It’s rather predictable. When I coach people, everyone gets off to a flying start. After a session or so, a massive amount of energy is released and they are giddy about their process, writing when they’ve been blocked for years or spinning out poetry when all they’ve ever done is technical writing.
It’s heady stuff… until it isn’t.
Somewhere along the way, they get hit with an intense case of the jitters. Where before they had clarity, now they’re confused; where they were sailing along in creative flow, now they’re mired in self-doubt.
As they tell me this, all I do is smile. I knew it was coming. It’s stodgy old “grandma” ego.
Now there are lots of hip grandmas out there skydiving, wearing purple and living life to the fullest. And then there are those who have been set in their ways for far too long. Their only goal in life is staying safe and comfortable as they scan the horizon for imminent disaster. These are the ones akin to our ego.
Typically, overprotective grandma ego clucks a bit and wags her finger as you imagine your big dreams, but she doesn’t go much further.
But on that day when you stop simply imagining that motorcycle ride across the U.S. and instead buy the bike and jangle the keys in front of her, she goes nuts. When it was only talk, she just sent mild warnings. Now that it’s imminent, she does what set-in-her-way grandma does – she tries to protect you with over the top warnings. “You’ll get mowed over if you get out on that death trap!” she hisses. “A gang of Harley thugs might kidnap you!”
Irrational, yes, but she believes every word of it.
What does this have to do with writing? The ego, like our doting grandmother, is all about protecting you. It doesn’t understand risk, or creative exhilaration, or big visions. It has one job – to keep you safe.
When we actually start taking creative risks, the initial energy feels amazing. And then our ego, realizing we are serious, has a panic attack and steps in to try to quash this “irresponsible” behavior.”
At this point, often we quit. What had seemed like a brilliant idea now seems stupid. Everything feels daunting. Yet all it takes is seeing through grandma’s ruses; staying with our soul’s vision rather than our ego’s vision. One leads us to creative fulfillment; the other to a very safe and soul deadening existence.
So next time self-doubt grips you, don’t take grandma’s cane and beat yourself up with it. Instead run with it, dance with it, and use it to vault yourself even higher.
Pearls for dealing with your Ego…
- When you are starting a project and stodgy grandma ego comes calling, celebrate yourself! She is getting louder because she realizes you’re serious. You’ve gotten off the couch and you’re getting into action. That’s cause for a toast!
- Have a writing dialog with her. Ask what she’s afraid of, and what she needs to settle down.
- When you hear her voice, caricature it. Make it sound like a very cross, crotchety lady, something cartoonish, so you can see how unreal it really is.
- Get support. When you realize you’ve been stuck in the same place for a while, call a friend or a coach who can offer perspectives from outside your ego’s blind spot.
I’d love to hear your comments on the article, what pearls you notice when you begin reflecting. Please share your thoughts below in the Reply box …
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Carolyn Scarborough is a professionally trained creativity and writing coach. As founder of Backyard Pearls, LLC, she helps coaches and heart-based entrepreneurs to unblock their creativity so they can connect with and express what’s deeply meaningful to them. She leads retreats, telecourses and does private coaching with new writers, experienced writers, and those who simply need a creativity boost to launch business and writing projects. She is the author of “Backyard Pearls: Cultivating Wisdom and Joy in Everyday Life,” and is an award-winning magazine writer who has published more than 500 articles in publications around the world.
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