500+ for 50 – day 47: beating mental blocks
Every writer goes through days when they just can’t seem to get their thoughts organized well enough to allow for their words to flow freely. You’ve all seen the images of the author sitting at his keyboard staring at the blank screen before him as he watches the nagging cursor blink repeatedly, hypnotizing him into submission. We all hit walls from time to time. Mental blocks are certainly not something unique to writers only. They happen everywhere to hardworking folks employed in countless different professions. There will be moments during our careers when we will catch fire and it will appear as though nothing can possibly disturb or discourage our efforts. But there will also days when we will find ourselves feeling that we are unable to focus…days when we will feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities and perhaps defeated before we even take action. We can’t allow for those moments to leave us immobile. We must continue forward despite the urges that we may receive to quit or retreat.
I’ve found in my life that no matter how dedicated I’ve been to my vocation I will routinely stumble unexpectedly into stubborn mental blocks without any prior warning. Sometimes these encounters will occur completely out of the blue. One day it may be a function of my general mood which has been disrupted by irregular rest, new eating habits or less exercise. And another it may be brought on by something more apparent such as the loss of a valuable client or an unforeseen financial burden at home. No matter the stimulant, there tends to be a familiar pattern with which the foundation of these mental blocks takes root. And that pattern unfolds like this: general discomfort leads to procrastination, procrastination leads a broadened fear of taking action, fear leads to a heightened emotional state and an elevated, irrational perception of the obstacles lying ahead, and that irrational perception leads to a feeling of being completely overwhelmed, ultimately resulting in shut down, or inaction.
When we shut down, we risk sacrificing all of our previously hard fought efforts to develop our pursuits for the sake of eluding one battle with fear. And that battle is one that we can generally fight and win with ease. But when our systems are polluted with discomfort, we feel less capable of initiating the fight. So rather than pursue and conquer our goals, we place them on hold until a time when we hope to feel more equipped to achieve them. And as a result of our procrastination, our tasks grow more complex in our minds with each passing hour, leaving us feeling completely intimidated by the idea of getting started. Our emotions sense our apprehension and start initiating widespread panic causing us to label ourselves as incapable of processing the tasks at hand. With a racing mind and heart sometimes our most feasible option appears to be to close the door on the day and deal with scaling that wall another time. But the longer that we wait, the steeper the climb becomes, and the more difficult it will be for us to recover our recent successes and get back on track with our purpose.
Everyone gets a case of the Mondays every now and then. Just like a writer can’t always avoid a block, some days you too will be unable to elude the fogginess and mental fatigue that will await you at the office. That part is inevitable. There’s no need to apologize for feeling the way that you do. But if you want to remain on course with your recent accomplishments and turn your day around so that you can catch fire again, you will need to remain aware of your state of mind and direct your response to it accordingly. This is not a time to begin engaging your feelings of discomfort and allowing your emotions to take over. This is a time to be honest with yourself and do whatever it takes to remain true to your commitments. The fog will pass when you begin taking action. If you procrastinate however, it will only envelop your mind further, and panic will set in as you lose sight of the wall that you had hoped to climb. So instead, give everything that you can in an effort to harness your will, and you’ll see your way over that hurdle with ease. Before you know it, you’ll be back at the top of your game without ever missing a beat.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned here on my 47th consecutive day of writing it is this…You don’t need optimal conditions to achieve your dreams. If you are passionate about what you do, your actions will carry you on days when discomfort and adversity seek to impede your progress. If you write for a living, start stroking some keys…if you’re an athlete, head out for a jog…if you’re an artist, grab a pencil and begin doodling on a tablet – the inspiration will follow, and the fog will clear. Don’t allow yourself to follow a pattern of defeat…you’ve worked too hard to get here.
May God Bless!