Capture Your Creativity - Step 2: Face Your Fears

In my last post, I talked about the first step that I took in my journey to Capture My Creativity.  Step 1 was "Tune In"  Today I want to talk about Step 2:  Face Your Fears.  This topic isn't usually much fun to talk about.  Many people will do anything to avoid their fears.  But if I have learned anything this past year on my journey to creative recovery it is this:  In order to break through the barriers and claim the life you want, you have to do the things that you fear the most.  

Joseph Campbell said it:  “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.”

Steven Pressfield said it too:  “The more important a project is to your soul’s evolution, the more you’ll resist it.”

Even Ralph Waldo Emerson said it, so it must be true:  “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” 

Fear is the number one block to living your best life and Capturing Your Creativity.  It is the most significant obstacle that I had to overcome in my own journey.  It is the reason that following your passions, embracing your creativity, and living your dreams are not the path that everyone chooses.  If you are not following your passions, fear is probably the reason. If you are not acting on your deepest desires, fear is probably the reason.  If you are not following through with the projects that you start, fear is probably the reason.  If you never find the time to even start new projects, fear is probably the reason.  If you feel stuck and just want to expand your horizons, but don’t know where to start… guess what?!  It is most likely FEAR that is holding you back. 

In my own journey, I have had to face a lot of fears.  I finally got to a point where facing my fears was less scary than not facing them and having to live with the fact that I hadn’t even tried.  That was too much to bear.  My hope is that it hasn’t taken you guys quite so long to figure this out.  I’m a really late bloomer in the following your passion department, but at least I finally got there! 

A few of the things that terrified the crap out of me for years:  Writing a blog.  Sitting down and actually painting instead of just sitting around thinking about it.  Submitting my writing to a publication.  Submitting my artwork to a juried show.  Taking the next step in my career.  But over the past year I have done each and every one of those things, and guess what?  I survived!  Not all of my efforts have been successful, but I’ve learned that the outcome is far less important than the simple act of DOING IT.  Sure, my efforts may bomb some (or most) of the time.  My artwork may not be accepted.  My writing may be rejected.   But that is not my concern.  My concern is DOING THE WORK.  I am responsible for moving through my fear, committing to my work, and delivering the best product that I am capable of at that point in time. 

So what can we do about this ugly thing called fear.  All of us have it.  It is mean and nasty and doesn’t leave anyone out.  Some of us may not recognize it as fear… we may label it as indifference.  (“I’m way to busy and important to spend time being creative.  I don’t have time for such frivolities).  We may label it as anger. (“I can’t believe my boss is making me work overtime again!  That jerk, guess I won’t get to work on my project this weekend”)  We may label it as frustration.  (“My life is never going to amount to anything.  It’s hopeless, why even bother!”)  We may even label it as jealousy. (“I can’t believe she is doing what I want to do… I could do it so much better!) but all of those emotions really boil down to fear.  We are scared.  Scared that our projects won’t pan out.  Scared that our work won’t be accepted by others.  Scared that our work will be accepted by others and we’ll have to work harder to keep up our success.  Scared that we’ll run out of ideas.  Scared that we are a fraud.

What I found to be so ironic though is that once I decided to act on my ideas and desires and follow my passions and I finally faced the fears of doing so… it was not really that scary.  Once I got to the other side, I realized that there had really never been anything to fear.  That’s the deal with fear… it tricks you into believing that you are not enough just as you are.  It makes you believe that you need to do or be or achieve MORE before you can be happy.  Fear tells you that you need more experience or better connections or more talent.  But you don’t.  You have all you need right now.

For those of you stuck in limbo, not taking action on your passions, on your genius ideas, or just feeling kind of stuck, I challenge you to just do it.  Just face your fears head on and I guarantee you…Your creativity is waiting for you… just beyond your fear.

Must Read for "Face Your Fears":  The War of Art and Turning Pro both by Steven Pressfield and Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck.

Next time I'll talk about Step 3:  Get Real (And Start Where You Are).

See you then!

