As some of us discussed in a previous post, I have a tendency to act against my better knowledge because I’m impatient or too lazy to take that extra step of preparation before I can move forward. And I’ve often wondered how I can train myself to not only pay attention to my inner voice but also stop in my tracks and do what it says, because it really is quite clever sometimes and doesn’t deserve to be told off.
Is it about slowing down in general, in thought and actual physical movement? A question of planning and making a structure before you push ahead? (I know people who keep doing that to perfection and thus never getting started – argh! But alas – I guess this is why I don’t play chess) Being more mindful in general, less goal oriented? Just a matter of habit?
Then Birdie suggested there could also be an element of self-sabotage in there. But who would want to do such a thing?! Which in turn made me think of having subconscious fears of succes. After all, once you really make it, there is even more pressure, because now you have to top everything you’ve done previously. And keep doing it! I still don’t quite get how this applies to ordinary daily activities, unless you take your life way too seriously for anybody’s good. But it’s a theory.
I would for instance LOVE to just sit at home in my snuggly little corner and get paid to write books. Never risk having to do another slave job in my life. They’d be great books of course and I’d like to make a truckload of money. Well, a fair amount anyway, enough to make a good life for myself and some extra to share the love around. What I don’t want is to appear in magazines and tv-interviews, even a book signing tour sounds pretty horrible. * Now, that’s really sending a mixed signal to the universe, right? I want the succes, but only the nice bits! Disregarding my chances of producing a best seller or not, could this and other similar disharmonies of intention be causing some of those weird reactions? “I want to paint but I have a million excuses before I can get started.” Later is not as real as now, so it’s also safer in terms of showing what you’ve got.
This is definitely something I need to be working on and thinking about.
* I don’t mind putting in the long hours of research, writing, editing etc. But is seems that today, if you want to sell, you don’t have to just output great stuff, you also have to be a travelling circus. In fact I have a feeling that publishers only bother marketing the authors that look good in pictures. (ok, I’m a lost case already….)
I’m also trying to teach myself, not to stop procrastinating, because I don’t think I can at this point in time, but to do it differently. Trick myself into not wasting time; and by that I don’t mean well deserved naps, but the times when you hang out in front of the computer, checking the weather page (again), looking up new tags on WordPress, read Facebook (I’m a stalker – never post, only comment my friends’ posts). All because you want to avoid spending 3 minutes walking to the (chilly) back room to start a load of laundry. Or stack firewood, trim horse hooves etc.
So what I’m practising is: Say that I plan to spend the day painting because it’s sunny but cold, so I have enough light but want to be inside, I’ve been having some ideas, perfect, yes? And yet I find myself pottering about not really doing much of anything, getting more coffee (which I honestly don’t even like much), clipping my nails, or getting overwhelmed with exhaustion, feeling the flutter of moths (not pretty butterflies) beating hard inside me; instead of flopping down for something completely brainless, I now do useful displacement activities. So I may not have beaten my performance anxiety, but at least the floor is clean, the laundry all done, my desk is shiny (very useful) and I feel a small victory in not having spent 4 hours reloading silly webpages. (not counting those of you wonderful, inspiring people whose pages I read regularly of course 😉 )
This has also (I hope, since this is a fairly new practice) solved another old problem of mine: having too many hobbies. This used to stress me out completely, because I felt I had/wanted to do all of them all the time, with equal skill, attention and results. Painting and knitting ended up on a shelf for many, many years, the horses were gone for over a decade too, but then all of them insisted on coming back as well as the photography, the computer graphics, new ones entered such as gardening, spinning and dyeing. And, well, you still have to cook and clean and mow the grass, fix the fences, and if you had the money it would be nice to fix up the house too. I’d love to start writing again. I want to learn to felt, and how about using all that plant dyed yarn to make tapetries? Calligraphy is cool. Collages. I love to read – for days. Etc. etc. So no matter which activity I chose for the day, I felt guilty about the others. And sometimes (often) not doing any of them just from the stress of juggling them in my head (clicking webpages again while I worked on my decision). And some of you may have noticed, I didn’t even talk about jobs…
Now I’ve decided that
- I don’t need to be doing any of it all the time. I can totally justify having a spinning wheel and only using it once a month, even if I’ve got 40 pounds of wool sitting around the house and also rearranged half the living room into a painting studio.
- I can use those many hobbies, which are in some ways related since they’re mostly about visual creativity, to outsmart my anxiety. So you’re too scared to paint today? Ok, well, while you’re picking up your guts I’ll go write a blog post. Don’t have anything to say? Right, let’s dye some yarn. And while I wait for the water to boil I’ll just prime a few pieces of paper or frame some canvas, just so it’s ready to go in case you do feel like picking up a brush. That way, I’m still being creative, or getting everything organized and easy for being creative instead of just running away for a nap and then feeling like a complete failure for doing so. The focus is on keeping a certain flow, not which actual activity is helping me do so. If all else fails, I’ll sit down with my coffee and read a book about being creative….
One benefit is, that some tasks are so boring (such as housework) that I have to procastinate my way through those by doodling a bit, slather some random paint on a canvas for a background etc. in between tasks – or actually during if I break up laundry into sorting, washing, hanging, folding. So the method works both ways. I get more things done without rushing or stressing about a todo list, I pretty much choose my current activity in the moment. Being a world champion of list making, this is incredibly liberating! I mean, I have the making of to-do lists as a whole hobby/activity in itself. I still need them to declutter my head, but I don’t actually look at them very much – and I still get as much done if not more. Cool huh?
But all this sounds really complicated. Am I in reality just fighting
windmills a lazy nature? I know my body doesn’t seem to want to move about much of its own accord, as in sports, dancing etc. Maybe I should just lay down arms and embrace who I am; but I’m worried that is someone who sits on the sofa with a book, eating cake all day, house falling apart around me…. I have this inner drive – but I’m nearly always tired.
Synchronicity again: I finish the post, then read this:
We are generally torn between two opposite sets of instructions programmed into the brain: the least-effort imperative [entropy] on one side, and the claims of creativity [discovery] on the other.
If you made it this far, you deserve a reward. 😉 I’m sorry I didn’t find more pictures to distract you.