Have you ever stopped writing after a painful critique caused you to doubt or devalue yourself?

Have you ever stopped writing after a painful critique caused you to doubt or devalue yourself?

Have you ever stopped doing what you love after a painful experience caused you to doubt or devalue yourself?

In high school, I enjoyed publishing fanfiction on online forums.  It was my first foray into publicizing my writing for fun, and it was very exciting.

Each positive review set me soaring high.  

But I noticed I’d hit publish sooner and sooner to feel that rush.  I’d start new pieces with the anticipation of “likes.”

The hunger for validation and connection soon replaced the quality and satisfaction I felt in the writing itself.  

Yet I couldn’t step away. Nothing else gave quite the same delicious thrill as reading, “Love this, can’t wait for the next one!” in response to something I’d created.

Breaking point 

One day, I stumbled upon a random internet thread between 3 anonymous users ridiculing my stories and me as an author. I removed my fanfiction and stopped writing.  Something so joyful had become tainted by other people’s opinions.

If I wasn’t happy with my own writing, it didn’t matter how many glowing reviews I received.  

This is a recurring lesson in both writing and life.  

Critical responses don’t matter as much as how you feel about them.  

And how deeply you take them in.  If you’re sensitive or have people-pleasing tendencies, it’s especially easy to lose yourself trying to make others happy.

You may want to shut yourself down to avoid feeling the pain again.  You may focus harder on appeasing others so they only have good things to say. You might end up taking on their values and direction while getting further away from your own.  

Others’ opinions of you will contradict. Getting caught up in external beliefs and values muddies your own creative waters.

The remedy is inner satisfaction and self-acceptance. 

Though you may not have to regularly be around the cruel critiquers who put you down (or affirming applauders who lift you up), you do have to be around yourself 24/7.

It’s challenging to get back into the groove of intuitive joy in writing, but very much possible.  

I’ve seen this in my own experience as well as when supporting clients navigating this process.  The more authentic joy and satisfaction you find in the process, the quicker your desires become reality.  

Having a good relationship with yourself doesn’t completely take away the crush of criticism, but can help put criticism into perspective so it doesn’t set you off your own course.  

A path to finding inner satisfaction and self-acceptance as a sensitive creative artist:

  • Awareness

Get to know your own patterns and tendencies.  What makes you happy? When do you tend to second-guess yourself?  What are your met and unmet needs?  Who are you as a writer?  What makes you feel most fulfilled?  How can you best care for yourself when challenges arise?

  • Acknowledgement 

Acknowledge your feelings, desires, and needs as valid.  Affirm yourself so you don’t need the approval of others.

Credit yourself where credit is due.  When you’ve accomplished something, celebrate it.

See the value of the learning journey.  Everything you do contributes to knowing a bit more–nothing is lost as all can be applied to the next endeavor.

  • Acceptance 

You are perfectly imperfect.  It’s okay to be who you are. You have both flaws and gifts.

Don’t judge your path.  As long as you are doing right by yourself and your integrity, you are right where you need to be.  You may wish to be further along than you are, but will that really give you the fulfillment you crave?  Or will you just want to be somewhere else instead? 

  • Application 

Cultivate a relationship with your writing.  Your writing is part of you, and separate.

Find the balance between doing and being.  Don’t go so slow that you don’t move towards your desires, but don’t rush ahead at the expense of your own nervous system.  Both doing and being-states are important.

A couple prompts to consider…

  • How do you define satisfaction for yourself? Your current writing? Your creativity?
  • What was a moment you felt satisfied (in writing, creativity, or life)?  Describe it in detail.  Then, ask why… Why was this satisfying?  What made it satisfying? How can you apply these qualities to your current endeavors?

What was once a shameful experience is now something I hardly think about anymore.

Those times early in our lives where we put ourselves out there and receive rejection can be quite formative, setting up patterns we continue to see in ourselves. 

Don’t lose hope–you can heal these patterns and consciously create new habits. I believe you can find radical loving self-acceptance.

