According to Steven Pressfield, if you sit down in the same way, with the same intention, and show up to do the work, “the muse” (as he calls it) will (eventually) show up for you.

Let’s hope so. Because I just had to start a post with that line as I’m sitting here patiently awaiting her arrival.

But oh the difference between doing that (“that” being: sitting in my husband’s old, green, hideous, but oh-so-comfortable recliner, laptop perched, WordPress open, fingers on the keys, eyes closed, knowing that something is going to have to show up here at some point) as opposed to waiting for mental lightning to strike before I become willing to work.

This sounds blatantly obvious, right?

And yet so, so, (SO) many people don’t. And here’s what it gets written off as:

  • procrastination
  • perfectionism
  • laziness
  • lack of willingness/commitment/decent work ethic
  • self-sabotage
  • mindset blocks
  • indecision
  • a million other things that make excellent fodder for Buzzfeed articles

It’s none of those things. Or rather, I know you believe it’s one of those things. Or all of them. I know I read half a library worth of books on each of these topics. 95% of them sucked and left me feeling even more messed up (because, hello, none of the books were helping!). Because those things, those feelings, are symptoms of the root issue. Effects of the underlying cause.

(As a brief cliffhanger, let me just say, phew, it would appear as though Mr. Pressfield is correct about “muses” showing up, because I had no idea what this was going to be about 4 minutes ago. Go read The War of Art if you haven’t.)

Fear. Fear is the root of every symptom that we try to hack the leaves off of. And just like any other weed, when you hack the leaves off, the roots just go deeper, and the plant comes back, and its return just makes you even more fearful because now the thing you’ve tried to make your life better isn’t working, so what the actual flip is there left to do?!

Plant a garden. Not literally, though I rather enjoy mine.

But if fear is your weed, and you keep obsessing over it (ruminating, judging, beating yourself up), you keep chopping its leaves off (“busting” your blocks, “fighting” your procrastination), you walk past the spot where it was and just KNOW it’s going to be poking its way back through within a couple days (anxiety), and you wish that one spot wasn’t there (resentment), and are dreading the potential spreading of weeds into more weeds (catastrophizing), and and and… you can either keep focusing on the weed you do have, or look at ALL the space around it (with curiosity), all the possibilities for what that area could look like (by visualizing), and go buy some damn flowers (take action).

Here’s the interesting part too: if you take good enough care of those flowers, let them grow, give THEM the time, energy, and attention they need, they’ll eventually choke out most of the weeds. (Can you tell I spent the day working outside? #saturdaymusings)

Ok, end of the metaphor.

I won’t promise that fear will never show up again, but the more focused you are on what you do want to create with your life, the less likely fear is to take a serious hold in your head and spread all over.

(Also, side note, this shift is easy to understand, but what’s not easy to do is catch all the places, all the ways, all the things you say that are actually motivated by your running away from fear [more on that here]. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you work on this; use journaling to evaluate your thoughts in black and white; and get help with it [shameless plug, I’m really good at catching this] so you can get increasingly better at focusing on what you want.)

(Ironic closing note: I stared at the end of this post for 10 minutes, trying to figure out how to close it. The muse has officially left the building, and there was an immediate “how do I close this ‘properly’? humor? more garden metaphors? Steven Pressfield quotes?” fear. Nope, none of those. Transparency. Non-judgmental awareness. I’ve got better things to do than freaking out over how to end a blog post.)

The end.