Week 10 of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is about Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection. The premise is that we, as artists, are conduits for creative energy which flows through us seamlessly when we are confident in who we are and in our life purpose.
However, we can, and often do, resist the flow of this energy when we fear where it might take us. We all have little pet blocking methods that stem the tide of creative flow, but help us feel more “in control.” Some people overeat, others overindulge in sex or alcohol, or obsess over love relationships. We are used to seeing ourselves in a certain way – struggling, or frustrated, or almost-there. Even though we may not like these feelings, they are familiar. Moving out of frustration into true success can be scary and eerily unfamiliar. Holding onto our creative blocks restores a feeling of normalcy.
These blocks are born out of fear – fear of success, failure, or change. My pet block is obsessive jealous thoughts, either about other people’s successes or about my romantic relationships. Somehow someone is going to take something valuable away from me or snatch an opportunity right out of my hands. Focusing on these petty and ridiculous thoughts keeps me from stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing my own power as a woman and as an artist.
Seeing this for the first time this week has made a remarkable difference in my overall attitude. The thoughts don’t magically disappear, but I recognize them for what they are – distractions. No one can take anything that truly belongs to me. My path as an artist is my own, no one else’s. Similarly, every couple’s story is different – there is no one path to love. And jealously guarding any relationship is a waste of time. Your partner either loves you or he doesn’t and being jealous of other people doesn’t help one way or the other. All it is is a drain on your creative energy. All it does is provide a convenient block to your own progress as a person.
The way out of this trap is not to “work harder”, but to have fun! The energy of fun and play is the exact opposite of fear and obsession. While workaholism and obsession drown out the voice of the Muse, play and fun open us up to new insights and connections. They allow us to dream again, to embrace our innate power and uniqueness. Thoughts of competition, jealousy, and fear keep us tied to the short-term needs of the ego – recognition, praise, beating out an imagined competitor. Thoughts of play cause us to expand, to collaborate, to see the long-term possibilities of our work. We begin to focus on making a difference in the world, not just getting our names in the paper.
As usual, the insights I glean from this book help me not only as an artist, but as a spiritual being. By the end of this week I felt as if I had taken a deep breath. I wish the same for all of you!
Now, go follow your bliss…