Have you had a similar experience? I’m curious what has helped you rediscover inner satisfaction with something you love.  Reply and let me know; I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. Walker Hayes’ Acceptance Speech is a honest, catchy song about accepting yourself despite the accolades, awards, or applause you receive (or don’t). While it speaks particularly to musicians, the challenges of feeling good when looking in the mirror are universal.

Introverts, not wanting to leave your serene pandemic nest?

introvert lying on orange sofa in pandemic nest
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

As an introvert or highly sensitive person, you may have gotten quite comfortable in your pandemic-nest. 

You’ve had time for your favorite things–to read luxuriously, to write courageously, to create freely, to reflect deeply, to sit quietly. 

The falling away of social demands has been an immense relief for introverts.

But now you’re being called back to work.  Or your friends and colleagues are inviting you to events.  Or you have to run certain errands that require you to be in person.  

Yikes.

It’s not that you want to decline invitations. 

Or not go to events.  Perhaps you do want to socialize, see friends, meet new people.  Maybe like me, you love meeting new people and having conversations as an introvert… just one-on-one and deep, please.  Preferably no big groups that drain your energy as you listen to the talkative ones talk.

When your nervous system space had time to decompress when the world slowed, going back into a mode that doesn’t feel natural is rightfully the last thing your introvert self wants to do. 

Yet at the same time, you might feel embarrassed and guilty for saying no. You want to protect your unstructured me-time to relax and create. But how many more invitations can you decline before you no longer have friends?

I feel you.

I love Zoom because

  • I can hit “end call,” and be done.  I don’t have to drive home afterwards in a daze of social exhaustion, or push myself to stay longer because everyone else is.
  • One person speaks at a time, which isn’t as overwhelming as a room of multiple conversations.  People mute themselves, and can be muted.
  • I can take notes as people speak without appearing to be distracted.  This helps me a ton. As a visual and kinesthetic processor, I take in information better when writing.  Sometimes my mind goes blank when I have only auditory input and something visual or imaginary competes for my attention. Writing helps me stay really present and listen deeply.  Even better, my detailed notes receive commendations by clients and colleagues since I capture their words without changing their language. 
  • Breakout rooms allow craved 1:1 conversations, making me feel connected. This is much more comfortable than speaking up in a big group I don’t know well.  Better yet, I don’t have to make the effort of initiating that 1:1 connection from the group.
  • I have more choice around participation than I would feel in-person. It’s easier to take breaks. I can choose whether to be on camera or off.  I can participate and benefit from calls that don’t require me to be seen and put together. I don’t have to make direct eye contact.
  • Being in my own space means I can set up to get my needs met. I can easily wrap a blanket around my legs when I’m cold. I can adjust my desk ergonomically so I’m not squirming, trying to get comfortable in a foreign chair. I don’t have to find a suitable eatery for my food sensitivities or explain my diet restrictions (vegan and gluten-free).

This doesn’t mean Zoom is a full substitute for life’s social interactions. But I believe the relief of video conferencing speaks to societal norms that reward extroverts. Social norms also hold values that are taxing to the nervous system, like working hard and fast for instant results. 

When your body rebels, it’s not you, it’s the system.

Regardless of what the mainstream world would have you believe… There is nothing wrong with you.  It’s okay to feel more comfortable online or at a slower pace than the world seems to want you to move.  

Here are some journaling prompts to consider when you’re faced with leaving your pandemic nest:

  • Awareness: Bring to mind a social pressure that makes your body contract, stomach tighten, mind scream “no!”
    • What are your reactions? Become aware of your body sensations, emotions, and thoughts.
  • Acknowledgement: Sit with the discomfort to go underneath the feeling to see what you need to know.
    • Why are you having this reaction? What about it makes you uncomfortable?
  • Acceptance: Affirm the reasons driving this reaction.
    • What are your needs which are not being met?
  • Application: Decide what choice to make about the situation.
    • How can you be in healthy relationship with the situation?

Even if you struggle with social interactions as an introvert or highly sensitive person, that doesn’t mean there aren’t types of social interaction that do work for you. 

I believe through knowing yourself deeply, self-acceptance, and self-love, you can create a life that honors and supports you inside and outside of your nest.

