Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The War of Art

I want to thank my friend, Jenna, for featuring Steven Pressfield, author of the book, The War of Art, on her blog recently. She read his book, found it compelling enough to write a blog post about it, and he contacted her to see if she would like to do an interview with him on her blog. How cool is that? He was gracious enough to offer a few books as a giveaway to her readers and I was one of the lucky winners.

So, I sat down to read the book. Wow. What can I say? Here is the gist of the book:

"Pressfield's book aims to help readers overcome Resistance so that they may achieve "the unlived life within." Whether one wishes to embark on a diet, a program of spiritual advancement or an entrepreneurial venture, it's most often resistance that blocks the way. To kick resistance, Pressfield stresses loving what one does, having patience and acting in the face of fear. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself. "

So, I'm getting misty-eyed about one-quarter of the way into the book because I realize that I have been sabotaging myself for most of my adult life. I have loads of ways to rationalize that I shouldn't, couldn't, wouldn't do something because of the fear of the unknown. I can convince myself so easily that I shouldn't, couldn't, wouldn't do something because I'm really not that good at it anyway. If I can't do something well enough the first time around I really don't want to do it at all. So I stall and I rationalize and I sabotage. What a cop out. It's easier sometimes to provide excuses than to actually do the thing we really want to do in the first place but have convinced ourselves is out of our reach because of self-sabotaging behavior! Whew. Why on earth are we so hard on ourselves?

Plain and simple fear. At least for me it's fear. Steven says in the book that, "We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. We fear this because, if it's true, then we become estranged from all we know. We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us."

Bingo. I must prove worthy of my ideals. And that does scare me. What if I lose? What if I am not as good as I thought I was? Confidence is a hard thing to come by but it's the only thing that will help us achieve any results because if we don't believe in ourselves, who will? It sounds simple enough. Have confidence, will conquer. Steven's book is a great reminder to keep plowing forward in the face of fear.

During my reading and revelations, I kept thinking about my mom. She was a talented person who never fully realized her talents. She could write, she could draw, she could sing and act and do just about anything creative. But, she avoided her calling and spent most of her time manifesting sicknesses instead. She was always ill and always trying to find a cure for her ailments. The time she spent visiting doctor's offices would have been better spent providing an outlet for her creative talent. But, she didn't believe in herself. At all. She died never realizing any of her potential. "Casting yourself as a victim is the antithesis of doing your work." All of her energy went into her victimhood. What a waste.

After my mom died I took out of her house one of her paintings that I had always admired. I brought it home and put it in the Armoire near my desk because I didn't really have a place for it at the time. I knew I would hang it up somewhere, someday, but just never gave it much thought as to where.

After reading the chapter in Steven's book about "Resistance and Victimhood" it became very clear to me that I needed to hang that picture up...right now. I stoop up, grabbed a hammer and nail, moved picture frames and other paraphernalia off the bookcase near my desk and hung my mother's painting. Her painting is now in clear view as a constant reminder that I still have the opportunity to realize my dreams. My mom lost her chance.
I don't want to let that happen to me. I want to overcome self-sabotage and overcome my obstacles of ambition. I want to provide a great example to my kids of what it means to find your calling and be true to yourself.

I have some work to do, but I am ready to do it.


Jenna said...

I'm right there with you...I do the same crap...and I have some work to do as well :).

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I was just discussing this very topic with a friend a few nights ago and came to the same conclusions about my own journey.
Thanks for sharing.

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