These past weeks my family and I have been doing a lot of cycling together. While not unusual for me to cycle a lot – I began cycling again as an adult in my late twenties I tend to stick to my comfort zone in the way that I ride. For example, my kids and my husband have a knack for cycling hands free. I’d watch enviously and wish that I could, not believing I could. I even told myself that perhaps it was a “guy thing” the way they could balance themselves so well on the bike without holding on to the handlebars (like how there are certain yoga poses I can hold that they struggle with). But I wanted to be able to do be hands free in the same way with the same ease that they had.
So I pretended to try: I took one hand off of the handle, while of course hanging on with the other hand. What if I lose my balance whispered my scared thoughts. What if I crash? What if I fall down? What if…….? And as the “what ifs” piled up, I lost the courage to really try.
Perhaps here is the other problem, the notion of “trying” instead of just doing. All too often I have noticed myself and others get caught in the “try” trap. Trying implies that there is a chance it may not happen. Trying means you are thinking about it instead of doing it. I will try to fit in more time for myself, I will try to work on my painting. I will try to try and do something . . .
Then on our way back after a long ride my youngest said to me “try riding with in hands mommy” and without thinking I let go of the handle bar and lo and behold I was able to ride steadily without holding on.
Let’s take a look at what had to happen for this to take place:
- I ignored that voice inside that said I couldn’t do it
- I acted before I could think too much about it
- I gave up the notion of “trying” and just did it.
- I took a chance.
- I listened to the voice inside that said “you can do it!”
The next day when we were out riding again. I tried and had some difficulty doing it because my mind kept telling me I was going to fall. So the other thing that holds us back is our patterns. We often behave in habitual ways. Daily routines of brushing teeth, showering etc. come easy to most of us because we have established these as daily routines. Taking care of our physical selves in these ways is somehow a given. Taking care of our emotional selves sometimes is not something as ingrained in us. It is a habit we must establish first.
Having a sustainable creative practice doesn’t just happen. We need to do several things to make it happen. We need to break old patterns or ways of doing things to make room for new ways. Here’s how:
1. Retrain our brain against the “I’can’ts” and “what ifs”. To do this we must find reasons or ourselves as to why creative practice is important. You may find it helpful to make a list of your important and motivating reasons. For me this includes:
- for release of stress
- for inner expression
- for connection with my creative side (which enhances the other things I do).
- for peace of mind.
2. Establish a set routine.
- Sometimes it helps to schedule this in after or before other parts of your day that are already set routines.
- Build it in to your day in a predictable way.
3. Make sure it is realistic.
- There is no sense in scheduling something in that you know you can’t do or sustain.
- It’s better to have some creative time once a week than not at all.
- It’s better to create a little bit every day rather than not at all because you schedule too much or too big of a chunk of time in one day.
4. Stick to the plan (doing not trying).
- Set reminders on your phone or computer if need be.
- Let others know of your “appointment” with your creative self so that you wont be interrupted or the time won’t be allotted for something else.
5. Repeat from number 1 when needed.
So not that you have read this, it’s time to implement it. Don’t wait, just act now.