The bones of a story, and why using a structural formula doesn’t prevent your story from being unique

“I want my story to be unique. 

Will following a structural formula like the 3 act structure mean my story becomes formulaic and predictable, just like the other books out there?”

This is a common concern.

The structure is the bones of the story. 

It’s not something the reader ever sees.  We don’t see each other’s bones.  Our bones (and muscles and connective tissues!) form and shape our bodies, making us look the way we do.  These are internal.

The foundation of a house helps decide where the front door is, where the main rooms are, where the exit is.  But when we look at a house, we can’t see the foundation. We see the paint and the decor and the design.

What people actually see when they look at you.

The way we look.  The clothes we wear, our facial expressions.

And the way we feel.  Our energy. Whether they feel welcomed or wary in our presence.

Our uniqueness comes from the textures of our skin, our scars, the ways we choose to express ourselves through clothing, etc.  Our personality.

When you’re writing a story, your experiences are one aspect of it. 

The uniqueness shines in how you tell the story.  

Two people can go on a hike together.  While one person is noticing the clouds, another is noticing the flowers.  What’s on their minds affects the experience.  One person might be worried about their pet’s lack of appetite while another person is rejuvenated by the memory of a happy moment when their father took the time to explain the science behind flower blooms.  

These details bring on the uniqueness, and are affected by the essence of a person.  They show (not tell) the experience.  

The structure shapes the story in a way that makes sense, is compelling, and takes the reader on a journey.

Structures add satisfying depth and richness.

They allow the writer to see their story in a whole new way. And let the writer walk away with a new tool for developing future stories with confidence.

I’ve never seen story structures make writing formulaic or diminish the experience for those I’ve worked with. 

Structural formulas prevent common issues.

Some issues are difficult to diagnose once a story is written. Pacing, for example.

Conflict.

Purpose.

Character development.

Structural formulas make it easier.

You don’t have to reinvent this part of the wheel–you can focus your creativity on the writing.

I encourage you to make it easier on yourself by organizing your story based on popular methods. The details are what require your attention for a unique spin.

Your sacred vulnerability isn’t for everyone

vulnerability, sharing writing

“Our imperfections are what connect us to one another and to our humanity.

Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we’re all in this together.” 

Quote from Brene Brown’s work.

There’s no question that emotional vulnerability allows connection.  

Whether that’s through a conversation or in writing, when we open up to our fears, longings, and emotional truths, we feel closer to each other.  

In an equal person-to-person exchange in real-time, vulnerability builds connection.  There is a give and take.  

When the balance is off, like the other person not reciprocating or you oversharing, you can feel it.  Just as you can sense when the person you’re speaking to doesn’t care or can’t hold your truth.  You might back off and close down if you don’t feel safe.

This is natural and normal.  An imbalance of vulnerability creates power dynamics.  Your body is aware of this even if you’re not conscious of it.  

In writing, it’s a little different.  You might write alone and have no clue how many people your words will reach, in whichever way you share.  

You may have a fear of visibility, discomfort being seen.  

Especially being seen in vulnerability when sharing a personal story.

In today’s world where recording and sharing is easy, we have the means to be vulnerable online for consumption by masses, and things go unexpectedly viral, it’s especially important to check in where your own boundaries lie.

Some people are really comfortable with visibility, naturally sharing about themselves freely and openly, unworried about the world’s reactions.  And some aren’t, struggling to manage shame spirals resulting from being seen.  

Can you recall a time your work was seen before you were ready?  It can feel quite invasive. 

Being yourself, aligned with your authentic self, does not mean your vulnerability is for public consumption.  

Openness and authenticity are great values.  

Your visceral reactions to sharing your writing might be a positive stretch, like standing atop a diving board.  Or it might be your body saying, “No, too much.”  

Imagine concentric circles surrounding you.  If you’re familiar with energetic principles, imagine your body, energy bubble, and auric field extending out from you in all directions.  

Your deepest innards are sacred, those most sensitive parts at the core of your being.
The next layer is what you share with those closest to you. 
The outer layer is what those who don’t know you well see.

When your writing hits your sacred core, doesn’t the intensity of letting the public in make sense?

