Lately, there have been moments when I question my own value. I’m not doing it on purpose but it just kind of arises on its own from who knows where and it’s a very painful feeling to wrangle with.
It may be triggered by a fear of being seen, really seen. If I’m about to share something new or take a risk, these loud voices come up and tell me terrible things about myself. It’s as if every time I have a new project, someone calls these unwanted voices and says “Hey, Anne really needs you to come mess with her.”
One good thing about these voices is that they put me back into a familiar seat (the one from which I learned everything I know now :)), of facing all the fears that arise when I’m making things to share with others. Is it of value for me to be reacquainted with them because I teach about working with creative resistance? Maybe, but it’s not fun.
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that “a lotus grows in the mud” and I know that the things that stop me can be the very things that give me the tools to move forward. So in that spirit, I’m sharing my 3 most common creative fears/resistances (a.k.a. excuses) and their respective antidotes. See if you can relate to any of them.
Excuse #1: I Don’t Want To “Go There”
Recently, one of my children was really sick to the point of being in the hospital for the second time in 2 years and after it was all over (she’s fine now), I had the thought that I’d really like to write a song for her, so she’ll know one day how much I loved her in this moment, what she was like, what I noticed about her. But then BAM, No, I didn’t want to! I’d do anything to avoid writing it including washing dishes, visiting Facebook. Why? Maybe it’s because I didn’t want to feel my feelings. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t think I could ever do her justice. Maybe I was afraid I’d end up minimizing my love for her and that’s the LAST thing I wanted to do.
So what did I do? I talked to these objections to find out what they had to say. Then, I came up with a plan that I’d just speak the things I’d noticed about her into my phone recorder (to be revisited another day). No pressure. No forced “lyric-writing.” I honored my impulse to write her a song by finding a way to work with my resistance instead of trying to dominate it.
Antidote: Find compassionate work-arounds. Don’t write or make something if you don’t feel like it. Ask yourself: What would I like better? What am I afraid to experience? Whatever would make you feel better. Do THAT.
Excuse #2: I Don’t Know How combined with It Has To Be Perfect
I wanted to make a beautiful tree mosaic on my office wall. I imagined this gorgeous multi-colored tree majestically decorating the corner for over a year. I would put a heart on the trunk! I would put pillows at the foot of it to create a reading corner!
The only problem was that I didn’t know how. Should I do it myself? Should I hire a mosaic artist to make it? Should I make it with my daughter (who said she wanted to help)? These thoughts cycled and in the meantime, I didn’t do anything.
Until the other day when I looked at the corner of my office and wondered why aren’t I giving myself the thing that I really want? Am I waiting for the tree to magically appear?
Suddenly, I was in motion. I didn’t have mosaic tiles in the house, but I did have paint so I got it out of the basement, put down some garbage bags and 20 minutes later, my glorious, imperfect, childlike tree was made manifest!
Of course it’s not perfect but I love it. Maybe in the future I’ll add mosaics, but in the meantime, I have a tree 🙂
Antidote: Try Something, Anything. Let It Be Imperfect. You Can Always Redo It.
Excuse #3: Things Didn’t Go As Planned so I Give Up or the much more sinister Things Didn’t Go As Planned so it’s Not “Meant To Be”
This is the nuclear bomb of excuses. This one gets me every time. It’s wired into me like some religious dogma. This summer I worked a bunch on a new record and I’m really happy with it so far. I did something exciting I’ve NEVER done and worked with one producer totally outside of my genre of music, but not everything went as planned. For example, I wanted the record to be out by now. I wanted to have done a Kickstarter campaign, but the timing didn’t work and then some of the friends I wanted to work with weren’t available when I’d hoped and then I was working on The How The Song Came To Be interview series and so, as of today I have 5 songs in various stages of done but no finished record. So what does that mean? Absolutely nothing. It means the record is unfolding, that I’m having fun on the path and that I’m not always in charge of the timing. Also, it’s a good thing I didn’t finish it already, because I just wrote a new song that I love more than any I’ve written previously. Oh!
Antidote: Don’t take setbacks personally. They may not actually even BE setbacks but just the appearance of them. Think of how many times something not working out according to your initial plan led to something better. Take steps forward and be kind to yourself along the way 🙂
What about you? What are your biggest fears/resistances and the ways you navigate them? What are your antidotes? Please share below!
PS: If you’re a songwriter who longs to have support in navigating your creative resistance and in writing the songs only you can write, the 2018 Soul Songs Luminaries Program is now open for Early Bird Application. To explore if it’s a good fit for you and your songs, apply here. (For further info, read on below!)
What is Soul Songs Luminaries?
Soul Songs Luminaries is a 9-month journey designed to help you (along with a small group of like-minded songwriters) develop your songwriting mastery, uncover your unique artistic genius & bring your soul songs into being.
It’s my favorite journey to take with songwriters because it’s fun, soul-searching, humorous, craft-enhancing, excellence-seeking, trust-inducing, heart-centering and at times, transcendent. And, a lot of songs get written 🙂
During the program, your songwriting will be woven into your weekly routine so when life gets busy, you’ll be able to flow with it, come back, replug into your creative desires and pick up where you left off. Plus, you’ll have the support of the Soul Songs School curriculum (including everything I teach at Berklee College of Music) and a group of songwriters who want you to succeed! 🙂
If you apply before Friday, Dec 22nd at midnight, and are accepted, you’ll receive a complimentary one-on-one 60-minute Soul Songs Songwriting session with me plus 10% off your tuition for the entire program which includes a 4-day songwriting retreat in Breckenridge, Colorado!
So much love to you!