One of the biggest barriers to getting things done (including making art) is fear. This is something I’ve spoken about extensively but today in my journaling something deeper emerged. I realised that this fear can develop into a cycle that becomes self-feeding and can be incredibly difficult to get out of.

For example, using the illustration – you’ve made a new years resolution to yourself that this is the year you’ll prioritise YOU time. You’ll allocate time each week to spend on activities that nurture your soul and soothe your spirit. It will be fun time, learning time, healing time. It WILL be a priority.

Then the festive break is over and you’re back at work. Life returns to normal and you decide that you’re going to have to make time for this thing or it won’t happen. So you work out when you might begin and gear up for a start date but find that other life stuff keeps dragging you away from it. You push it back a week…. then another…. and another.

Then that little voice stars to kick in…. hang on, doing this thing means I have to actually commit to starting something. Or even worse, commit to following through on something! If I start it, and invest in it, I have to do it. And if I’m going to do it, I have to do it well or else what’s the point….. and if I start it but don’t follow through, I’ll feel like I’ve failed. And if I follow it through but find I’m actually crap at it, then it was a waste of time and I’ve failed. And what if people find out I’ve started this and they expect me to follow it through AND do well at it…. Oh no, that’s way too much pressure….. I’m not ready for that. No, it’s too scary, too big, too much. I’m not ready yet. I’ll wait until I feel more ready…..

Cue overwhelm, procrastination and putting it off for another time. And now you’re in the fear cycle!

Because guess what?

Another time rarely comes!

Once we’ve talked ourselves out of something once, it’s easy to do it again and again. The more we talk ourselves out of it, the harder it becomes to break the cycle. And so we remain stuck in that fear > pressure > overwhelm loop that becomes self-feeding and draws us further in.

Does any of this sound familiar?

This applies to so many things in life, but for me is particularly pertinent in my art practice. You see, sometimes everything flows easily, I don’t have to think about what I’m making, my brain disconnects and allows my deeper self to take over. Those moments of intuitive creating are magical – the flow, the ease, the pleasure, the total and utter connection to what I’m doing and being completely in the moment. Those times are amazing!

Other times though that annoying little voice gets in the way. The one I describe above who insists on breaking that magical spell and brings you crashing back to a more frustrating and challenging reality.

THAT is when we are in danger of entering the fear cycle and getting swamped by all the excuses and procrastinations that will block our creativity and have us stall in our endeavours.

So, what if it didn’t have to be that hard? What if you could break the cycle and turn it instead into a positive cycle of fun > energising > more please?!

The big question here of course is HOW to break that cycle! What steps can you take to move yourself from the negative loop to the positive one? How on earth do you start and which point in the cycle do you endeavour to break?

First, take action – any action – to break your paralysis. In the case of creativity, pull out a notebook and jot down some ideas, sketch something, doodle, finger paint….. anything that gets you DOING the thing.

Next, take the pressure off yourself! Do you really have to complete if you start? Does it really have to be perfect? Do you really need to please others?

Finally, don’t try and do it alone. I can’t emphasise this enough. Tying to get yourself out of a hole is not the easiest way forward. I find time after time that I make so much more progress when I’m working with somebody. A person or group to bounce ideas off, ask for help, get guidance and accountability, be my cheerleaders. All this without expectation or judgement!

If you’ve decided 2019 is the year you honour your creative self, take those first steps on your art journey and commit to nurturing that part of you then I’d love to help you.

If you like what I do, please support me!

© Natalie Day 2019

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