So how do you know the difference between a courageous stretch versus more than your body can take?

Titrate your journey.  

There’s a bit of the unknown, where you don’t know how you’re going to feel with people reading your writing… until people are actually reading your writing.  Play and explore when sharing and notice your own process. 

Every creative has different needs and levels of comfort around the sharing of vulnerable writing.

Distinguish what sorts of things you feel okay with sharing, and what you don’t.  

You might find that certain topics are off-limits while others you don’t mind being open about.  This is good information.

It takes practice to put little bits of yourself out there, see how it feels, and build the muscle of vulnerability.  It might be tempting to just throw yourself into the deep end, but be cognizant when your body tightens up.

Get comfortable with knowing for yourself where your boundaries are with how much vulnerability you’re okay with sharing in your personal writing.  

Things to try.

  • Create a sacred container for your innermost personal writings that is completely private.  
  • Explore your comfort
    Would you feel safest if your writing was anonymous and no one who knew you could read it? 
    Would you feel safer if only those who knew you could see your words, not strangers? 
    Do you need two weeks for the words to sit before sharing so you’re not as attached? 
    Can you only share with your best friend at first?  A trusted group?
  • Play with a space for writings that you want to share, but aren’t ready yet. 
    A great way is through an anonymous blog.  I’ve had great success with this as a practice.  You control the visibility setting–private, password protected, for those with the link, etc. 
  • Edit consciously. What frame helps you feel good about what you put out there? What details can be modified to feel safe?

Wherever you’re at is okay.  

Even if that means you’re not ready to share.  The outcome isn’t the only thing that’s important–how you feel matters

If you’re going at a rate where you’re overwhelmed and experiencing increasing shame spirals every time you share your writing, it might be time to pause, slow down, and see what you need.

Imagine you’re an ocean, and have choice for how deeply you allow others to wander into your shores.  

You are more than your words.  You still get to keep that sacred core deep within you safe, private, and untouchable. 

About the author

I help people connect and tell their stories.

I am a certified coach, writing mentor, writer, and group facilitator who enjoys helping people who’ve felt different and struggle with feeling disconnected.

Since 2008, I’ve worked with writers in every messy step of the creation process. I’m passionate about delving deep into the story underneath the story — the root cause of the struggle with communication — so you can feel good about the results.

For more, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list or explore how we can work together.

Show your reader the journey to prevent talking down to them

engaged reader, mom reading to young daughter on picnic blanket

Have you ever listened to someone who doesn’t often get the chance to be heard?  They spill their story, going on and on.  Even when you shift your feet, move your gaze, or even tell them outright you need to get going.  It’s okay for a while to offer the gift of listening, but then at some point you feel invisible amidst their rambling–they don’t even notice you’re not following. 

Or have you watched a movie where a certain point is made over and over again, and the whole movie seems like nothing more than a way to serve the moral?  

You’ve probably been in a situation where you didn’t feel engaged with a story.  

Telling doesn’t let the reader engage.

Telling can be condescending to the reader when it’s one-sided.  Colored by your current views, it doesn’t allow the reader to engage.

The reader can’t follow the cause and effects you see, or get from point A to point B when they aren’t involved in the journey. They don’t get to think for themselves and form their own opinions and conclusions.

Plus, you might change your mind about what an experience means.  There’s limitless ways to interpret a situation.  You’ll likely view it through different lenses over time.

It’s valuable to write the story for yourself.

In the process of writing about a personal experience, whether it’s for a personal essay or memoir, you can start by processing the raw experience.  Through journaling or talking to a friend, therapist, or mentor.  

Then you might catalog the lessons you learned to see them in a new way.  You can get a lot out of this.  

When it’s time to shape your story to be read by others, you might want to try using narrative techniques to create more engagement and connection for the reader.

The magic of a story comes from “showing, not telling.”  

You might notice your writing is flat, unengaging, or uninteresting (or others give you this feedback).  You’re excited to convey all the lessons you learned, but the narrative falls flat and your reader is bored.  

“Showing, not telling” takes the reader with you on the journey.  

