How to Overcome the #1 Obstacle to Your Creativity...

Our creativity is a powerful force of nature that is constantly moving through us. This energy powers not just our creative work, but everything we do, and it informs the way we see the world. We can engage with it as much or as little as we choose, but it needs to flow freely in order for us to do our best work. Right now, in your life, there is an obstacle to your creativity. Feel it? It's just sitting there, blocking your path, sucking up air and light like a bad-ass black hole. This obstacle is unrelenting, and it will continue its nasty business until you decide you're not going to take it anymore.

The greatest obstacle to your creativity is the issue that you've been neglecting to attend to in your life, outside of your creative work. Is it a recurring health problem? An antagonistic relationship? A regret about something from the past that sabotages your present? Or is it a secret dark belief about yourself that needs to be transformed? Look around for the one thing that feels completely stuck, or out of your control. You might have a feeling of dread when you think about this issue, and your body might tense involuntarily. Or you might run toward a distraction, something to take your mind off it. Maybe you've told yourself that this issue will never be resolved, and you're locked in with it forever. You can make this choice, but understand that it will directly effect the flow of your creativity. 

How does this dynamic play out, exactly? Just think back to that image of the black hole. Consciously or unconsciously, you're using your full creative powers to manage the ongoing issue, and it feeds off that energy like crazy! Even if you've been completely ignoring the issue, the energy required to willfully ignore something so huge is intense. Don't you want to take that power back? 

To be clear, artists and creative people often face giant obstacles to our creativity that have to do with basic survival, and the issue of time vs money. Most of these are external issues that we may not have much control of. Fortunately there are some ways that we can take charge of our life and our work. As we strive to overcome what's in front of us and keep moving forward, we can learn to take better care of ourselves, collaborate with others, market our work effectively, and take time to observe significant milestones in our progress. We can teach others how to love art as much as we do, and learn from those who came before us, and let go of limiting paradigms that no longer serve us. We can also take charge of our own creative process, and seek out fresh inspiration to keep us going. These are actions we can all take form the inside out, and they will serve us well. But we're talking about your particular issue, the one that is so persistent that it may have become part of your very identity. This is the one that needs your full might to overcome. Put your back into this job, and you will reap tremendous rewards. 

Here are 5 steps to help you overcome your greatest obstacle:

1) Ask yourself what you're getting out of your issue

  • Define the exact issue and the way it affects you. Now dare to be completely honest with yourself, and name the exact benefit(s) of keeping your ongoing issue around. Does it make you feel special, as if martyrdom elevates your sense of self? Are you grateful for the distraction from the powerful art you could be making? Does your issue prevent you from facing hard questions about the state of your art, and what your artistic future looks like? Is it a convenient way to avoid moving forward with your art and life? Or are you convinced that you can't make art without the tension of your issue informing your creative process? Think again! This is a dangerous myth that only serves to prevent you from doing exactly what you claim to want most: live a fully creative life. In any case, facing up to your shadow feelings will illuminate the necessary changes that need to be made. 

2) Ask yourself what it would FEEL like to be free of it

  • Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and think about your issue. What kind of emotion comes up when you think about releasing it? Does your body feel less tense, or your heart more open? You might feel shaky, tearful, or giddy. Take full stock of your feelings, both physical and emotional. Are you suddenly flooded with daydreams about new creative avenues for your art? Or do you simply see yourself getting a full night's sleep and facing each day with full clarity and purpose? Write down how your life and work will be different without this obstacle, and keep track of it you go forward through your process.

3) Tell a trusted friend or loved one about the issue

  • Who do you know and trust enough to share this process with? Chose wisely: someone who loves your work and believes in you can help keep you accountable to your goal of releasing and resolving your issue. Let this person know what's going on, and ask them to be part of your process. They will play a big part in your new post-issue paradigm and the way you will be living your life and making your work from now on. Treasure this person and let them know how valuable they are. Remember to thank them, and offer to do the same for them should they need it. 

4) Identify 10 resources to help you resolve your issue

  • You're a highly creative and resourceful person! Who and what can you turn to for help with your issue? Ask trusted friends and family for names of professionals who can guide your process (or just gather wisdom and counsel from people you know). Read as much as you can about your issue, and find examples of people who have resolved their own. Research current solutions for your issue, and find out who the leading figures are in that world. Read their works and case studies. Make a list of 10 action steps you can take to resolve your issue, and visualize yourself taking each one. This is your action plan.

5) Set a date for resolving the issue and stick to it

  • Time to put your plan into action! Pick a completion date that feels realistic, but don't wait too long (more than 6 weeks is too much time, unless there are special circumstances). Remember: your issue is not necessarily a problem that has to be solved (although with neglected health issues it is often the case that we DO need to take that approach, or risk a terrible worsening of the problem). Resolution and release are the goal, and this could mean a simple (though not easy!) paradigm shift in the way you approach your issue, and the effect it has on your life and art. You may even feel fresh creative energy start to flow right away, as you let go of your attachment to the issue and begin to move forward with your plan. Take time to note and celebrate each step, and reward yourself with something magical when you're all done.