Surrender to resistance and create, even if you’re not feeling it. I’ve been talking with friends about creativity lately and how difficult it is to surrender to resistance and sustain the enthusiasm once you get your juices flowing. The dilemma of the creative process — especially for artists — is that we impose pressure on ourselves. Our mindset narrows and tells us we need to paint impressive, or at least good paintings. They must be meaningful and grab the observer at first glance. And what if they are none of those things? That’s when self-doubt, fear, and discouragement seep in like poison – self-generated and self-perpetuated. That’s resistance. It is the enemy within and will assume any form to deceive us. Resistance is a lier.  

So how do we stay on the ever-winding path even when not feeling it? How do we get free of the energy whose aim is to distract me, preventing me from doing my work? It’s real. I can’t see, touch, hear, or smell it. Resistance is felt. 

As creatives, we can learn to recognize and navigate resistance and let it guide us to that next calling or action that we are to follow. 

What stirs my creative juices up and what stirs yours up may not be the same. Over time, I’ve understood that I can’t transmit what I don’t have. The one thing I have found true from creative to creative is that what is within is without. If I lack understanding and feel blocked, I need to go within. Yet I will get caught up in the vicious cycle of being focused on the outcome and forget that my answers are in the process or experience.

Once the awareness comes, I use easy, non-invasive methods to get past what’s holding me back and reconnect with my inner self, like doodling. Visual journaling with doodles. Sometimes I just don’t have the words or know what’s going on. Yet something happens when I put the pen or pencil to paper and let go. Just be in the experience. This is how you can surrender to resistance and create.

So next time you find yourself stuck in the unrealistic pursuit of thinking every painting must be a masterpiece or every creation should be prize-worthy, stop it. That’s resistance. You’re blocking your creative process. Remember that’s what it is — a process. Creativity is a process. A practice, you must press on with the creative practice even if you aren’t in the mood. Especially when you’re not feeling it. 

In the long run, we do better by letting resistance show us the block, by continuing to fight and forge through the cycles of uninspired and passionless “forced creation” inevitably proves the juice is worth the squeeze.

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