The Fine Line Between Self-Acceptance and Avoidance
My entire life up until about 6 months ago, I avoided my calling. I procrastinated and made excuses. I knew I was doing this, and constantly beat myself up for it, without ever changing my behavior. It was a constant cycle of avoiding using my talent (for fear of failure) and then criticizing myself for the avoidance, which would lead to more pain, which lead to even more avoidance. Yikes.
When I finally came to terms with the fact that these thoughts and behaviors were why I hadn’t moved forward toward my goals, everything changed. I vowed to “show up” at my computer every day, no matter what. I started putting myself out there, and I saw positive change.
But somewhere along the way, something became warped. I feel amazing when I am focused on writing a piece, when I have a clear goal in mind to work toward each morning. But every time I finish one, and the time comes to brainstorm again and find a new direction, I start freaking out. When I wake up in the morning and can’t immediately come up with a new idea to work with, I feel discouraged. I feel inadequate, like I am on the verge of failure.
I try to force something out, and wonder why I’m getting more frustrated, and feeling less inspired.
I realize I am working from a place of fear. Fear of failure and inadequacy. I am forcing myself to go through the motions out of fear of inaction. It’s understandable, considering inaction held me back for so long. I guess I’m afraid that even the smallest pause will ruin everything.
It’s tricky because as freelancer I am responsible for my own level of productivity. So where do I find balance between beating myself up and slipping into avoidance habits?
Suppose I am inspired and want to write, but start feeling afraid that what I write won’t be any good, so I choose to watch TV all day in order to avoid failing. At the end of the day I feel disappointed because I know I was avoiding.
I could say to myself,
“Well, I did nothing but watch TV all day today, and I completely accept that.”
Or I could say:
“I did nothing but watch TV all day, I am such a lazy piece of shit!”
Both sentences are rooted in fear. The first is lying to myself–telling myself it’s okay to avoid—life is hard, after all.
The second is beating myself up and causing more pain and anxiety.
But what if there was a more balanced option? Better yet, a more loving one?
“Well, I did nothing but watch TV today. There is nothing I can do to change that, but I would like to be more productive in the future so that I can move forward toward my goals. I want to do this, because I know being more focused will help me achieve more happiness in the long run.”
Here, I am noticing the behavior of watching TV, and also noting that it could be a form of avoidance. I am accepting it, in a sense that I acknowledge that it happened, but I am not beating myself up over it. I am gently willing myself to move forward, out of love for myself and for writing, rather than fear of failure or inadequacy.
The difference lies in what I allow to motivate me—fear, or love.
When I connect with the love I have for myself, and let that self-love be my motivation rather than fear and self-loathing, I can move forward joyfully.
When I let go of the illusion that I can control every aspect of my success, I can rest in the faith that my gift will reach those who need inspiration.
My creativity can flow freely and genuinely.
This isn’t to say I shouldn’t work as hard as I can at my craft. But I should gently will myself forward, lovingly—not forcefully, and not from a place of fear or jealousy of others.
Fear will still come, of course. But I must continually remind myself of why I started writing in the first place:
Love for my craft.
Love for myself.
Love for the world.