Things have been getting hard again. The daily routine has been feeling relentless. The future is still so uncertain. Everything has been seeming to take more energy that I don’t have. I’ve been grumpy and tired and not feeling like being constructive.
But it’s all in my head. And I do know that. But, sometimes, it takes a while to remember, and to give myself a nudge to change my attitude.
Everything I am doing in my life at the moment, I am choosing to do for good and positive reasons.
I work at my day job because I want to earn money, and also because I take pride in doing a good job for people I like, completing tasks that are important and that others don’t want to do. It gives me structure, and three days a week where I don’t have to decide what to do next, because it’s on a list that’s not determined by me. There’s pleasure and satisfaction in that.
I run because I want to take positive action towards getting fitter. I enjoy setting myself new challenges to run further or faster. And I want to know what happens next in Zombies Run!
I cook and do laundry and wash up because I want to provide good food for myself and my husband, because I like choosing meals and knowing what’s in them. I like the kitchen to be tidy and the crockery to be clean. And it’s nice to have clean clothes, not to mention that arranging them on the drying rack and then folding them and putting them away has become a very pleasant mindfulness exercise.
So, whilst a lot of those things can feel like burdensome obligations that I am forced into, that isn’t true. Nobody is forcing me to do any of those things. I choose to do them because I find pleasure either in the act or in the results. And it’s important to remember that.
After several runs that felt really hard and miserable, this morning I got up and ran all the way round the local park and back to the bottom of the hill without stopping for the first time ever. I have run further on other routes, but I had a mental block about the park, because it’s where I first started running, so I associate it with the activity being difficult. But I knew I could run that whole distance because I’ve done it before elsewhere. So, today, I decided I could do it - and I did! And it felt really good.
The same lesson applies to writing. Sometimes, writing feels like a chore. And I often think that if I didn’t have external deadlines (competition entries, etc), I wouldn’t do it. But I know that’s not true. Because I wrote a novel, and signed the contract last week for it to be published (YAY!). And there were no external deadlines for that. But I did it anyway, even though it was really hard, because I wanted to.
I’ve tried giving up writing before. And it doesn’t stick. There are always more ideas and more submission opportunities and more encouragement and more successes, all of which spur me on.
And, a lot of the time, I do enjoy the writing process, no matter how much I might complain about it at times!
So, I’m planning to turn my more positive attitude to my writing projects and try to inject a bit more enthusiasm, while still acknowledging that pushing myself every minute to be doing something productive is not a healthy way to be, or a route to being happy.
I’ve been looking at affirmations for a creative project this week, and one in particular has stuck with me, as being very appropriate for this attitude shift:
When you’re tired, learn to rest, not quit.
There will always be fallow periods, times during which I need to stop, take stock and recharge. But my projects and ideas and enthusiasm will always be there waiting for me, when I’m ready to come back to them. The important thing is to find a balance between working and resting, so that the cycle is more regular, rather than there being intensive periods of productivity, followed by burnout.
I’ll try to keep reminding myself to make choices for positive, rather than negative reasons. And I’ll try to keep reminding myself that I love the things I do and I do them because I want to.