I’ve always been an ideas person. The ideas would arrive as certain as mail dropping on the doormat. In fact, Dan always joked he’d get me a notebook with ‘The Ideas Always Come’ on the front.
Except they weren’t coming.
There’s something about being lost and blocked that feels shameful.
There’s the frustration of knowing deep in your bones that you need change but not knowing what you want and the shame of desperately trying to figure it out.
No matter how hard you try, your mind snaps shut like a clam shell. You feel the warm wash of shame and panic, looking around at everyone else and find yourself grasping at something - anything - for the discomfort to stop.
Like a kink in a hosepipe, your thoughts are restricted to a trickle and the pressure builds menacingly around the blockage.
Identifying the blockage
When the answer won’t come, the first thing I try to do is work out what the blockage is - some blockages are easier to clear than others. It could be that I don’t really know what the next steps are, so a couple of evenings set aside with a mug of coffee, Google and a notebook helps to make the way forward clearer.
If I’ve just caught a snippet of an idea, it needs a bit of time to let it percolate. It might sound counter-intuitive, but with half-formed ideas, I note them down and let my brain work on them in the background whilst I get on with something else. You’ll be surprised by what your mind will magically arrive at if you get out of its way.
Sometimes, it could be that I’m going through a creativity dry-spell. This often coincides with feeling run down, putting other people’s needs in front of my own for too long or spending a prolonged period of time doing work that requires a lot of focus. A dry-spell is a reminder to refill my creative cup.
If I’m letting an idea bubble away in the background or if I’m in need of inspiration, I turn to creative distractions. A Saturday wandering around somewhere new, a craft project, or a spot of kitchen pottering. There’s something about peeling, chopping and stirring that helps the mind to wander whilst doing something productive.
When this doesn’t work, I usually know that something else is going on.
Resistance is our subconscious reaction to change. It often shows up as procrastinating, perfecting, avoiding, delaying, distracting, over-thinking, indecision and self-doubt.
If we strip all the layers away, what we’re left with is fear and discomfort.
When we experience change, the part of our brain called the prefrontal cortex is engaged. This part of our brain processes ideas, perceptions and logistics and can only process a certain amount of data at once, so it works harder and tires quickly.
The extra processing power required by the prefrontal cortex can kickstart the feelings of discomfort controlled by the amygdala. The amygdala is the emotional part of our brain that’s responsible for our ‘fight, flight, freeze or fawn’ responses.
This neurological process is your brain’s very ancient and effective way of keeping you safe from the scary bears out in the woods, but not very helpful when you know that on the other side of change is the big, beautiful dreamy life you want to grab with both hands.
What can you do to overcome it then?
The only way is through
Like all good bear hunts, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you have to go through it. Journaling can be a good outlet to spot patterns in your thinking, work through the uncomfortable emotions associated with change and untangle your thoughts.
If you’ve tried journaling before and it doesn’t seem to work for you, you might like to consider one of my Tea and Biscuits sessions. You can pull up a chair for a cosy online chat at my kitchen table with tea and biscuits delivered to you. I’ll help you work out your first steps, draw up a plan of action with you and hand you a metaphorical permission slip to follow your dreams.
If you’d like to find out a bit more about what’s involved, you can always book in for one of my free discovery chats - no obligation or icky sales talk involved.