Chances are you have crossed paths with a self-help book that talks of our ability to create either abundance or scarcity, depending on our mindset. The mind is, indeed, a very powerful tool; what we focus on becomes our experience.
When I catch myself envying anothers good fortune, their creative wellspring, the envy causes a chain reaction of mental and physical deflation that is immediately noticeable. If I continue down the path of envy, it descends into jealousy, bitterness, insecurity, deficit-consciousness and, eventually, depression. My body feels tired, overwhelmed with the invisible weight of all my unrealized dreams and expectations.
This experience is not uncommon. Most of us have been there at one time or another. The trick is to recognize envy as our subconscious way of letting us know it sees something in the envied persons experience that, if we allow ourselves to seek out a similar experience, we will feel that same creative wellspring in our own lives. We will benefit mentally, physically and spiritually.
Once we flip the switch from envy to affirmation, we begin to feel a reversal of the ills our minds and bodies have conjured. We can feel a burst of energy that sustains and perpetuates itself if we continue down the path of affirmation and positive action. Focusing on what would make each of us happy, we gain healthier minds and likely, healthier bodies as a result.
Having said that, there is still the risk of overdoing it with enthusiasm and goal setting. In As You Like It, Shakespeare asks the very important question, Can one desire too much of a good thing? The short answer is, Yes. The long answer is Oh, Hell, yes.
What many of those self-help books dont tell you is how rich that creative wellspring is, to the point of overflowing and overwhelming. Opening ourselves to our true goals doesnt just flood us with energy, it floods us with new ideas lots of new ideas. I dont want to make it sound like a bad thing, but there should be a warning label attached to abundance that reads, Proceed with Care.
When we make a conscious, consistent effort to allow ourselves to pursue what we love with optimism and positive expectation, we open the floodgates to more creative possibilities than we could shake a stick at. And, if weve been without possibilities for a great length of time, we are the proverbial starving man at the banquet, not always adequately prepared to manage that which is set before us. We run the risk of overindulgence and all the side effects that come with it.
If weve previously been in a positivity drought, our tendency can be to want to overdose on good because it feels so good; we might unwittingly move from abundance to excess without realizing. We want to do it all and we want to do it all right now. It is also worth note, if weve procrastinated working toward our true goals, letting ourselves get distracted, or pulled into fulfilling others wishes instead of our own, there is the tendency to burn the candle at both ends to make up for what we perceive to be lost time.
I would say that I fall somewhere between the two examples listed above. I am ambitious by nature, geared toward grand plans and long-term goals right from the start. I want to think big and achieve big, thus my goals lists tend to be very detailed and complex sometimes too complex. I often forget that I am but one mere human, not an army. I also often forget that I dont have to go it alone; I dont have to shoulder all the responsibility myself. There is no stopwatch keeping track of my time and threatening to shut me out of the flow of abundance if I dont work fast enough. If I were to assign myself a daily affirmation, it would read, Its okay to take it one day at a time.
In my experience, the surge of positive energy which comes from pursuing my goals can easily turn into excess, and I might initially feel drunk with vigor and excitement. However, if I dont moderate that enthusiasm, recognize my human limitations, a switch will flip. Suddenly, Ill find myself no longer enjoying the process - the hangover from too much ambition begins. Somewhere along the way, I pause to take a breath, take a good look at my goals list, become overwhelmed at the prospect of tackling it all, and, soon thereafter, find myself on the couch with a glass of wine and a bag of Cheetos, draining my brain while marathoning some TV series I normally couldnt care less about.
I can put myself at risk of becoming paralyzed from abundance overload, unsure where to begin or how to tackle it all. I can put myself at risk of doubting if I am even capable of achieving any of the lovely goals Ive set for myself. If Im not careful, I can turn the positive into a negative, going right back to being the person who feels like Im on the outside of the creative wellspring, looking in. Ultimately, its better for me to practice moderation. That way I dont get to the point where Im second-guessing myself and sitting on the couch with junk food and bad TV.
In speaking with fellow creatives, I have discovered this is not unique to me. Whether or not it is unique to creatives, I could not say. We are a rather passionate bunch with grand, romantic visions, steered by empathy and emotion, though I doubt we hold the patent on these behaviors. I suspect all humans can relate in one way or another; its universally applicable. The desires to achieve, to succeed, and to find true happiness are well-documented throughout history.
If I were going to offer any advice on how to avoid finding yourself paralyzed by the weight of all your expectations, I would suggest the following:
· Be kind to yourself. Find balance make time for all that daily life requires of you AND make time to do something that is for you and you alone. Even if it is only for 15 minutes to an hour per day, begin the process of fulfilling a personal dream. Also, dont feel the need to justify it or to apologize for it.
· Expect the ideas to begin flowing like a river. Creativity breeds creativity. Once you give yourself permission to pursue something you feel passionate about, it is inevitable that opportunities and ideas you had never considered will present themselves to you in rapid succession. It is not that they werent there before. Rather its that you never noticed them until now because your focus was elsewhere.
· Keep an ideas journal, not just for when you are overflowing with them, but also when you find yourself in a rut, a creative block. Having fresh, untapped ideas at the ready serves a dual purpose of both keeping us from being overwhelmed as well as keeping us from feeling like theres a limited number of creative ideas available to us. Writing an idea down gets it out of your head so you have more room to think clearly, to plot a reasonable course and to allow the next great idea to surface.
· Remember that time is not your enemy. Give yourself the freedom to pursue your goals at your own pace. There is no time limit to abundance other than what we tell ourselves. If we decide we want to pursue an idea, and we want time to pursue it thoroughly, we will have that time. A goal pursued in joy and peace, not rushed or peppered with anxiety, is a thing of beauty. It is our best effort, and it has the best chance for success. We do our creative wellspring no favors by letting our fears or insecurities take control. The fear of time, or the lack thereof, is usually at the top of the anxiety list for most people.
· No man is an island. Share your goals and make yourself accountable to close friends, peers and loves ones who can keep you from crashing and burning. Or, if youre simply prone to starting and stopping due to general insecurity, let them be there to help you focus and to cheer you on. I am eternally grateful and indebted to my friends and loved ones for lending me their ears and helping me to stay both grounded and afloat, whichever is necessary in the given moment.
In summation, do not be afraid to open yourself to the creative wellspring of abundance. Also, dont be afraid to take it slow when you do. The most successful people Ive known have understood the value of balance and moderation, even of their most passionate pursuits. Im inclined to follow their example. I hope you will, too.
©Jelaine Faunce. All rights reserved.