The frustrating thing about being a human is that we’re supposed to be so smart, but the sentience that separates us from animals also makes us dumb to our own desires. In a crisis situation, instead of letting our bodies respond the way they are trained to respond, we overthink. In the long game of our lives, instead of being able to hear our inner voice tell us what is important, we let our brains tell us instead what is comfortable.
This is why we do things to lose ourselves like drinking or having relationship after relationship or even just binge-watching Netflix — anything — instead of being still and listening to the uncomfortable thoughts that might surface. We avoid listening because we are afraid of what we might hear. We think we know better. We think we can do it in a way that won’t cause us to be vulnerable or unstable or in a position where we might worry about how we will make rent.
This is especially vexing for creatives, who I think are born with some kind of mission. A story to tell or a work to create or a special place of inspiration or power where they’ll be able to help other creatives. But our special talents are always at war with our egos. We don’t want to play the long game, we don’t want to toil or suffer for what is inside us. We want what our hero artists had, but we don’t want to do the lifetime of work to get there. And so we run into obstacles and we call it writer’s block.
If we want to do our best art, we need to pay attention to what we are communicating to ourselves. Our satisfaction is a language that relays this information to us — and so is our frustration. When something isn’t working, there is a reason for it. There is an opportunity to address the problem and find a way around it. There is something inside us saying “this is not the way.”
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