“Creativity takes courage.” ~ Henri Matisse
We are masters at holding ourselves back.
And when it comes to our creative expression, it seems that we are hit with a triple dose of second guessing, Resistance, procrastination, Imposter Syndrome, and paralyzing fear of truly being seen. What if this thing we want to do more than anything else doesn’t turn out well — or worse, flat out fails to connect and resonate? What if we send our tender creations out into the world, and they are met with ridicule or howls of criticism?
These imaginary Doomsday thoughts keep us stuck in ruts of inaction where we feel relatively safe, yet leaden with regret. We distract ourselves with our preferred numbing behavior(s) and continue to tell ourselves that someday — just not today — we will do that thing that calls to our heart like none other.
How can we find the tank of oxygen — the resilience and the confidence — in expressing our creativity?
Ask your subconscious what it fears (losing) if you pursue your creativity. Have a conversation with your subconscious in your journal about these fears. Ask yourself what wants to emerge from you, and what wants to hide (and why)? What is it about what wants to emerge that frightens you? Where does hiding serve you in some odd way, albeit painful and alienating?
I recently did this exercise and found the process and results to be enlightening. This very post you are reading right now has been gathering dust for months — tucked inside a notebook — while I waited for the “right time” to publish it. The irony of not having the courage to publish a blog on creative courage is certainly not lost on me!
Next, how you are protecting the clarity of your vibration/energy? This is your most precious resource, regardless of your chosen activity or desire. Whether you are on a journey toward achieving your goals, building your business, creating thriving relationships, working to develop a healthy and sexy body, or writing your first book, protecting the clarity of your energy is Job One.
And like our mastery in holding ourselves back, we are similarly adept in sabotaging our energy. So, how do we keep our vibration/energy clean and at the highest levels?
I decided to seek wisdom from a woman who has developed not only deep reserves of courage and clarity, but also a mindset and behavior set that keeps her body, mind, and spirit in top form and brimming with energy. We spoke about her courage, decision making, and how adding pleasure to our lives just may be the ultimate leverage you seek for all creative acts — great and small.
Susan Hyatt is a Master Certified Life Coach, author, entrepreneur, speaker, mother, wife, activist, and retreat hostess with fierce passion and energy. She has recently launched Bare Daily, a membership community for women seeking inspiration and guidance on how to live incredibly full lives of health, joy, movement, boundaries, and confidence.
Sd: “How do you define courage?”
SH: “I define courage as having fear and moving forward anyway. I used to think that some people were just naturally brave, and that bravery meant you weren’t afraid of whatever it is that you were doing. I actually find courage to be something that you do despite fear of what might happen – despite fear of repercussion – despite fear of whether or not it’s going to work out. It’s doing the thing that matches your personal values and goals and doing it even when it scares the hell out of you.”
Sd: “So, when you’re in the moment of decision, deciding whether or not to exercise your courage when you are fearful, where does that reserve of going forward anyway come from?”
SH: “Now it comes from leaning on past experiences of having done things that scared the heck out of me and having real world evidence that it worked out. It’s using self coaching to remind myself of all the times I was afraid to do things and, whether it worked out or not, how everything ultimately was okay. But, also, there’s an energetic quality or vibration that happens in my body when I’m scared to do something. It’s almost like a humming in my chest, so my body is speaking to me. When I feel that, I’m like, awwww, man, now I’ve got to do it because I know the energetic quality of something that I’m supposed to do whether or not I’m scared. And I honestly feel that most often with writing. So part of my job is being vocal on my blog, or social media, or my podcast, and there are things I say at times that are unpopular to certain groups of people. There are times when I’m nervous about hitting the post button, because I know that there will be backlash. And I still do this, I’ve done it for years, when it’s something really scary to me, and I muster up the courage to hit the post button or publish button, I’ll run out of the room away from the laptop. As if after I hit the post button something would blow up in my face. I’m getting out of dodge. I think courage is a muscle that you build, and so the more you flex it and the more you experiment with it and see what happens, then the stronger you get and the more you’re able to tolerate.”
Sd: “When you are in a moment of decision when the limbic brain is vying for you to do something that is not in alignment with your goals, how do you coach yourself in that moment to stay the course and make a better decision?”
SH: “So, I talk about the limbic brain like it’s your girlfriend when she’s had too many glasses of Prosecco – like she’s drunk. She makes no sense and she’s not going to give you good advice. And so your drunk girlfriend is not the one that asks questions of any importance. I specifically deal with my drunk girlfriend at 5am every morning when it is time to get dressed to go for a run, and she wants to tell me all the reasons why it would be great to stay in bed (it’s cold outside, you didn’t remember to put your clothes out, you’re going to have to look for socks – crazy town stuff that’s not working toward my greater goal which is to go outside and go for a run). It’s all about using positive thoughts to jerk yourself out of your limbic brain and into your future self who has a different plan for you.
I have my clients (and myself included) anticipate that drunk girlfriend mind and anticipate obstacles. For example, what are the times of the day that are really difficult for you, or what projects have you noticed you are procrastinating on, or are really having trouble moving forward with? What are you telling yourself? Then, in advance, come up with a thought – I call them back pocket thoughts – that in the moment you could whip out of your back pocket and use. That is, come up with a self coaching thought in advance. One of mine is simply, ‘get your shoes on.’ That sounds so simple, but I know that if I do get up and just get dressed, I’m going to be awake enough to think better thoughts – and I’ll go running.”
Sd: “I’m very interested in the work you are doing with women around bringing more play, pleasure, joy, and fun into their lives. I think that we have a tendency to push away joy, push away fun, and push away play in our culture. Why is it that so many American women tend to not be nice toward themselves, and why is that so counterproductive in terms of our overall goals that we’re trying to achieve?”
SH: “I don’t think that women have a will power problem as it relates to food, alcohol, shopping, or whatever. I think that women have a pleasure problem – a pleasure deficit. We don’t, as a culture, tend to value fun, downtime, vacations, and pleasure – we do and we don’t. We don’t make time for it. Also, women are over worked and tend to place themselves on the back burner. If you’re taking care of yourself, and having fun, and making sure that you are sleeping, eating well, and have time off, you are not only so much happier, you’re not using food as a numbing technique. When I start getting my clients to have more fun and dive into pleasure, all of a sudden, everything solves itself.”
Sd: “And don’t you think that if you front-load your life with a lot of pleasure, when you are in those moments of decision, and in those moments of whether or not to make a courageous act, you have better muscles for that?”
SH: “What a great point. If I’m stressed to the max, and I’ve worked 16 hours that day, eaten terrible fast food, have only gotten 4 and ½ hours of sleep, haven’t moved my body, and haven’t done a thing for myself, then if there is a decision to be made about whether or not to step up and be courageous, or just go with the status quo, you feel exhausted to try and access courage. Now I’ve got to be courageous? Wow, forget it. It’s so much easier to act as your own wisdom when you are taking care of yourself and enjoying pleasurable things. “