At some point every artist, every person, encounters resistance.
In fact, I am facing resistance even now as I try to write this. Just a peek on facebook here, another distraction there. Call it writer’s block or maybe it’s self-doubt. But plainly put, it just comes down to resistance. Anything stopping us from doing our work, from creating our art.
And it’s happening all the time.
Creation really is a war sometimes. A battle between what you want to accomplish and all those tiny little blockages occurring over and over, preventing you from attaining the end goal. Getting out of bed. Simply putting pen to paper. Treating your body well. Taking time to quiet your mind. Silencing the voice inside telling you you’re just not good enough. We’ve all fought with resistance at one time or another.
So how does one win this battle?
First, I think it’s important to clearly define your art. What is it you are trying to create? What is your intention? What is your motive? What is your goal? What is your medium?
I thought hard about this on the 45-minute drive from my parents house to Cody today.
I spent some time there doing chores, tending the garden, playing with the animals, baking bread and pie, basically resting after a fun working weekend in Montana. I photographed a beautiful wedding in Livingston of a sculptor and a bullfighter, madly in love! And being in an environment full of artists sparked so much inspiration to create, to pursue creative professionalism, to really get serious about myself as an artist.
But it doesn’t feel quite right to call myself a professional photographer. Because to me, that’s not what I believe myself to be. And although I love cooking and will be pursuing that more seriously, I don’t consider myself a professional cook either.
Of all my various interests and so-called talents, I can’t seem to master and pursue just one of them and this indecisiveness drives me mad!
So what kind of artist do I consider myself to be? What exactly is my art?
My art is living, itself. My intention is to make my life a masterpiece. My goal is to make everyday affairs from meals to conversations to the way my living space is decorated into works of art. My medium is anything directly in front of me that I can manipulate. And this manifestation is done by mindful living. By making all things a sacred ritual. By taking each task of my day as it comes, and filling it with the intention to make it as beautiful and as full of loving presence as I can.
Now that you have defined your art, it’s time to define your resistance. What stops you from finishing your projects? What gets in the way of doing your work? What thoughts continue to come up deterring you from progress?
In the pursuit of mindful, artful living, I constantly battle with impulsiveness. I forget to be intentional with what I am doing. I cling to poor habits. I get distracted and caught up in my own mental dramas. I face self-doubt about my abilities. I struggle with shame and the fear that I am not good enough, not doing enough, not living how everyone else seems to be living – how society tells me I should be living – so much that it freezes all forward motion.
And I too easily dismiss my belief that every single moment of our lives and every single person encountered is absolutely divine, so uniquely special and deserving of my full attention no matter what.
Lastly, what are the methods you can use to overcome your resistance?
Routine. As much as I kinda sorta despise it, I do believe there to be many benefits of having at least a few routine things to do each day. Whether it’s as simple as drinking a glass of lemon water first thing upon rising, or writing at a certain time each day, or eating meals regularly… when you have some semblance of structure, it allows all the inconsistencies of life to flow more smoothly.
Breathing. Taking time to stop and breathe before doing anything unfailingly sets me up for success. It slows me down. It connects me with my intention. It brings clarity of mind and calmness of spirit.
Surrounding myself with inspiration. Just a simple reminder like a quote on my mirror or desktop background is often enough to give me motivation. Surrounding myself with people who uplift and support me is crucial. Writing down and regularly revisiting my intentions and goals and dreams is a must.
Effort. Even if it’s a mess, even if what I try to create is absolute junk, I still find simply trying to be better than nothing at all. Practice. Practice. Practice. A little effort can turn your habits into constructive ones. A little effort can at least make you feel accomplished. A little effort day after day does add up quicker than you might let yourself believe.
And finally, doing things I know will make me feel better instead of doing things I know will make me feel worse. Sounds too simple, but it’s easy for me to get caught up in a cycle of mindless behaviors that don’t serve me. And all along, I think to myself – “if I would just practice yoga or go for a hike or drink some water or eat vegetables, I know I would feel better and be more productive.” Perpetuating behaviors that make me feel poorly is undoubtedly one of the most toxic forms of resistance I face.
The only thing we can do day after day is wake up, get out of bed and simply try our best at whatever it is we are currently pursuing in life. Whether your art is writing or painting or cooking or sculpting or teaching or growing food or raising a family or simply living, you can overcome resistance and create astounding works of art.
You can live the life you imagine.
You can make your dreams your reality.
You can, and you will.
So keep your dreams big, your imagination wild, and your art the most important pursuit.