(warning: Mixed metaphors, goofy visuals and tiny sermons all at work to help you move forward – read with an open heart.)
Clutter may seem like a badge of honor that screams…
“ I’M AN ARTIST… a free bird, I don’t follow rules, I break them and proud of it! HU-rah!”
It’s often even socially accepted as a sign of a creative type – but in reality… it’s the biggest toad on your head. (Nice image? Try to feel it – the weight of that big toad – not so nice.)
Let’s call clutter what it is: A mess, confusion, disarray, jumble, heap, distraction.
But underneath the distraction of clutter are the true causes of interrupted creative expression. Let’s expose them:
Clutter is what feeds procrastination. (Let’s call procrastination, Jabba the Hut).
Procrastination is the most direct method of self-sabotage and distraction of your creative energy. So many of us struggle with it and can’t seem to get past it because it’s hiding something else that’s painful. If procrastination went away, we’d have to face that thing that’s hiding – and that thing is guilt.
Guilt is why you feel stuck in the pattern of procrastinating. Guilt is painful and binding and causes you to feel like you’ve got a huge flaw and that you’ll never get out of the cycle. Procrastination covers the pain of guilt by diverting your attention away from it.
So it’s really a self-defense strategy to protect you from the pain of feeling guilty, but at the same time, it’s stopping you from moving forward and truly being free and living as a vibrant creative.
Continuing going in that cycle may insure that you’re saved from the pain of the moment, but what about the longterm? What about the pain of not realizing your dreams, of regrets, of suppressing and not expressing?
You can step out from this cycle – If you can become aware of it and not avoid the work of letting go of the guilt and instead taking action in the face of procrastination and clearing that clutter.
Let’s go for the root of things, which in this instance is guilt. You know the saying, “To get out the weeds, you have to get out the root.” So, let’s go straight for the root of clutter (Big Toad) and procrastination (Jaba the Hut) – and let’s call guilt; Big Toad’s Cousin, Slimy Frog.
So, in our little game, Big Toad is weighing you down so you you can’t move forward and Jaba is blocking you from clearing out your old habits and draining emotions. How was Jaba vanquished in the movie? Well, Princess Leah choked him with a chain – in a bikini – so you can be a warrior artist and try that.
Now that you have visuals it’s easier to picture them outside of yourself, not something integrated, but removable (hitchhikers). These blocks are not you – they are just what you’ve used to protect yourself from the pain of not expressing.
Now let’s move forward and jump off this metaphor shall we? Get Big Toad off your head, choke Jaba out and peel Slimy Frog off of your heart.
Jump in, get messy and clear them out!
Things often get messier before they get cleaner.
As we just discovered, the first step to clear out the clutter is to let go of the guilt. You may be holding on to guilt about things you don’t even recognize yet, but for now, simply say something like,
“In this moment, I let go of the guilt I feel about this mess…”
If you get through this moment, do some inner or outer clearing, then don’t do it again for a week – or longer – don’t give in to guilt, just come back to it and try again.
Life moves and shifts constantly. As you move with it and begin to pay attention to your nudges to express, to create, to live and grow, all of it bubbles up to be noticed and released – like fizz in a champagne bottle – it will loosen the hitchhikers in the shadows. Keep it corked and those hitchhikers may burst out in a more destructive way.
Some other common hitchhikers are perfectionism, procrastination, complaining, giving to much, obsessing, addictions (work included) fear of failure, fear of the unknown and suppressed emotions (anger, frustration, guilt, sadness or hurt).
Does this sound like fun? Not likely. Which is why most people know all of this intellectually, but shove it down to avoid actually doing the work.
Here’s the kicker. You’re an artist. Don’t look behind you, silly. You. Right there. So…
It’s your purpose to express and your job to clear things out so that your expressing is clear.
Even if you have yet to claim the title or struggle with fully owning it – or you own it, but you can’t call that client or finish that piece – or are even considering dropping the title because of some milestone or dollar amount you haven’t reached.
Even if all that’s true – you’re here, in this space for artists – reading this so … welcome! Welcome to the simple truth of who you are and to what I believe is the most important role on the planet.
You have the best and the toughest job of all time: You are a portal of creation, of peace, of expression. Your job is to open up and let it out. To shine in your own brilliant way. Your art may be creating visual work, it may be serving others or it may show up as a combination of all kinds of things, but you’ve got to show up and let it out.
Don’t let that ego trip you up like you’re going to change the world with one piece or you may be still staring at the blank canvas in 10 years. Just express what you’ve got today and shine.
Here’s another little visual: Doesn’t matter what holidays you celebrate – you’ve seen Christmas lights on a tree, right? The whole strand is lit up and and beautiful and then one little light is out – what happens? Celebrations cease and everyone is running around trying to fix that one little light because… it makes all the difference.
That little light is YOU. Important. Everything stalls to get each little light going strong before full celebrations, full joy, full peace on earth can begin.
The light on the strand, the voice in the choir, come on – you’re not dead are you? No! You’re alive! So be grateful and act like it!
If you’re worried about competition, competition is a farce – not one artist is like you. Competition only comes when you are mimicking or trying to fit in.
Now it’s time to get fierce. Set your mind firmly on easing old habits up and out. Ready?
All this means is that If you choose to step forward and claim your creative being, it involves taking responsibility for your creative doing – which means addressing your mess – your inner and outer mess.
If you’re not ready to do that today, stop reading this. Come back tomorrow and try again.
Still here? Okay, you’re on the threshold of some messy, uncomfortable, potentially scary stuff, but there’s a bottle of life energy and champagne on the other side of it.
Start here. Sit still for a moment:
- The first messy part is accepting where you are right now. Sounds easy when it’s in your head, but sit still. Let your heart watch what clouds your thoughts, makes you feel a sense of panic because you’re simply sitting. Pay attention with how your thoughts make your body feel. Deep breaths help.
- That thing that makes you panic because you’re not doing it… is bubbling up as guilt number one.. to release.
- Allow yourself to feel the guilt of the clutter in your life. Let it rise up and out.
- Trust yourself.
- Accept the small victories. Take 10 minutes and do one step today toward your clutter or project.
There are no rules – whether it takes you 10 years or 10 minutes, if you keep listening and letting loose of habits that you are done with – all of the hitchhikers – they will bubble up and out and you will easily and naturally begin to show up as your true self, your unique voice will bubble up and your brilliance will shine out bright and strong.
The sad thing is that it’s such a simple process that most don’t actually do it. You probably already know this – in your head. But have you practiced it? Done the work?
As you release guilt, tackle clutter like you would brushing your teeth – simply a task to work through – with no heavy emotions.
As you stop suppressing and start expressing, you will find your rhythm, you will find your style, your strength, your energy, your brilliance.
Uncork that champagne vision each time you pay attention and do the work, it’s okay if it bubbles over – or simply whispers, enjoy the fruits of your attention, of your stillness and get ready come alive!
Thanks for reading. If you know of someone this post might help today, please share.