition space rather than a gallery
- Phone a friend – this might be to work with a mentor or coach about it, or organise a group show with a friend, ask someone else to help me pick a venue, ask for help / ideas/ etc from friends and networks, connect with a purpose bigger than myself – raising awareness about an issue maybe, or donate sales to charity
- Do the smallest step – some ideas here are forgetting the end point for now and just setting the goal of exploring 5 new galleries to see how they work and what the space is like, or just go and cost some frames and have fun looking at how I could mount them
- Voice the fear – acknowledge and name the fear for myself, and comfort myself about it using kind language, journal about it, talk to loved ones about it. (Oh yeah also – blog about it!? lol)
What I will not be doing:
- Shame myself – I will honour my fear. I will not shame myself into feeling like a failure because I’m feeling scared.
- Belittle myself – I wont buy into someone else’s story of what is ‘easy’ and therefore diminishes or downplays how I feel (I can do lots of other supposedly big brave clever things but it just so happens I’m terrified of going into a gallery and asking about hiring a wall).
- Bully myself into action – It’s important to me that I don’t force or push or boss myself into doing it despite my feelings. I know that invalidates the part of me that needs reassurance and support, and creates a relationship of ignoring my feelings and treating myself harshly.
Basically the challenge for me is to NOT ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ because that response is actually very familiar to me. Rather my challenge is to feel the fear and love myself anyway. Feel the fear and ask myself ‘what would make this safer? Kinder? Easier? More fun?’ and then wait patiently until the right combination of supportive actions feels safe and I burst forward with energy again.
How about you? How do you work around, under, over and with your resistance when faced with something scary, new or close to your heart?