If you’re writing a personal essay or memoir, you might include a scene of dialogue between you and the teacher who made a big difference in your life in order to SHOW what’s happening.  In this way, you’re also letting the reader feel a part of it.

The most important thing isn’t the lesson itself, but the way you use tone, context cues, and creative narrative choices to SHOW the lesson you learned.  

Stay in the experience.

By staying with the events themselves, the story you’re telling, and the central thread running through the whole piece, you can complete your piece without altering the narrative of the lessons.  Stay with what happened; the things that can’t be disputed. 

Your current thoughts and feelings may change.  What happened in the moment?  E.g. The room had blue walls.  You laughed even though they expected you to cry. There were 50 people in the building.  You were scared. You told him to pack his bags and leave. 

Lead from the things that were true in the moment.

Story is a wonderful method to teach and learn–it’s how we as humans understand the world.  

You don’t need to hit the reader over the head for them to understand what you’re trying to get across.  You can make your point through mini-stories.

This is a more complex method than just sharing your past experiences, so it’s okay if it takes multiple drafts to get it right.

Take your reader directly into the action using sensory details.

I know it’s challenging to remember details from the past.  

You don’t need to have a perfect memory–this exercise is about capturing details and emotional tone, authentic to the moment, without the benefit of years of insight and hindsight.

Memory is faulty anyway! It’s okay to use creative license as long as you’re in integrity; no one’s memory is perfect.

Here are 3 exercises I use with clients to help go from telling to showing.

Do you struggle with this? Reply and let me know.

Proving you’re a writer to yourself

proving you're a writer, woman in hammock

“You’re a writer the minute you say you are. Nobody gives you a diploma–you have to prove it, at least to yourself.”  ~ Quote by Jr. from The Tender Bar.  

What lets you hold the title of “writer?”  

Is it…

  • Quantity of pages or word count produced per day or week
  • X number of complete works
  • Making money off your words
  • Writing full-time professionally
  • Seeing your book on the shelf of your favorite bookstore

What would make you feel like you’re enough?

  • When your writing is “perfect”
  • When you’re advanced, with X years of experience
  • After working with an editor
  • Once X number of people buy your book
  • Winning an award

None of the above needs to be your definition of “writer.”

Are you still a writer if…

  • You’ve been blocked for years
  • You don’t have any one genre to fit under
  • You write for yourself, without sharing your work

“Every industry has a way of making you feel terrible about yourself.”

Wise words from Laura Rowe.

The writing industry spans quite a spectrum. Being a writer can mean so many different things.  Novelist.  Blogger.  Memoirist.  Travel writer.  Academic writer.  Copywriter.  Journalist.  

Each with various internal and external benchmarks for success.

Yet.  As an identity, being a writer can go beyond the definition of an author whose work is traditionally published and distributed by a mainstream publisher.

Through my work, I’ve seen writing take many shapes to fulfill many different purposes.

Ultimately, I want to see you find satisfaction for yourself.  

So you’re not forever poised in a limbo of never feeling enough as a creative until X happens.  It’s common to want so badly to launch something to show for all you’ve done, but all the the pressure makes the end get further and further away. 

I’m a fan of supporting people to define their own terms.  Attempting to fit into a predetermined box is painful. 

Be open to your inner compass’s guidance towards something a bit different than mainstream expectation.

Your mind may grip tight to what writing “should” look like, suppressing your organic soulful creative instincts.

Maybe there’s someone at a local Open Mic whose life is going to change when they hear your words, and it doesn’t matter that the paper copy of your story is wrinkled and has a glaring typo that makes you wince.

Maybe you need to go on that lesser-known social media site and blog your journey of forbidden passions so you can connect with future best friends who understand and accept you fully.

Maybe it’s time to put together that ebook or website for your soul-centered business so your ideal clients can benefit from your work.

Free yourself up to brainstorm outside the lines.  What is calling to you?

You get to decide what’s valid.

When you beat yourself up for not being where you want to be.  When you feel the fear of being caught out as a fraud for your [lack of worthy] creative accomplishments… I invite you to question your assumptions.

What does being a writer mean to you?  And what do you want it to mean?

Make sure your assumptions serve you.

