You want to ask for what you need, speak up, take on that new opportunity, reach out and connect with people that can bring value to your life.
You dream of taking a class with your favorite acting coach. You wake up looking forward to writing the song that you’ve been hearing in your mind for a while now. Today is the day your painting will be done. It’s time to take a chance and submit your script.
And yet, you find that you don’t… This happens over and over again. You’re too busy, too tired, too preoccupied. There’s too much going on right now. Today just isn’t the day.
Time after time, you find yourself not taking that next important step….
There are valid reasons you don’t take that important new step, but is there something more holding you back?
Be present with yourself for a moment. What comes to your mind if you ask yourself, “how come I don’t…?”
Behind your valid excuses, can you sense another deeper truth trying to reveal itself? Maybe it whispers gently from the deep down, lost places in your mind. Or maybe the answer pops out loud and clear, as if it was waiting for that question to bring it out. Or, perhaps, you can barely hear a message coming from hidden layers of different feelings. If you’d be honest with yourself, what would you hear?
Hmm….are you avoiding something?
Avoidance? Ok, let’s stay with that. Let’s see it. Feel it. Let’s talk about. The last thing you want to do is avoid your avoidance.
When you avoid looking at your avoidance, you just get buried deeper and deeper within what you’re trying to not to see. It makes it nearly impossible to understand or free yourself from what’s holding your back.
What does avoidance bring to your creative life?
Does avoidance allow you to be the creative that you want to be? Does it open doors to new jobs, castings, or shows? Does it help you connect with people that you admire and inspire you? People that genuinely care about you? Does it make your life as an artist bigger? Does it fill you with that expansive creative energy?
Or, does avoidance make your life less rich and meaningful? Does it limit the development and expression of your talents? Does it limit your possibilities and your relationships? Your world gets smaller and your potential shrinks, one avoidance at a time. It constricts your creative energy to a small ball of fire, eventually reducing it to a barely flickering flame…
There is nothing that can reduce your creative flame more than avoidance.
There is nothing that can shrink your life as as artist more than avoidance.
What lies underneath avoidance?
I’m sure, at some level, you know what lurks behind your avoidance. It’s fear.
But fear isn’t the problem. The problem is your relationship to fear and what you do with that fear. Biologically, when you feel fear, you can have three responses: fight, freeze, or fly. How is this translated into our minds and hearts?
Fight is a great life energy. But, if you have hidden messages that are not healthy around your fighting spirit, how could you connect and feel authentic in that energy? Maybe for you “fight” means war, something that is bad and damaging. Fighting is aggressive. With these messages in your mind, you’re likely to repress or disconnect from that pure fighting spirt you have.
Actually, you need your fighting spirit. Fighting energy is healthy. You fight for a cause, you assert your rights, you use this energy to take on your life’s mission. Fighting energy isn’t necessarily about conflict, it’s about action and about creating something good, meaningful, or helpful.
To move through the world with the spirit of a fighter is to take action that is infused with the dreams that you want to bring to life.
Remember, we’re talking about the roots of avoidance here. At some point in your past, instead of using your healthy fighting energy, you froze in fear or you ran away from facing what you fear.
A healthy relationship to fear allows you to stay connected with your fear, to neither freeze in terror or run away. When you avoid fear, you find yourself paralyzed and unable to connect with your fighting spirit and turn it into action. Or, you run away from that fear because you’re afraid to feel it.
Paralyzing fear feels more like depression, emptiness, and passiveness. Running away fear feels more like anxiety, agitation, and restlessness. You may experience one or both of these.
These responses aren’t always operating in your awareness. Many times you don’t get to choose how you respond to fear. Unhealthy fear is the result of unprocessed memories, memories that you didn’t have the chance to make sense of and respond to from an empowering place. You can connect with that fear, get in touch what you’re actually afraid of, and overcome it.
What is it actually that you are afraid of?
You’re afraid that you may not be able to handle difficult feelings. These difficult feelings are not always obvious, as they hide behind fear. Maybe you’re afraid you won’t be able to tolerate shame, rejection, or feelings of insecurity. Maybe you worry about how you’ll handle being criticized or discounted.
We all want to avoid difficult feelings. Difficult feelings challenge us in many ways. But it’s through facing difficult feelings that we keep ourselves connected with those feelings that we want. Like joy, excitement, curiosity… These feelings keep us connected to our healthy fighting spirit. When we fight for something we are engaged, connected, and alive.
As you continue to avoid difficult feelings, your life gets smaller and smaller. Your ability to tolerate difficult feelings shrinks as time goes on.
How can you get in touch with your difficult feelings and move from avoidance to facing and creating your life?
You can’t simply decide you won’t avoid anymore. Don’t try to fix it like a bad habit. This is not about fixing something. This is about being in touch with yourself, with your messy, difficult, good, and exciting feelings. You are most beautiful in your most authentic self. In fact, thinking how to fix everything keeps you stuck in avoidance and takes you away from what’s most beautiful about you.
Tap into your curiosity, self-compassion, and self-validation. Start by wondering and being curious about your feelings. Be gentle. Allow your answers to come to you rather than trying to find them.
When you want to explore an untraveled lost world, you don’t find what you expect to find. The world reveals itself to you, if you allow it. Allow your inner world to reveal itself at its own pace. And when it reveals something to you and you see it, embrace it!
This journey isn’t always easy. For some it can be almost impossible to proceed alone. This can be the time to call a therapist who can help creatives like you meet their avoidance and discover the world of emotions beneath it. Read my Depression Treatment page to think deeper about what may lie under avoidance.
If you have any questions please contact me for a free consultation.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with their life struggles, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creativity, relationships and love, PTSD, and addictions – to become their own best version.