Playing it SafeWritten by Lynn Cutts
Do you play it safe with your creativity, be it expressed through dancing, music, writing, painting, acting . . . ? Do you find yourself working with same old, comfortable people, places, and situations? Where do you hold back, or fear to tread at all? The truth is, we all play it safe: in our art, our work, and our lives. We've been taught to do so from birth. First our parents protected us from danger, then schools, society, and various government agencies took over. Now it's become a deeply ingrained, limiting habit.
Perhaps you play it safe with kind of things you create, sticking to one topic, outlet or style. Maybe you avoid uncomfortable issues in your work, situations that get just a little too real, or a character that's a little too like you. Or you have this fantastic idea that you're waiting to do because, "You're just not good enough yet." Maybe you limit yourself to local venues, or don't charge enough for your work. Or perhaps, you couldn't bring yourself to call that agent, that potential backer, that gallery, and pitch your work.
Wherever you play it safe in your creativity is also where you play it safe in life. Can't make your characters get confrontational? Well then, ask yourself, how well do you handle confrontation? Follow all rules in your painting? Where else do you blindly toe line? Can't send that demo tape into radio station? Where else do you lack confidence? There's nothing intrinsically wrong in playing it safe. We all do it in order to survive–or so we've been taught–but as we move through life, we outgrow our safety nets, just as we've outgrown our playpens and car seats. Some of us consistently choose known over unknown, small but sure return over risky investment. Others play it safe by avoiding chance of rejection, exposure, or disappointment. Sometimes we play it safe in one area of our lives so we can waltz on precipice's edge in another. But playing it safe is really taking biggest risk of all: risk that we will never learn or grow in that particular area. And those are areas where life's most precious and important lessons await.
Our Internal ClutterWritten by Lynn Cutts
Just like a disorganized closet crammed to gills with sporting goods, prom dresses, old furniture, and who knows what else, our psyches are crammed with old tapes, worries and anxieties, negative voices. We're more tuned in to messages from our past and our negative self talk than we are to our real selves. Heck, we can't even find our authentic selves in all mess.
Meanwhile, our days are crammed with too many commitments, a lack of clear goals and priorities, uncompleted projects. We spend each day running as hard as we can just to stay in place. Nothing ever feels done.
Sound familiar? Well, you're not alone. Millions of people are in same boat.
OLD TAPES. We carry a lot of old emotional baggage around with us. It's as if we have a constant film loop running in our heads that replays everything that ever went wrong in past (but omits all good stuff). That spat we had with our college roommate, guilt from a careless comment we made to a friend, hurt from not having a date for Senior Prom. things like this clutter up our thoughts and distract us from more immediate and important issues.
WORRIES: Another source of mental and emotional clutter is worry, plain and simple. We lie awake at night, what if-ing ourselves into a tizzy. We construct dire and improbable possibilities, then treat them as if they were real. We create scenarios which paralyze us with fear. When we worry, we are projecting ourselves into unknown future, instead of taking care of business in here and now.
GREMLINS: Let's not forget all those little voices in our heads. Call them Gremlins or call them negative self-talk, those negative messages we send ourselves repeatedly clutter our self-confidence, our will to go on, our courage to change. Those voices are ones that tell us we can't, we shouldn't, we're not smart enough, hard working enough, brave enough. They clutter our lives as surely as those piles of paper hiding our desk tops from view.
COMMITMENTS: We also contribute to this unnecessary mental confusion with our attempts to have it all and have it all right now! Our To Do lists are so full that there is no way we'll get to a tenth of all those tasks. We've cluttered our schedules with so many events, we don't really care about that there's no time left for things that really matter, such as ourselves, our loved ones, or chocolate.
NO CLEAR GOALS: Our plans are just as cluttered. We're too busy to set clear goals and determine priorities. We put stuff off because we are so busy, until suddenly it's been put off so long that it's become an emergency. We waste our energy putting out fires instead of preventing them. We don't know where we're going, or why, because we don't have time to stop and figure it out.
UNFINISHED PROJECTS: We have too many things going at once to see any of them through to completion. We leapfrog from one project to another. We start in on one thing and work on it until something else comes along. So we drop first one and start second, only to drop that one when yet another one seems more interesting. Soon our uncompleted projects clutter our minds and our storage space. So what's a person to do?