Do you struggle to set yourself up for success in meeting your creative needs?
“Be in control of your environment,” my physical therapist often says.
If it hurts to reach up and retrieve a dinner plate from the cabinet, move the plates.
Such simple, practical advice. So why does something so straightforward feel impossible at times?
Resistance can take many forms.
It may be a visceral physical feeling: pain, exhaustion, overwhelm.
It may be emotions: anger, sadness, fear.
It may be thoughts: Move the plates? Where? The countertops are too full. Plates are supposed to be stored in the cabinet.
It’s a shared space; I can’t go around changing the kitchen to my whims.
This isn’t supposed to be happening to me. It shouldn’t hurt to do something most people don’t think twice about. I’m too young for this.
I can’t do it. It’s too much.
What is so hard about moving plates? Goodness, how can I fail at such a simple thing?
I should be doing more, working harder, finding solutions to fix myself so I don’t need to move the plates.
Sometimes you need to change yourself, and sometimes you can’t.
Sometimes you need to change yourself.
To work harder, to take a break. Fill a gap in your knowledge, leave your comfort zone. Hold a boundary, compromise. Speak up, quiet down.
Resistance to the status quo comes in handy, pointing out where you can improve.
Sometimes you don’t need to change yourself.
The urge to do more may come from an insatiable internal pressure and societal programming. The instilled belief that (1) you aren’t enough, that (2) you need something outside of you, or (3) you need to change who you are in order to have what you truly want.
Resistance against norms or your own internal pressure can stem from your inner wisdom’s voice.
Sometimes you physically can’t change yourself.
Due to illness, injury, chronic condition, or simply how your brain operates. Time constraints, financial limitations, responsibilities. There’s only so much you can do.
Here, resistance makes a lot of sense–it’s your body saying, “no.”
Changing the environment to meet your creative needs.
As a creative, you need tools just as in any craft. To write: pen & paper, computer & word document.
Beyond that, you need resources: Time and space to create. Peace of mind without other burning priorities and unmet needs.
You may have requirements that look different from someone else’s. That’s okay. If your needs feel unreasonable, get curious and ask yourself–is this because you’re used to ignoring your needs?
- Maybe you want your blue Bic ballpoint pen, otherwise the words don’t come out right.
- Or your inbox has to be at 0 so unread and to-send messages aren’t nagging at you.
- If you can’t focus in a cluttered environment, what would it take to clear out your room?
- If a fortress of pillows and blankets feels safe, what if you turned off your phone, locked your door, and created a cozy cave? Yes, even though you’re an adult and this sounds like child’s play.
- If you do your best creative work outside, can you take a notebook and walk to the park?
- If you need a day to yourself and blasting music so you can focus, how might that work?
- Conversely, how can you be around people to get into a happy productive zone?
Start with awareness of your creative needs–what’s truly stopping you?
Be gentle with yourself in your inquiry of your needs. Especially when it stops being about the plates and touches something much deeper. A therapist or mentor can help with long-existing raw spots.
It’s okay to ask for support with mental blocks. It’s common to not see an obvious solution until someone points it out to you. It might help to inform a spouse or family member to help you meet a need.
I invite you to think outside the box. Be open and flexible. What if… I had the space, tools, and resources that met my creative needs?
When it’s all too much, H.A.L.T. (acronym) if you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Resource yourself. Break it down. And try again. Small steps can make a world of difference in your creativity, productivity, and satisfaction.
Keep your plates from causing you pain and create an environment that supports your success.
Good luck and happy writing.