Turn down the volume of the outside world, and listen inwards for your creative impulses, letting them guide you to your own unique creative desires, goals, and accomplishments.

Be kind and gentle with yourself as you listen to your inner voice. Even when you receive all the world’s validation, finding peace within is priceless.

3 creative exercises to initiate inspired writing by activating your body

Writing brings together both sides of the brain.  It’s creative, and also analytical.

This is fascinating because you can pen a grocery list or draw a plan just as you can write a creative fictional story or allow your intuition to speak through your words.

This is good to remember because…

The logical rational part of the brain is where the inner critic lives.

When you’re finding yourself telling instead of showing, you’re probably more in the analytical space.  This tends to not be as interesting to the reader.  I’ve written about that here.

To disengage the logical rational part of the brain where the inner critic lives, I lead my clients through exercises that engage the body, activate the imagination, and enliven the heart and soul.  

Here are examples of 3 exercises I use with clients to help get into the flow-state of writing and show not tell:

Exercise #1: Dropping into the scene

  1. Scan your document for a place where you’ve stated a lesson you learned.  Find a telling statement.
    E.g. You see that you wrote: “After my fight with my sister in ‘09, I learned to stop giving my power away to other people.”
  2. Get into a meditative state.
  3. Brainstorm/imagine/visualize/think of a scene that provides a specific story/example of this.  

It might be:

  • Dialogue
  • A specific event
  • An action you took
  1. Now, go back in time to that moment, to before you became who you are today.  You might visualize it in your mind or take on the body postures of that event and act it out.
  2. Write from here.

It might be painful to relive the memory–one of the benefits of hindsight, insight, and introspection is the distance mentalizing something offers to the emotional body.  So if you notice this coming up, remember that you aren’t actually back in that situation.  Step back to the “current” spot and shake it off.  Access your past reality to help write from that place, but don’t get stuck back there!

Exercise #2: Time machine

This exercise uses sticky notes on the wall or notecards on the floor denoting ages.  E.g. if you’re 37 years old, lay out these sticky notes:

  • Current (37)
  • 5 years ago / 32
  • 10 years ago / 27
  • 15 years ago / 22
  1. Take a few breaths, and imagine stepping onto your current position.  Take on the body posture of how you feel about this situation now.
  2. Shake it off. Step backwards onto the 32 sticky note.  Imagine your life 5 years ago.  What dominant emotions come up?  What position does your body take?  Sense into the situation.  Stay here a minute or two. 
  3. Shake it off. Keep progressing backwards until you get to the age you were in this situation.  

Exercise #3: Step into their shoes

A third experiential exercise I guide clients through involves taking on the body postures of each person involved in the scene to step into their shoes.  

  1. Imagine the scene.
  2. Pretend you’re stepping into the body of each person involved in the scene.
  3. Take on their body posture and act out their actions.  Notice how you feel and what insights you receive.
  4. Switch roles if there are multiple people in the scene.  Repeat steps above for each person.
  5. Return to your own body to integrate the experience.

This allows you to get out of your head and discover new perspectives. Your insights to fill in the gaps of your memory of the scene.

You can create inspiration and get into the flow of writing quite easily with these exercises.

Curious to learn more about how you can create impulses for writing instead of waiting endlessly for the right spark of inspiration?

I offer a free assessment to discuss your situation and needs.  Contact me.

Transmuting wounds to superpowers doesn’t have to be a loud, explosive affair

transmuting wounds to superpowers, woman crowning herself

During my last event, one of the topics we covered was transmuting wounds to superpowers and reframing challenges.  This is a universal archetypal experience.

For example, I’ve been told I’m too quiet all my life.  I thought there was something wrong with me for not having words at the tip of my tongue immediately when I was expected to perform. There’s some wounding around my quietness.

Self-exploration can answer deeply ingrained questions.

“Why am I this way?”  Or a more fulfilling question: “How can I use my gifts in a way that feels good?”

Sometimes we get stuck in victim-mode around our wounds.  There’s a purpose for victim-mode in the path of healing—it helps to see why things are so difficult.  

After we understand the big picture from this lens, we can choose to shift into a new narrative.

