Each morning I write for 30 minutes before I need to get ready for work. This is my daily writing practice, and I’ve been doing it nearly every day since early January of this year. There are a few other practices that, together with my writing, make up my morning routine: some yoga, meditation, a little workout, and reading.
At least a couple mornings each week, I sit down to write and nothing comes to mind. Stress will hit my head and upper torso, and I’ll nearly open a new browser tab and go to email, social media, or my calendar. Instead, however, I close my eyes, take a couple deep breaths, and just start writing.
It doesn’t work to force myself to write. I can’t force words out. Instead, I just get my fingers moving on the keyboard and words start showing up on the screen. Here’s the type of sentence that usually comes out, and I end up editing it off the top of my blog post drafts:
"I’m not sure what to write - I’m distracted by the tv playing in this waiting room, it’s cold in here, and people are talking. But here it goes anyway. Breathe deep. Let's see what falls out."
There are times when we feel like we’ve really got to push ourselves to meet our next goal, or push ourselves to act in the face of internal resistance, or push ourselves to do the things we really want or know to do for ourselves. What if we don’t actually have to push ourselves to get those things done? What if, instead, we just stopped holding ourselves back?
Plan your work. In moments of calm and clarity, that’s when it’s best to make commitments and plans of action for our future selves. When we’ve committed to an action or a practice from that space of still, relaxed knowing, it’s coming from a truer part of ourselves than our surface level desires and interests.
Take actions before you can talk yourself out of it. We get into our own way by paying more attention to our thinking about the action than just getting in action. In Getting Going, I shared about a student struggling with school work. To me, to his parents, and to his other teachers, the kid has so much potential and “just needs to get out of his own way.” We’re all just like this kid.
Don’t listen to your judgmental thinking while you’re acting. It’s generally more dangerous and risky to put ourselves out there, to put time in, and to possibly fail at whatever it is we’re doing. So our brains, which were designed to keep us safe, are going to throw into our awareness whatever thoughts will keep us maintaining the safe status quo in our lives. Focus on the action you’re committed to, including the motions of your body as you take the action, and allow the judgmental thoughts to come and go without needing to focus on them or do anything with them.
We don't need to push ourselves to live consistently and reliably in line with our best selves (what I think of as our True Self) - we just need to get out of our own way.
Don't hold back.
No need to push, but don’t hold back. - Susanna and Ya’Acov Darling Khan
Thanks for reading. ❤️
By the way, my workshop for adolescents and my workshop for adults are both beginning 2 weeks from today! Consider joining me, and please share with someone who may be interested! In the workshop, we'll discover new access to getting out of our own way so that we don't need to push ourselves and we don't hold back.