Creative Pep Talk #83: Be Gentle

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This is one of the simplest tips, but one of the hardest to do, with ourselves most of all. Here’s why we should give it a try anyway.

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Please note: This is an unedited transcript, provided as a courtesy, and reflects the actual conversation as closely as possible. Please forgive any typographical or grammatical errors.

Welcome to Follow Your Curiosity. Ordinary people, extraordinary creativity. Here’s how to get unstuck. I’m your host, creativity coach, Nancy Norbeck. Let’s go.

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Hey, everybody, it’s Nancy Norbeck with this week’s creative pep talk. And, you know, I was recently in an online forum where people were sharing questions that they had issues that they were trying to solve. And, you know, in the spirit of trying to be helpful, other people were responding with suggestions and ideas. And, and what I was noticing was that a lot of those folks were responding in ways that were, do this, do this. It wasn’t, it wasn’t do this. It was, you know, be this thing, post this way, do this other thing. And what struck me about it was that as the person on the receiving end, those suggestions felt like orders. I don’t think they were meant as orders. They were meant as suggestions. They were meant to be helpful, but they felt like orders, and especially in quantity. Anybody on the receiving end of that just would be overwhelming on top of that energy of just being told over and over and again what to do. Even if you wanted suggestions, that isn’t a comfortable place to be for a lot of people, especially people who consider themselves creative, because creative people tend to not deal well with being told what to do.

And the irony of that is creative people don’t like to be told what to do, and then creative people turn around and they should all over themselves. And then we wonder why it doesn’t work well. So I’ve talked about this before, but watching this got me thinking about it again. You know, we do this thing, we tell ourselves what to do all the time, and we tend not to be very nice about it. And we often, when we’re in that kind of an online forum or advice giving situation, we don’t think about how the suggestions that we’re giving come across either. And especially in an online forum, it’s super easy not to ask the other person, what have you done before, or have you thought about trying something like this? And if you have. How has it gone for you? Because suggestions and advice are not one size fits all. People are not one size fits all. And so it can be really frustrating for the person on the other end to be looking at a list of suggestions and going, I’ve done that.

I’ve done that.

I’ve done that.

I’ve done that.

I’ve done that. That hasn’t worked. Why hasn’t it worked? You can end up in this whole minefield rabbit hole of, I’m getting a whole bunch of advice that hasn’t worked, and now I’m even more frustrated than I was before. And the same thing happens when we do it to ourselves. We’re telling ourselves the same things over and over again, even if they haven’t worked before. We get more and more frustrated with ourselves and we end up in this loop, this horrible, intense, overexcited hamster wheel of frustration, because we keep telling ourselves the same things. They keep not working. We keep getting more frustrated. We’re more frustrated both as the advice giver and the advice recipient, because they’re both us. Gosh, what could possibly go wrong with this dynamic? Right? And so watching all of this go down, knowing that I am as susceptible to being on both ends of this, both in the forum kind of setting, the advice giver, advice receiver setting, and within myself as anybody else, really got me thinking, you know, there’s got to be a better way to do this.

And I think, you know, there’s a lot to be said for the idea that when you become more thoughtful, I wanted to say tolerant, but I don’t think that’s quite the right word, though that may be a piece of it. With others, it’s easier to be that way with yourself. But I think that also can go both ways. If you become gentler with yourself, you’re also likely to become that way with other people. So I think that the way to go here in both situations is to aim to be more gentle with everybody. It’s probably hardest to do it with ourselves. It’s easier, I find, to have more sympathy for other people and more empathy for other people. They’re not me. It’s harder with me. I expect more from me.

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why I expect more from me, but I do. It’s probably the voices that were put in my head as a child. Right. So I think that our mission for this week and beyond, is to be more gentle with ourselves, the way that we would try to be more gentle with other people, be more gentle with our expectations, keep them lower, because lower expectations tend to produce better results. They also tend to keep us happier. They tend to contribute to better amounts of play, things like that. And play is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot. Last month, I did the permission to play workshop this weekend, and next, I’m doing the well, as I record this, but this won’t. I don’t edit these, so bear with me.

But this weekend, as I record this, and the following weekend after, you’ll hear this, I’m doing the make bad art workshops, both of which have a lot to do with play. They have a lot to do with exactly this, setting out to be gentle with ourselves, to deliberately do something bad, which is not what our society wants us to do. It wants us to be perfect all the time. Why? I’m not quite sure. Because there’s no innovation there. There’s no room to fail, which means there’s no room to learn. And now I’m thinking that, you know, I’m doing. I’ve set myself the. The goal of doing a workshop like this every month. And so maybe there will have to be a workshop on being more gentle with ourselves, because it is part of play and it is part of creativity, and it’s also part of just being a happier human being. And that’s as good a goal as any.

So try to be more gentle with yourself. Try not to should all over yourself all the time. It’s okay if it’s not perfect. It’s okay if you mess up. Sometimes you want to mess up. If you set out to mess up, you cannot fail. That’s what making bad art is all about, as those of you who have been to a workshop or shortly will be at a workshop, will know. So be more gentle with yourself. Notice what happens when you are more gentle with yourself. And I really, really want to hear what happens when you are more gentle with yourselves, because there’s a lot to learn here. There’s a lot that will be eye opening about this experience for you and me and everybody else. And it’s worth talking about, because we don’t. And that’s part of the problem. So let me know what your experiences are. Let me know if I can share them, because I would like to share them in my newsletter. And if you’re not on my newsletter and you want to hear about my workshops, that is the place to find out. Because not only do I share what I’m doing and why, I also share the sign up links there. So it’s the best place to find out about them and go. Be gentle with yourself and I’ll see you next time.

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