From a greater perspective, I can see that my quietness is a multitude of things.  I can separate the wound from the power.  Appreciate my sensitivity, heal the trauma.  

Why is a wound a wound?

Wounding might be around something that has caused pain (e.g. hearing opinions that you’re not enough) or shame (“something is wrong with me”).  

You may have wounds around beautiful aspects of your persona.  Maybe wounding around your creativity, sensitivity, or energetic drive.

Have you been consistently told you’re “too _____?”

Where have you felt not-enough?  

I invite you to explore this and widen your perspective.  How did this feel?  Did it cause you to hide behind bulky armor, or aggressively get into offensive-mode?  

Do you agree on a heart-and-soul-level with this designation?

Where is the line of “just-right” volume, sensitivity, creativity, energy, or whatever you’ve been measured by?  If it exists at all.

What else does this trait mean, and how does it uniquely identify who you are?

Create from wounds for healing and purpose.  

There is healing in creativity.  

Our wounds often lead us to a sense of purpose as we navigate them.  

I’ve discovered that my voice is well-suited for leading meditations and clients appreciate deep listening without being interrupted.  Being quiet helps me less often startle my semi-feral cat friend, who tends to spook and run at loud noises.  

You might find that you feel a sense of purpose through creating beautiful abstract paintings when you were once told you were “too messy.”  Or through writing your story after believing that you weren’t interesting enough.

Time and gently scuffing away layers of shame and perceived inadequacy uncover our gifts.

Transmutation of wounds to superpowers doesn’t have to be a big, loud affair.  

It can be quiet acceptance or simple language reframing. Gentle scuffing away of the layers preventing your shine. A natural changing of the tides in divine timing. It it isn’t always harsh and rough.

When you look for these wounded places through self-exploration or telling your story, you can see.  

Find and listen to those who reflect your superpowers back to you, whether that’s a good friend, colleague, mentor, coach, your students, or your beloved pet.  Experiencing authentic, warm, or loving connection can heal the past experiences of lost-connection that caused the wounds in the first place.

Even when you don’t realize it, you are already using your gifts.  

Analysis paralysis? You’re not alone.

analysis paralysis, image of purple and pink plasma ball of energy

For the past two days, analysis paralysis weighed me down. 

Each day, I sat down, wrote a list of to-dos, and stared until the words lost meaning.  My mind sifted through a mess of options like disconnected puzzle pieces scattered on the ground.

I tried prioritizing.

But priorities weren’t clear for complex work.  Even tasks with deadlines had information missing.  What seemed like the obvious next step (writing a first draft or scheduling an event) required knowledge or time doing something else. Like research or taking a class.  

I waffled with a spark of writing inspiration.

Should it should be a book or a blog?  Blog or book?  I knew ultimately it didn’t matter–the blog could easily become a book, and vice versa–but my mind was dead set on racing back and forth like a puppy exploring yummy scents on a trail.

I questioned whether I needed outside help.

Yet learning something new or seeking extra opinions would increase my existing information overload.

~

Can you relate? 

I’ve seen analysis paralysis often in clients who are spinning in many great ideas. Wanting to be thorough with a plan. Having all the knowledge before moving forward.  

Yet trying to fit a new creative idea into a box can be like trying to decide on what colleges a newborn should apply to.

It’s great to be conscientious and strive to be the best you can be.

And, imperfection is okay.  Imperfection is necessary for progress.

Needing to take the “right” actions is a mental trap that leads to overwhelm.

You can use self-awareness to shift into a state of calm inspiration.

When you know yourself, you understand your patterns and operating mechanisms. 

The better you know yourself, the quicker you get at calling yourself out. You’ll recognize the simpler issues causing the mental chaos.

Instead of learning how to do something from external sources (especially when your tasks require creativity and one size doesn’t fit all!), when you’re able to listen to your own body cues and soul whispers, the guidance you receive is apt for your current state.  Not the person you were two years ago or who you wish to be in the future. 

Now is where satisfaction and creative flow lives.  

When you’re writing, sometimes you need to research, plan, or prioritize your projects.  And sometimes you just need to write one page, focusing on a successful process to take you to your desired destination one step at a time.

