How to Transcend Resistance and Surrender to Creative Flow
In my previous post, I introduced the concept that writer's block/artist's block are experiences of illusion that prevent us from accessing our innate creativity. I also introduced the possibility of transcending creative block to surrender to the creative flow inside you.
For me, resistance looks like this: the weight of all my "what-ifs" crashes down on me.
What if this isn't the book I'm supposed to write? What if I'm really not as qualified as I think about any of the things I'm saying? (Research: imposter syndrome). What if I'm totally deluding myself about the significance of what I have to offer? What if I need to be focusing on some other aspect of my business or life, like networking or housekeeping – or be creating in a totally different medium? (Revisit Stephen Cope's book re: your dharma). How am I supposed to know the answer to any of these questions? What the f•ck do I actually do with all this awareness of my own resistance?!!??!?!!?!???!?!?!?!?!?!
I find myself endlessly scrolling social media and subconsciously comparing myself to people who are actually producing work. Losing my energetic flow and living inside a tight, hard ball in my solar plexus.
On the surface, it seems impossible to break these self-defeating habits without knowing the source of them – but really, resistance, as a universal experience, is an illusion.
Here's why: you are inherently (that means "in a permanent, essential, or characteristic way") a creative being. In fact, you are creative energy embodied in human form.
Just take a look at your human reproductive system. You are biologically hardwired to create life. Your body, as an organism, is constantly in a process of resistance/surrender/release as its cells die off, reproduce and evolve. Your mind is constantly creating your reality through the framework of the thoughts you choose most often.
Creating is a laborious experience.
It's you and your pain and your art, inside your body, figuring out who is in control and who needs to do what so that your inner expression can be free from its cages.
There are a plethora of resources online for understanding what fears and beliefs are feeding your personal resistance. Childhood trauma from criticism and comparison to others are huge triggers for most people. Wherever your resistance stems from, that's a personal and emotional exploration for you to undertake if you choose to.
After doing tons of work on understanding what exactly I was scared of, I realized that studying my resistance and doing deep work into the root causes of it was, while helpful, actually a form of resistance itself. (i.e., procrastination. And it made me literally depressed.).
I had served myself a pseudo-resistance cocktail.
One of my resistant habits is spending a lot of time on social media, particularly on Instagram. When I decided to make Instagram my main medium, or way of communicating an artistic message, I was faced with a feeling of resisting the very platform that I was using to act out my creative freedom.
Every post became a challenge.
I had to actually test the mettle of my own theory on the creative process being a cycle. If resistance was a natural part of my flow, what exactly was the magic word was that unlocked the door between resistance and release?
How, exactly, did one surrender?
The answer came to me when I hit "post" one day and received a response from my audience that confirmed what I already knew: that I was a powerful and successful creative whose work mattered.
Then it clicked.
I realized that no matter how many brilliant ideas I had for posts or novels or global governance systems, the universe only responded to what I did.
Your creative process will only move from resistance to surrender when you act.
And act, and act, and act, and say "HEY, RESISTANCE, I SEE YOU," and act.
Open a note on your phone and type some words. Doodle a rough storyboard on a pizza box. Turn your camera on selfie mode and film yourself singing for three minutes, Just do it. Whatever. ACT.
Right! So that was the key. I continued to hit "post" and "share" and put my work out there, despite my resistance to it. I posted things that weren't my "golden ticket" ideas, not my "bestsellers" (those I was still experiencing resistant behaviour around) – but every creative action was already boosting my confidence and bring the right readers and connections into my life to start to shift the trajectory of my work onto the path I envisioned.
And then, I realized something even more miraculous:
Once you act, you have already transcended the labour experience, and are in the process of moving your thoughts into form (creative manifestation/birth).
What happens at the point of surrender?
The Universe recognizes your effort. It will respond by giving you a sense of awareness of your creative power. You will start to feel genuine excitement for your work, or new appreciation for yourself; a renewed sense of focus, and calm acceptance of where you're at in the process, no matter the quality of what you've produced.
When you act, you say, Look! There's something real here! Something for your eyes and brain to assess objectively, something that five-year-old you would have run to show Mum and been tacked on the fridge (if that's the kind of experience you had). That piece of paper is a tangible thing. That thing says "I created something." Completed. Done. In itself, even if you've only written one sentence, the act of writing a sentence is already resistance/surrender/release, completed.
Ready for more ridiculous wordplay? Because I'm a sucker for it?
To achieve surrender into creative release, alchemize resistant energy through persistent action on a consistent basis.
How to use this knowledge to create more art
So what happens now that you know the secret to surrender, the way to transcend creative block as a concept and work with the creative flow inside you? (It's action, if you forgot already).
Now you have to learn how to focus your energy onto the scope of all the things you want to create, and to see the small and large projects as equal in terms of creative energy required. You have to learn not to be attached to what you create, and not to hold off on your best ideas. To think laterally, to see creativity as a natural and daily exercise, for which all your ideas are sets to be completed, not trophies to be won.
You have to learn to make and release.