A story with all the feels
Whenever I struggle to write or work one of my go-to thoughts has been, "I'm just not inspired."
It's like I've been asked if I want some cheese and crackers and I say, "No thanks, I'm not hungry right now!"
Except this isn't a matter of consumption. It's a practice of producing. One that I must engage in consistently if I want to have the means necessary to support myself and my family.
This is a conundrum many creative professionals must navigate. Heck, even salespeople have to perform regardless of whether or not they feel like it. And yet, our feelings, or more specifically the stories we tell ourselves about our feelings, impacts everything.
One of the reasons I moved to Colorado is the many days of sunshine we get here. I often joke that I'm part cat and therefore enjoy basking in the rays of the celestial heater in the sky.
This has been the dreariest winter I've endured since moving here almost seventeen years ago. Many mornings I have woken up to dull grey clouds blanketing the sky with the persistence and sheen of duct tape, sticky side facing out.
The weather leads to the dull drums. And before I know it, I'm weaving stories of how I can't handle a cloudy day.
When I believe the stories, every task becomes harder. I'm fighting wave after wave of resistance, which zaps my energy even more. Lo and behold, the struggle persists.
One morning I woke up to ripples of grey clouds covering the sky, hiding the sun so well I couldn't help but wonder if it tripped at the horizon and didn't get back up. I took a deep breath and sighed as I exhaled.
Before I launched into my usual internal story time about cloudy days, a thought popped into my head. What if the weather this winter is offering me an opportunity to reorient? What if the problem isn't the weather, but the story I keep telling myself about it?
More specifically, the issue wasn't just the way the weather makes me feel. It was tied into the fact that I've had a lifetime habit of operating from a high level of activation and charge. I've been addicted to feeling energized, inspired, and excited so I can tackle my work full throttle.
My nervous system has become so accustomed to high levels of activation and charge that any time I felt mellow I mistook it as a bad thing. Complacent has been an uncomfortable feeling for me. If I didn't feel the zing-pop of excitement I persistently questioned my ability to motivate and work. And my self-doubt catalyzed a funk, which become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But always operating at that high level of charge wasn't sustainable. I burned out, my brain and body limp from over exertion time and time again. I had to shift from my cycle of go, go, go to crash landing into the post-apocalyptic land of zombies and back. I needed to stop being the rabbit and learn how to be the turtle.
I've spent years rewiring my nervous system so I could shift this pattern. The last phase of which has been learning to accept that some days, I can be mellow, operate in a lower gear, and still be satisfied. I can accept the grey sky without judgment. I now know on those days that I'm doing my best and my best is good enough.
And what's really interesting is how much more energy I have when I allow myself to be mellow than when I resisted or judged myself on days like that.
Just like the only way I can consistently write my blogs here and be a creator is to stop lamenting "I'm just not inspired" when I don't know what to write. Instead, I just have to start writing regardless of how I feel! When I do my efforts eventually pay off.
The way I experience the world around me is completely dependent on the stories I'm telling myself in response to the feelings I have at any given moment.
I'd love to hear what stories you've been telling yourself!