Have you ever noticed that some pieces of art just seem to create themselves while others are a painful process and exhausting evolution?
I have made it a point to be more aware of both processes over the past six months and have come to realize that for me, the art that just seems to flow happens when I have “Gotten Out of My Own Way“. Funny thing…I learned this concept in the most unlikely of places: on the tennis court. But what is really amazing is that I have found it is applicable in so many areas of my life.
Getting Out of Our Own Way requires us to believe in ourselves and not question what we know; it requires us to realize when a personal truth has hit a wall of doubt because doubt inevitably turns into fear…and fear into anxiety…and anxiety into paralysis.
Because my mind is always thinking, always questioning and always visualizing, it’s not easy for me to Get Out of My Own Way. I have had to learn to push my doubting thoughts aside and ask myself “What is the worst that will happen here?” The answer is usually that I won’t like the outcome…okay, so what? Will I be devastated? No. Will I never get another offer to work as an artist? No. Will I lose a match? Maybe; but I’ve lost before and I lived to tell about it! Something will come out of what I’ve done…even if it’s to realize what not to do again!
Getting Out of Your Own Way seems to be most challenging when we’re doing something that “matters”…whether it’s trying to win a tennis match, create a piece of art for publication, or express our opinion in a peer group. Whenever we attach ourselves and who we are to what we are doing, we are more vulnerable to becoming frustrated, tense and unable to perform. If we can just Get Out of Our Own Way and realize that we know what we know, our experiences will be so much more enjoyable no matter the outcome. How do I get to that place? Well, I have to talk to myself like a mental patient and tell myself that I know how to serve, return the ball and move on the court…just like I know how to blend colors, translate what I’m thinking to paper, and use my tools. So no matter whether I win or lose, create something I like or don’t like, the outcome is the outcome…and I am so much the better for doing it.
The next time you feel stuck or frustrated, try asking yourself what you could do to Get Out of Your Own Way. Should you just try the color that keeps popping into your head? Should you just write the words that are ringing in your ears? Stop debating with yourself and go with what you feel. Trust yourself…and really, what’s the worst that can happen if you do that?