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo Credit:  © Raywoo | Dreamstime.com

 

Capture Your Creativity - Step 1: Tune In

I introduced my new series on Capturing Your Creativity on Monday, so without further ado, lets talk about the first step that I took and that must be taken if you are going to fulfill your dreams, live your purpose, and reclaim your creativity- Step 1:  Tune In.

What do I mean by "Tune In"?  It's simple, you have to start listening to yourself.  You know, that still small voice down deep inside that you have been ignoring for years.  That flash of intuition that you shrug off, only to realize later that it was spot on.  That sensation in your body that you will do anything to numb.  Illness, anxiety, stress - they are all trying to tell us something but we just don't listen. 

But - if we are going to live the life that we truly want, one that fulfills us and allows us to experience our true purpose and creativity, then we have to find a way back to ourselves.  We have to wake up and stop living in denial.  It is essential that we determine the difference - once and for all - between what we think we want or think we should want and what our hearts actually desire.

Some of us have repressed our inner voice for so long that it may take some coaxing for our intuition and higher selves to reveal themselves to us.  There are several techniques that can aid in this process.  What I personally did to connect with my inner wisdom is write in a journal every day.  This process took some discipline at first, but now it is invaluable to me and my creative recovery and I would be lost without it.  Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, calls this journaling practice the "Morning Pages".  She requires all of her students to complete the pages every single day of their training.  Morning Pages are just stream of consciousness writing, usually 2 or 3 pages, and should be done by hand.  They do not have to be grammatically correct, sound good, or even make sense.  You just write what is on your mind, as it comes to you, therefore creating a channel from your higher self to the paper.  Sometimes you will be amazed by the insight that it reveals.  And when you look back at these pages over an extended period of time, patterns start to emerge.  You start to see exactly where your issues are... exactly where you are stuck. 

Julia Cameron also recommends what she calls "The Artist's Date" as a technique for Tuning In.  This is just a time that you set aside each week to fill your creative self with inspiration.  It could be a trip to a museum or a thrift store, or going to see a movie, or whatever inspires you.  The point is that you can't be creative if your tank is empty.  We as creative individuals need to keep our inspiration tanks full.  You never know when that one image or scene or idea will be exactly what you need, so you have to stay stocked with a constant supply. 

Another way to Tune In is through meditation.  I used to think that meditation was hokey and new age, but after getting into a regular practice, I now know that it is extremely beneficial and life changing.  There are obviously countless ways to meditate, but what has worked best for me is just sitting still with myself and my body and actually paying attention to how I feel.  It is a time to stop the constant stream of nonsense that is running through our brains 24/7 and experience the present moment.

Tuning In can also involve looking to your past for insight.  What did you love to do as a child?  maybe you played sports constantly when you were a kid but you haven't hit the field in decades.  Does the feeling of holding a ball, or an instrument or a paint brush feel like home to you?  Just because you're 20 years older now doesn't mean that you can't still connect to that passion that you once had.  If you're feeling like something is missing but you don't know what it is, why not start with what you loved to do as a child.  Even if that activity itself is a dead end, it could lead to something else that you hadn't even thought of.  When I was younger, I was a total nerd; perfectly content reading books and drawing pictures and writing stories.  I didn't really know that those were my passions, that is just what I loved to do.  I realized how significant this was one night while unpacking some books at our previous house.  I found several old journals from when I was 10, 11, 12 years old.  It was heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time, taking that trip down memory lane.  Those journals were filled with stories that I had written, and outlines for books, and descriptions of characters.  And I talked about how I wished that I could just spend more time reading and writing and drawing because that's all I really wanted to do.  And what I realized in that moment was... those are still the things that I really want to do!  I was blown away by the consistency of those passions throughout my life.  But what is really ridiculous is that I didn't do those things for years, all along knowing that something was missing but not being able to figure out what it was.  Looking to the past, and stumbling upon those old journals helped me make that connection and find my way home.

Whether you choose to start a journaling practice, or meditate, or go back to an activity that you loved as a child, you must figure out a way to listen to what your heart is telling you to do.  It always knows best.

Do you have other ways of "Tuning In"?  What has worked for you?  Please share, I'd love to hear other opinions on this subject!

