It is human to avoid. This trait probably even predates homo sapiens, by about a zillion years. The creatures who stayed in their holes in the ground survived, while the ones who ventured outside were eaten. It ain’t survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the most anxious.
The survival strategy of remaining frozen in your burrow clearly works to a point, but when used willy-nilly, it becomes hard to get anything done. It leads to that old bug-a-boo, procrastination. Freud’s favorite word, neurotic, can be defined as using a survival strategy after its outlived its usefulness. This genetic atavism leads to the number one problem that people present in my psychotherapy office: “I know what I should do – I even know what I wanna do – why don’t I do it?”
This monumental impediment and its fix, especially around creativity, is the subject of Steven Pressfield’s terrific little book, The War of Art.
Pressfield uses another old Freudian word to describe the problem: resistance. This progress-stopper has been called by lots of names: the gremlin, the devil, maleficent, the underminer, the underdog. Like anyone who has encountered the power of the thing that prevents us from writing that novel, inventing that app, working to end sexual abuse, or losing that fifty pounds, Pressfield knows that this is an uncanny force of indomitable strength, that by all appearances has a life of its own.
Pressfield tells us that the first thing we need to do to beat this damn thing is to acknowledge its existence and understand its power. Stay close to your friends, but get closer to your enemies, kind of thing. In pithy, compelling, powerful, and entertaining chapters, Pressfield does as good a job as anyone describing just what this nasty little demon is like. If you want to know what’s getting in your way, you’ll find the answer here.
The author then goes on to give us the solution. It’s also pretty simple: do it anyway. This requires, just in the beginning, feeling fear. Avoidance, or resistance, happens so we don’t feel the fear. Instead, we feel indifference, boredom, tiredness, laziness, or we come up with all kinds of excuses – my toenail itches, it’s too cold outside, my mother wasn’t nice to me – rather than feel the fear that actually doing something involves. So, if you take action, you will be scared. After all, you, in all probability, will screw up and fail. But who cares? It’s not like you are going to get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.
Once you get through that hard part, and you devote yourself to the daily work come hell-or-high-water, then, Pressfield tells us, a miraculous thing happens. Other forces – benevolent forces – come to our aid. The devil has us if we are sitting on the couch with our fingers up our noses. But the minute we just start and practice, something like God comes to visit.
Here, Pressfield is right on. He tells us not to wait for passion or inspiration, because it isn’t there in the beginning. We don’t get it for free. Inspiration is a gift we receive for hard work. It comes long after we begin.
I’ve watched these powers at work over and over again in my own, and others, lives, and I’ve tried to enlighten my clients about this about every way I could think of. But Pressfield lays it out better than I can manage. The only part I don’t like is when he tells people not to go to therapy! Having tried every technique against this formidable foe, I accept that there’s no magic formula to what is gonna hit the magic button for someone.
Just buying the book, and even reading it, is no guarantee of getting the message. When that inner critic is in force, he can even snark out Pressfield’s sage advice. But don’t listen to that cigar chomping skeptic that sits on your left shoulder who tells you that Pressfield doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Pressfield isn’t somebody who found it all easy and just gets to lord it over us mortals with his elephant poop wisdom. It took Pressfield seventeen years to have his inner breakthrough. And when he did, at fifty-two, he finally sold something. He wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance, which was turned into a movie directed by Robert Redford, starring Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron. Now, if that’s not a proof that miracles come to those who just keep doing it, I don’t know what is.
reblogged from www.glennberger.net Dr. Berger is a Dr. Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business coach, artist coach, and young person’s mentor.
We’ve all been there…that notorious, stubborn-as-hell CREATIVE BLOCK. Whether it’s coming up with a new brand design, a new product for your business, or writing content for your event… not all of us are the Steve Jobs’ and Suzanne Evans’ of the world who have grandeur ideas coming out their ears… and constantly! It can be frustrating and challenging to always be “on” and continually have new and fresh ideas coming, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck.
I have four awesome ways to bust down that creative block and get you back to flow with the creativity and ideas for your business and design.
Creative Block Buster #1: Question Everything.
What are you stuck on? Is it a new product you’re trying to get out the door? Or maybe a new branding for a service you’re offering? Whatever it is you have to ask all the questions around it. For example, say you’re creating a new product for your clients, ask yourself: Will this be a digital or physical product? How many nuggets of information do I want to include? Will I cover one specific subject or many? Write it all down. Doing this, no matter what it is you’re creating or designing, will really start to break down that wall and get you out of feeling stuck.
Creative Block Buster #2: Reverse Engineering
Sometimes it’s easier to start with the end product or idea and build out the “how do we do this” parts. We actually did this with Suzanne and Larry Winget’s event, Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Make Money! Suzanne had an awesome idea to “American Idolize” the registration process and we knew what they’d get at the end of the process but we weren’t quite sure how to do it. So, we thought about the end product and started putting the pieces together backwards. It really got us out of the box and helped the ideas flow.
Creative Block Buster #3: Take a Break and GET OUT
I know what you’re thinking…that seems counterproductive? Well it simply isn’t. Sometimes getting out of your “zone” really helps get the creativity and idea brainstorm flowing. Pick a place that you like and really enjoy visiting. It could be a park, or the mall, an art gallery, or even a friend’s house. Go there and then just hang out, take it in, get your mind of work a little, and start looking for things that really inspire you in that space. Trust me, something will watch your eye and Voila! You’ll have solved your creative problem and be back in business!
Creative Block Buster #4: Bounce.
Get out of your head and bounce. Bounce ideas off of someone, it could be a coworker, business partner, friend, or spouse…but whoever it is make sure they support you in your success and that they will be upfront and honest with you in giving feedback. This is a great way for someone to give you a different perspective if you’re stuck. You could be mulling an idea over and over in your mind and not moving forward and all you need it someone to say, “Well, what if you tried this?”
Happy Block Busting!
reblogged from Suzanne Evans