When to choose comfort and when to choose creative risk
I love comfort. I started my career writing about comfort and self-care with The Woman’s Comfort Book.
I believe in the transformative power of healthy comfort.
But I also intimately know the fine line between “Time for a nap because I’m tired” and “Time for a nap because I’m afraid of launching my new program.”
Comfort that recharges is essential. You need to turn off your brain, feel safe, and rest.
Comfort that stagnates turns into why bother. It cocoons you in a way that makes you stop believing you can do anything new, fresh, or challenging.
It stupefies your growth.
How to discern which is which?
Build your self-trust.
Ask yourself, am I choosing comfort out of fear of failure, exposure, humiliation, or because I need a mental break? It’s not about making the right choice, it’s about asking yourself the right question and listening for the answer.
Detach creative experimentation from the outcome.
Instead of judging your efforts by how good you think you did, note what you learned, what interested you, where you came alive or connected with others, and build on that.
Detach the outcome from your self-worth.
Nothing you do or don’t do determines your worth as a human.
Meet your worries and fears with movement, gesture, or by being in nature.
One of my favorite podcast episodes for my show Create out Loud is with science journalist Annie Murphy Paul. Go here to listen and get her list of creative practices that make it easier to keep going. Annie made them just for us!
Use teeny-tiny containers and lower the bar.
If you make it scary to create by insisting you produce brilliant work or work longer or harder than your body and brain can handle, you will lose confidence and momentum. You will convince yourself there is no point, why bother, when all that needs to change is how you work. Do less, practice stopping with something in the tank, make it safe to create.
Remember your brain doesn’t care if you make stuff.
Your brain doesn’t like to use resources to take risks. So you have to outsmart your brain. One way is to rub your temples and gently remind yourself, “It’s not personal, it’s just my brain.” Then exhale long and slow, count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and take the easiest next step.
Action creates momentum. Action changes your mood.
Stop waiting to feel like it and do something.
Refrain from making comfort optional or giving yourself less than what you really want.
Instead, make time for what comforts you. Ask yourself, “What do I really want right now?” Sometimes you shy away from creative challenges because you haven’t given yourself true nourishment, maybe in a long time. Trust yourself to meet your true desires. If you desire ice cream, a mid-morning nap, or reading a fantasy novel, do!
Sticking with your creative desires over the long haul is hard and perhaps doubly hard for people who identify as women. We can wish it was easier, we can wait for a better day when we have more time, we can rail against the world or we can accept where we find ourselves, get support, and keep making stuff.
I’ll be doing the latter. Join me.