I have been working on a creative project that is well beyond my comfort zone. It is a project that has taken hours of time. Thought. Creativity. Leaps of faith. Some days I love it. Other days I think it is garbage. But I continue to plod along on this creative endeavor that feels much larger than anything else I have ever done.
My brain is very good at trying to stop me from finishing this project. This is the same brain that is working on the creative project (can’t we all be on the same team??). It recognizes this is a stretch. It knows when I am nervous or scared or anxious about taking creative chances that are not quite comfortable.
My brain has many different ways to stop me from doing work and putting the project aside until I gain the insight or strength to push onward. “That’s really no good,” it might tell me, “delete it. Delete it. Delete it now.” I almost did once but luckily I had someone who recommended I send it to them first.
“People will laugh. Or people will not like the work. Or people will be mad. Or people will make fun of you.,” says my brain. Yes, they might do all those things. But perhaps you should finish the project and send it out into the world and see what people actually think (not just make guesses).
“You don’t know enough yet. This project will have mistakes. You will know more in five years. Then you can do a better job on this. You will make mistakes and 5-years-from-now-you will know sooo much more. Wait until then.” Oh, okay, well that sounds rational… I can wait…. Yes, in five years I should know more.
What?!?! 5-years-from-now-me will know more!?!? Oh brain, you are good. But…
Have you ever experienced this? Has your brain ever hijacked your progress? Have you found yourself stuffing that project you worked so hard on into a box and pretending you never did it in the first place? I know full well this is “lizard brain” or “monkey brain” or many other names for this primitive protection that is supposed to stop me from being eaten by a tiger. But really brain, really… five-years-from-now-me will do better? That’s a good one. But work on I shall (at least for today).
If I were my own best friend and I was working on a project (that I really loved working on but I felt anxious about because it felt so far outside of my comfort zone) I would cheer myself on to the finish. I would sit my brain down and have a little “talk” about what is okay and what is not okay. For example, it is not okay to tell myself to not do something because in five years I will do better. Will I? No one knows that. All you have is right now, today. here. And you have to start somewhere (despite thinking future-you might do a better job). So come on brain, come on over to the “you’ve got this” and “we can do this” side.
And now I am going to publish this. But my brain is telling me five-months-from-now-me will know more about this situation and will write something better. My brain says I should save a draft and not publish. Come back to it later. Hmmm. Apparently I need to keep having a little talk with my brain about what is and is not okay.
If you are like me and working on something creative, but sometimes you get in your own way, I encourage you to keep going. One step, one page, one painting, one note, one word, one moment at a time. Keep going.