~

As is my method, I turned to writing–and you can too. 

When I was in analysis paralysis, I wrote out my stuck spots.  As I journaled, I paid attention to my body sensations.  I started off by noticing that my “priority” stumped me.  My pen strokes were messy, shaky, and light on the page. My mind felt overwhelmed, body heavy.

As I kept writing what I thought I needed, I noticed where I felt more open, expansive, and inspired.

Here, my penmanship was bolder, neater, and more confident.  It felt right.

The sensations in my body and the sure letters forming on the page informed my answers.  

I didn’t really need external guidance to choose the best step forward. I just needed a baby step of inspired action.

What I discovered during my 10-minute self-exploration session.

On this day, rather than prioritizing, I needed to break down my tasks into the quickest and easiest to begin. Versus the most effortful.  Getting into the state of knocking out the little things would energize me to tackle the bigger ones.  

Ultimately, it was about using my systems for getting into the state of taking mini-actions to set off momentum.

~

I hope this story inspires you when you’re stuck in analysis paralysis. 

If you’re struggling to get out of your head, I’m happy to offer tools and guidance for connecting with your inner wisdom to create a satisfying creative life. Please reach out.  If you have a friend or two with similar struggles, please share and invite them to sign up to receive these articles.  

P.S. By recognizing perfectionism and taking one baby step, I found myself in productive flow. I also realized the “priority” wasn’t really a priority at all. All resulting from under 20 minutes of introspection.

You can find inspired action too. Feel free to respond and let me know your baby step.

Relevancy–another reason not to strive to please everyone

relevant woman carrying a torch

You know how when conversation turns to talk of the best stock options or your brother-in-law describes renovations on their house in detail, your eyes glaze over? 

It’s almost like you lose time in another dimension.  

Once you’ve refocused on something else–like the oranges on the tree outside (yumm, orange juice) or the beading on your water glass, you’re back in your body.

There’s a reason for this.

Human brains have a radar system.

It’s called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC).  The ACC scans the environment for what is relevant to you.  The definition of “relevant” is unique to each person, based on life history.  The ACC doesn’t encode what’s seen as irrelevant.  

There’s a reason you might struggle to learn about or pay attention to things that don’t seem relevant–that’s not how the brain works.  

~

Imagine this article opened with information on the ACC.  How it’s the frontal part of the cingulate cortex surrounding the corpus callosum and has both cognitive and emotional components.

Unless you’re particularly interested in neuroscience, you may have tuned out the terms.  You probably would skip right over the terms to get to the point–I would.

You can probably relate to the experience of tuning someone out, even if you do speak the language of money markets and structural engineering. Sometimes those you dearly love share things that just don’t interest you.

This is why there’s a “hook” at the beginning of most types of writing–to catch the reader’s attention.

And so they know the article, book, story, etc, will be relevant to them.

Even if you’re passionate about hydroponics, that doesn’t mean your audience is, or knows the ins and outs of the terms you use.  Since you don’t want their eyes glazing over at the details, you want to find a way to link the details to the purpose, or how it relates to them.  

You can use the knowledge of the ACC’s function around relevancy in various aspects of your life.

I’ve written before about why to write to an ideal reader and 2 ways to clearly identify them.  To deeply engage your readers, you want to write to them directly.  You can’t please ‘em all.

I believe that storytelling, archetypes, and emotions are universal while details are unique. 

Whether you’re writing or you just want to feel seen, heard, and understood in your life, speak to those who get you. 

You can do this by relating to universal archetypes and emotions.  I’ve written about this here.  It’s a huge gift to feel understood through reading someone else’s story, particularly when you’ve felt invalidated or lonely in the past around your interests.  

Just by being yourself, you can find others who do find what you have to say relevant to them–you can connect to the deeper truths of what makes your story universal and engage your readers.

Goodbye attempts to please people and make everyone happy–hello authenticity, vulnerable courage, and connecting with your people.

Also, the next time you find yourself not feeling heard or understood–perhaps it’s not about you or your ability to express yourself clearly–it’s just others’ ACCs.