Are You Hiding Out?
Last spring, 16 brave creatives came together at LifeArt Studio to proclaim they had an idea, and they wanted to create something. They were asking for support and encouragement with projects that heretofore were not being well tended— a book of poems, a memoir, a collection of paintings, a blog, a photo essay, a foundational practices plan, a website, and more. And now, here we are, almost at the end of our creative journey together, having cried, complained, worried, avoided, laughed, encouraged, praised, and worked really, really hard. But of course, the "creating" is just getting started, and the journey is not over.
So last week, I gave the participants some final thoughts, and I’d like to share them with those of you who also want to be held accountable.
First: Taking on a creative project is a big, bold, brave, and scary thing to do. So kudos to you all! Brava! Brava! Please be aware of the progress you have made, and be grateful for the clarity that has emerged around what yet wants to be created. There’s time. As Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, “The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.” Remember this! Give your work time and space and lots of love.
Second: At each session we discuss how a creative project forces us to think about where we are in life and what we really want to say about our experience. But we’ve also noticed how the things we say we want for ourselves are the very things we have a hard time creating for ourselves. It's maddening. So we also address the obstacles we construct to avoid the hard work of creating. The best you can do is be honest about these obstacles, knowing that, for the most part, you have created them yourself. The world didn’t design them specifically to foil your desire to be an artist. Be vigilant so you catch those obstacles when they arise. And be patient with yourself as you attempt to disarm obstacles entrenched in your conditioning.
Third: Work hard to see the places where you are hiding out. Ask yourself, “What do I avoid doing or saying that keeps me from facing who I am and what I am here to create.
In our monthly accountability sessions, we've seen the ways we all “hide out.” We're so clever at it. We avoid, we procrastinate, we judge, we analyze, we medicate, we postpone, we get busy, we take on other commitments! Oh the ways are endless, aren't they? And that’s what therapy, coaching, and self-study (svadyaya) is all about—ferreting out the places we hide out and keep ourselves from creating what we have the potential to create.
I am using the Greek word eudaimonia a lot lately. It can be translated in a variety of ways, but essentially it means "being in a state of realizing your full potential." And that’s what an accountability group is all about—helping us figure out what we are capable of doing, feeling, expressing, offering to the world.
So the question that a good coach poses to her clients is this: What keeps you from approaching your full potential?
The most common answer? “I’m afraid I won’t measure up.”
Yep, that’s it. We fear we won’t be good enough. “No one will like what I do, or pay me for what I do, or even notice what I do.” And as one of my clients said recently, “I’m afraid I’m going to do all this work and nothing will come of it.”
We are amazingly skilled at coming up with reasons that we won’t measure up. And we hold on to those reasons with a herculean grip.
But I’m here to tell you that you are up to it. You will measure up. You DO measure up. Already! Proof of that “measuring up” is the deep satisfaction you feel when you express (shape, construct, create) an idea that came uniquely out of you. There is no amount of money or adulation that can take the place of that kind of satisfaction. Saying what is inside of you to be said is the best reward. And no one is keeping track of the magnitude of that expression. Its value has to be held precious in your own heart. This is what we call courage, from cor, the Latin word for heart.
And so. . .I take pleasure in telling you how thrilled I have been to witness your courage.
As the accountability groups come to the end of their six-month commitment, I have asked them to consider a few questions that might guide them into the next six months of creating.
- Do you feel complete about the work you've done?
- Will you continue to work on your project?
- What kind of support will be most helpful to you as you continue with your creative life?
- Where are you being dishonest with yourself?
- And where are you failing to honor yourself?
- How can you strengthen the habits of mind that allow you to create at your best?
- Where are you most proud of yourself?
- And are you willing to show your work in some small way?
I hope these questions are helpful to you as you think about undertaking something big, bold, brave, and scary. And if you are ready to commit to a creative project, and if you, too, would like to participate in an accountability group, please contact me. New groups will begin in October 2016 and run through May 2017.
“Be bold! And mighty warriors will come to your aid.”