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Issue 45

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In this issue ~~

* Inner Resistance

* Creative Tip

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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Inner Resistance

In the course of our busy lives, even though we may enjoy what we're doing, there come times when some part of us wants to put on the brakes. We suddenly feel sulky and resistant and don't want to do what we feel needs to be done. We may keep trying to force ourselves, but it becomes an inner tug-of-war. Even though we may complete our tasks, we resent that we had to make ourselves do them, much the way our parents and teachers forced us to do things when we were children.

This inner resistance most commonly occurs when you're physically, mentally and/or emotionally tired because 1) you don't like what you're doing and continually force yourself, or 2) you like what you're doing, but tend to overschedule yourself. You cruise along for awhile, pushing yourself through, perhaps thriving on the adrenaline rush and feeling a sense of accomplishment, until you feel like you've hit a wall and just can't go another step. You feel trapped by your own life.

I've come to call the parts of myself that emerge at such times my Inner Brat and Inner Rebel. The Inner Brat is whiny and sullen and wants to kick and scream. The Outer Me may even take on her characteristics and become cranky and complaining, perhaps procrastinating and dawdling with unimportant tasks. The Inner Rebel, on the other hand, digs her heels in and refuses to go another step. I may feel angry and resentful, finding ways to avoid what I've set out to do or doing them grudgingly.

One way to deal with the Inner Brat or Rebel, initially, is to give in to them. Throw yourself a "pity party." Allow yourself to kick and scream and complain – for a brief time; you don't want this to become a habit. Give yourself time to do the thing you've been dying to do, but putting off because of all the "more responsible" things you have to do. Take a day, or a week, and totally indulge yourself. If you fall into category 2 above, you'll then be able to go back to your work and do it with renewed passion.

If the Inner Brat or Rebel tends to show up fairly regularly, though, it's a signal that you'll need to take stronger action, reworking habits and patterns that aren't serving you.

~ Look at your schedule to see where you can cut back. Are you taking on more than you can handle? Many creative people have so many passions and ambitions that we find it difficult to fit them all in, and we end up including too much in our lives. We love what we're doing, but may reach a point where the pressure of getting it all in takes away our pleasure. Better to select what's most important to you now and hold the rest for the future or let some of it go.

~ Take a look at the tasks you need to do. Consciously choose that you will do them (or not). Own and take responsibility for your choices. This is important! As children, we're told what to do, and we may carry a pattern of resentment into our adult lives. But as an adult, even with a "have to" like filing your taxes, you always have a choice, albeit one with undesirable consequences. When you actively make your own choices and own them, you take yourself out of the victim role and disarm the Inner Brat.

~ Once you've narrowed down your choices, prioritize. What needs to be done today? This week? This month? Someday? Prioritize in terms of what's important to you, not just what's urgent. Put lower or later priorities on the back burner, so they're not drawing on your energy every day. Assign certain days or times for particular activities on a weekly basis, so that you're not spending time and energy agonizing over what you should be doing, and you can just get to it.

~ Pace yourself, so you're not starting something too far in advance or waiting till the last minute. On a horizontal calendar (you can also do this on an Excel spreadsheet), make timelines for the various projects you're working on, starting with each due date and working backwards, or starting from today and working forward, so you can see what truly needs to be handled at any given time. Even though you may be nervous about a future project, trust in your timeline to know when you really need to begin working on it in earnest (you can always note ideas or do prep work ahead of time).

~ Be sure to include down time and breaks in your schedule. No matter how much you love your work, you need to have a balanced life that includes time with friends, family, hobbies, self-care and some couch potato time. Taking the time to restore will enable you to accomplish your tasks more easily and quickly than suffering through them exhausted.

~ Break your routine. Give yourself permission to take a day off now and then to do whatever you want. Better to take a couple of "well days" and enjoy them than to wait until you push yourself so hard that you're forced to spend a miserable week in bed. If you can, occasionally switch your work days, for example, taking off Thursday and Friday and catching up on work over the weekend. Take vacations, even if you just stay at home and read or pursue your hobbies. This is also a good time to reflect and see what changes you might make to your life, so you're not "hitting the wall" on a regular basis.

~ If your Inner Brat is the one who shows up, use techniques on yourself that you might use on an actual child, such as "work first, play later." Schedule something fun after a task you're resisting, so you have an incentive to get the work done. Find ways to give yourself choices, even if it's which task you'll do first, to feel more in control.

~ The Inner Rebel is more like an angry teenager. Take the time to sit quietly and hear what's making that part of you angry. What can you do to remedy that?

~ If you hate what you're doing and all these remedies are just band-aids, get some books or seek out a life or career coach to help you design a life you enjoy.

Like the tides, our energies and emotions ebb and flow. There are times when we're enthused and involved and times when we need to back off a bit and renew. Allow for these, and find ways to bring more balance into your daily life, so it doesn't swing from one extreme to the other. It may be a challenge to let go of old patterns, but it's worth the effort. You'll still accomplish a lot and experience more pleasure in what you do.

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Creative Tip

When you're feeling overwhelmed and resistant, stop. Put everything you don't absolutely have to do in the next few hours (or better yet, the next day or two) on hold. Screen your calls; let your e-mail sit in the in-box. Do something that calms and nurtures your spirit: take a walk or a drive, exercise, read, see an uplifting movie, listen to soft music. Once you're calmed and centered, you'll be able to determine your priorities more clearly than when you're in the midst of mental and emotional clutter.

 

Wise Words

"Sometimes we feel so worn down by our spirit-breaking, daily grind . . . that we lack the energy and hope needed to reach our goals. The creative process makes demands on us. In and of itself, it can trigger anxiety, conflict, chronic fatigue, and even intense resistance (what I've called the Big R) – the recoil, or withdrawal of energy from obligations. When apathy or restlessness undercut our plans, the Big R is usually lurking close by."

~ Marsha Sinetar, To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love

"Abused patience turns to fury."

~ Thomas Fuller

"Priorities are not written in granite. They need to be flexible and change as we do . . . It takes peace of mind and clarity to recognize and reorder meaningful, personal priorities. Maybe that is why so many of us procrastinate."

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

"To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy."

~ Hippocrates

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Bookshelf

(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

Meditations for Living in Balance: Daily Solutions for People Who Do Too Much . . . Anne Wilson Schaef, PhD

The Dance: Moving to the Rhythms of Your True Self . . . Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Living Your Best Life: Work, Home, Balance, Destiny: Ten Strategies for Getting from Where You Are to Where You're Meant to Be . . . Laura Berman Fortgang

The Superman Complex: Achieving the Balance That Leads to True Success . . . Max L. Carey

Leverage Your Time: Balance Your Life . . . John Ingram Walker, MD

Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life . . . Richard J. Leider, David A. Shapiro

The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life . . . Robert Fritz

 

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© 2002 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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