Yes, being an artist is about living in the uncomfortable zone. You don’t know how your art will be received in the world. You invest all your resources in developing the skills that you need to express your art. You bear the unknown, having no idea when you will get an assignment, a show, an audition, if your book will sell, or if your script will be the one… You perpetually have to go out in the world to open new doors and create possibilities for yourself.
And, if someone tells you it’s easy to be with the uncomfortable day after day and year after year… it’s not! Sometimes it feels like you’re wrestling with the uncomfortable, getting dirty and messy, falling and getting up, resisting it, or crawling… But, you must go through the wrestling, the fighting, or the crawling to discover your own comfort in the uncomfortable.
By being with and doing the uncomfortable you find your freedom from getting stuck in in the uncomfortable.
When you discover your freedom in the uncomfortable, you can find yourself flowing into these beautiful moments on the other side of the uncomfortable. All of the sudden, you feel emotionally at peace with being uncomfortable. Maybe even excited and relieved. Now you are focused and present with what seemed unbearable or really hard before. You discover that you can be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This is when you can begin to take the right actions to create your career as an artist, being at peace with the uncomfortable. You can even flow and dance or feel inspired by the discomfort that once felt so hard to bear.
Flowing and dancing with the uncomfortable, isn’t easy. But, when you dance and flow with the uncomfortable, you can discover your treasures as an artist. And, to dance and flow with the uncomfortable, you have to be willing to stumble, fall, and crawl…
So, here are some tips to help you find your own version of comfort in the uncomfortable:
1. Start small and build from there. For instance, if you feel terrified and intimidated to face an audition with someone you idealize, practice by taking on smaller auditions. Finding your comfort with the less scary and intimidating auditions prepares you to find your comfort with the big auditions that you dream of.
Be willing to stretch your comfort zone and take on some discomfort, then you start inviting growth. One little bit of growth at a time, until, suddenly, you find yourself daring to do things you could never imagine.
2. If you feel like holding back from the uncomfortable, just go for it. Give it a try. You may find out that whatever you feared to try wasn’t so scary after all. Once, you have that internal emotional understanding that you survived and you made it through, you will feel proud and relieved. Most likely this feeling will empower you to take on the next new challenge.
That exhibition that you avoid submitting your art to? What is the worst that can happen? No one will be impressed? It doesn’t speak to your audience? At the same time as giving your art the chance to be out there, maybe it can start a dialogue with your audience. So, someday, it will speak to your audience.
3. Remember it’s totally normal to feel a mixture of excitement and fear when taking on a new challenge. Be with that fear and connect with the excitement.
Do you remember your last performance when you were so excited and scared at the same time? What happened? Your answer will let you know if you need to work on finding your comfort with being uncomfortable.
For more about this delicate balance between excitement and fear that is a part of the creative and performance process for so many artists, see article: Performance Anxiety and Unconscious Anticipations.
4. When you dare, the action of daring in itself will make you feel brave so you can take on the next step of your challenge. Bravery can flow just like your creativity does. It can move you along until things that once seemed impossible begin to feel nearly effortless.
5. The more you practice the more you learn. Think of being comfortable with the uncomfortable as a skill that you build rather than a trait you are born with. Just as you need to practice the skills that are fundamental building blocks of your art, you can practice being in the discomfort in order to become a stronger, more resilient artist.
In the end, it’s the moments of flow, dance, and inspiration with the uncomfortable that allow you find your authentic artistic expression to create your unique art.
If you find that you’re very often paralyzed when you are called to take on new challenges, seek professional help.
Many times unprocessed conflicts may hold you back from finding your comfort with being uncomfortable. Maybe you had some bad experiences that left you emotionally raw and anxious. Now old emotional conflicts are triggered whenever you’re in a new, stressful situation and you find yourself overwhelmed with sweaty palms, racing heart, and feeling dizzy. All you want is to escape or hide so no one can see how terrified you are.
Emotional conflicts can keep you stuck in discomfort, and you may not even be aware of how they take over. You probably wonder if you can free yourself or if you are doomed to be this way.
No, you are not doomed to get stuck in discomfort. There is so much you can do to transform the way you take on uncomfortable situations. Psychotherapy and coaching can be very effective in helping you find your comfort with the uncomfortable.
Any questions? Please contact me to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see if psychotherapy can help you further your career and your personal life.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creative blocks / creative issues, relationships, and addictions – to be and live their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers here.