I’m not sure if you know Maryann. I mention her kind of a lot.
She’s one of the most thoughtful and worth-listening-to people I know.
Anyway, yesterday on Facebook she put out the question:
When you feel discouraged about your art or your business, what helps you keep going?
And there I was scribbling down all sorts of things in response.
Not because I’m a weird genius, but because ohmygod I get discouraged all the time. This is a part of my experience that I am achingly familiar with.
This is not advice.
Experience is so individual. That’s the ever-useful People Vary principle. And at the same time, we’re all in this together.
So my intention is not to tell you what to do/think/feel in times of discouragement.
It’s more the hope that something about this will spark your knowing about all the things that are true for you. And that this remembering of what works for you will be as useful to you as writing this down has been for me.
Some of what I know about discouragement. Starting points.
Reading notes of appreciation in my Box of Wonderful Things People Have Said.
Dancing. Remembering that growth is exponential, that beginnings take time and that you can never see all the progress while it’s underground.
Also: I’m constantly reminding myself that getting discouraged about business, art and creative-expression is normal.
It’s heavy identity stuff happening. Of course sometimes I’ll feel discouraged.
There’s nothing like having a good cry.
And bouncing on the tiny trampoline.
Sometimes I like to think about past clients and students, and the beautiful things they have accomplished.
Here’s a useful thing that is always reassuring to remember:
Seeing our own radiance is pretty much impossible.
Taking a bath. Running away. Getting offline. Going to the Playground. Getting a burst of color. Popsicle stick permission slips. Roller Derby. Singing sea songs. Hiding.
I remind myself of what I want to remember.
I remember that there are people who live congruently — they live according to what they want, what they know and how they want to be.
And not in some high-powered Donald Trump-ian way, but with simplicity and grace.
And I have met some of these people: I know them.
I tune into unlikely sources of support.
The unexpected internal resources and deep reserves of strength that I always forget about.
And I list all the times that support did come. Or it was there but I was tripping over it.
As well as the reasons that now is not then, and why things can in fact be better, different and less painful this time around.
Without forcing gratitude (because aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh), I look for non-obvious sources of support to lean into: oxygen, gravity, the way trees just stand there full of power.
Then there’s the part about context.
Is this bout of losing the faith at all related to hormonal stuff? Weather stuff? Time of year? The memory of an awful thing from then?
Could it be triggered by External Crap (tragedies and catastrophes, recent political events, someone else’s stuff)?
More often than not, there’s a lot of gunk that is not mine sneaking into my space and holding a dance party there. That part is not mine. That’s mine. Not mine.
Speaking of dance parties…
Turn out all the lights. Put on some 80s music. And dance up a storm.
That pretty much always helps — for me. And it’s not that this makes me feel better about business or artistic endeavors. It’s about coming back inside of what’s important to me:
Body, rhythm, pulse, breath, patterns, structure, form, possibility, flow.
And of course, as much mad flailing as possible.
Arts and crafts. Construction paper and magic markers.
Yesterday I went to the Bolivia post because a bunch of you referenced it, and you know what?
Seeing two hundred and thirty eight comments, and the level of self-inquiry and kindness there…. it amazes me. I find it completely astounding that a topic so painful and so controversial — discussed on the internet — didn’t turn into a total troll-fest or an angry fight. We may have even accidentally screwed with Godwin’s Law, the most true thing in the known universe.
Mostly though, I go to the Book of Me.
That’s my version of the Book of You, and where all this useful information belongs. And where I’m going to put this as soon as I finish writing.
Discouragement is such a ridiculously huge topic that I kind of wish I could give it an entire chapter, but even just a sticky note about three things to try or one reassuring truth to remember. It all helps.
And even if I don’t remember, or I don’t record the information I’ve collected about myself and my process, something about the act of noticing is strengthening the neural pathways of exiting the land of discouragement.
So everything counts. It all helps me to feel more at home in those less familiar parts of my internal kingdom.
Can we collect more ideas? And comment zen for today.
What do you know about discouragement and what has helped you come back from it or interact with it?
I would love to keep adding ideas to the pile. Please share.
As always, people vary. And nonviolence wins. We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process.
We let people have their own experience and we don’t tell them what to do.
We own that whatever we give people is our take on something, not fact.
“Something I personally find useful…” versus “This is what you need to do.”
That’s it. Love to everyone who reads. Hugs for the hard, because this is hard. Huge appreciation for Maryann, who keeps writing about everything I want to read.
p.s. Thank you, WordPress, for showing me something I had completely forgotten: that I already wrote a post on this very topic titled On Discouragement eleven months ago. I am hilarious.