Must Read for "Tuning In"The Artist's Way and The Right to Write both by Julia Cameron

Next time I'll talk about Step 2:  Face Your Fears.

See you then!

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  © Dirima | Dreamstime.com

Are You a Writer?

Many years ago, I had a conversation with a random guy at a bar.  It was one of those special conversations that allows you to see things in a different way, one that makes you question some things that you have never thought to question before, one of those conversations that changes everything.

 We were talking about our passions in life and I was telling him about my cakes and my addiction to journaling and he said “So you’re a writer?”  Well, no, not really, I just write in my journal a lot.  “So you write?”  Well, yes, but only in a journal.  “Then you’re a writer.”  This conversation has really stuck with me over the years, and I think about this concept a lot. 

Am I a writer?  Am I an architect or an artist for that matter?  What makes one qualified to claim a title?  I feel comfortable claiming that I am an architect because I have put in my time and passed the state licensing exams.  But a writer?  Maybe I don’t feel qualified because I don’t have any formal training, or because I haven’t had anything published or been paid to write.  Its the same with art.  I have a minor in art, and a degree in graphic design, but I still feel a little weird calling myself an artist.  But here’s the thing:  I feel driven to write and to create art.  I know that whatever comes along in life, I will continue to participate in those activities no matter what.  I will find a way, I will work it in – whether or not I get paid for it – because I have to.  When I don’t write and when I don’t create art something is missing and I’m  not completely myself.  So, which is more qualifying:  getting paid to do something, or knowing in your soul that you have to do it?

I’ve been a closet writer for a very long time, filling thumb drives with more crap than anyone would ever care to read.  But I finally got to a point where I realized that I had to start putting myself out there.  I had to get this out.  I was about to explode.  So I started my blog, and I’m starting to submit my writing to various publications as opportunities arise.  I realized very recently that I finally have something to write about.  I have gone through a lot of crap and figured a lot of stuff out through my writing.  And it’s pretty ironic that the very things that I have figured out through writing are the things that I feel the need to share…my struggle with finding my place in this world, my journey to loving and accepting myself as I am, my search for my purpose in life.  Those very struggles are what have given me something to write about.  I had a major aha moment when I realized this.  Every single trial, obstacle, problem, and painful situation that I have ever encountered were really just God giving me something to write about.  I love this.  What problems are you encountering right now?  Try to realize that they are gifts.  God is giving you something to write / sing / paint / whatever about.  Whatever it is that you do will inevitably have a deeper meaning and a stronger impact on others after you have crawled through the trenches and emerged on the other side and can share what you have learned.  It will carry your blood, sweat and tears; it will have a part of your soul and your struggle in it.  And others will connect with that, because they will recognize their own journey in it.

© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I have a Dream! (or ten)

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I have so many different interests and passions that I feel mildly schizophrenic most of the time.  Seriously, I wish that you guys could spend a day in my head, its like a game of ping pong… constantly jumping from one idea to the next to the next.  It’s exhausting!  So I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately about how to narrow down my focus to one or two things and I keep getting stuck on WHICH passion to choose.

 As I’m thinking through these things, I keep coming across quotes and discussions of fear.  And I’m not talking about the kind of fear I feel when I am in danger.  This is the kind that keeps me stuck in old patterns, the fear that holds me back, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown.  I have been a self-help junkie for many, many years, and in all of my reading and searching for answers, I have never gotten this specific message about fear… until now.  Weird.  So here are several of the quotes that I came across in literally a week’s time:

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.”  Joseph Campbell

“Nervousness surrounding what I want to do is a good sign.”

“The more important a project is to your soul’s evolution, the more you’ll resist it.” Steven Pressfield

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” Mary Ferguson

“He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ok, Ok, I get it already!  So I asked myself:  which passions create the most fear for you right now?  Well, writing stuff that others will actually read scares the crap out of me, and the thought of committing to creating some paintings for the first time in 10 years makes me break out into a cold sweat.  Ok, there’s my answer!

So what creates the most fear for you?  Will you do it already?!  I have finally accepted that that feeling of fear is a sure sign that something good is going to come from the thing that creates it.  What a cool way to think about something that could otherwise be so paralyzing.  Good Luck!