It’s time to overcome our limits and embrace a sense of possibility in week five, part two of The Artist’s Way Challenge! In part two of each week, I’m sharing the creative exercises from The Artist’s Way and some of my experiences with the process. Activities like these encourage self-discovery and help us realize our true potential. This week’s key topic was how we limit our potential, especially when we allow the worst offender of all to take hold of us, self-sabotage. To recap, week five of The Artist’s Way course was, “Recovering a Sense of Possibility.” Cameron wrote,
“This week…You will explore how you curtail your own possibilities by placing limits on the good you can receive…You may find yourself thinking about radical changes, no longer ruling out your growth by making others the cause of your construction.”
Why Do We Limit Ourselves?
There are often many factors at play, including upbringing, mindset, self-worth, and feelings of responsibility toward other people. Cameron states,
“Many of us have made a virtue out of deprivation…We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish. We want to be generous, of service, of the world. But we really want to be left alone. When we can’t get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves.”
Don’t fall into the “virtue trap.” We need to be there for the people we love, but make sure you’re leaving some quality time for yourself too.
I completed my morning pages this week, though I continued my habit of writing them at night on some days. I’ve started a new morning routine recently, though, and so far it’s going well. My morning pages are a part of this routine, so I expect to be more consistent with them. Otherwise, no recent developments. I’m continuing to use them as my daily self-therapy sessions.
My Artist Date
I didn’t do my Artist Date this week because of some personal matters. I wasn’t avoiding it (resisting), so I feel okay with picking things back up next week.
Task One: Reasons Against Belief in a Supportive God
In task one, Cameron asks us to list five grievances against a supportive God. I believe this task is tricky to respond to because spirituality is complicated. Some of us don’t believe in a God at all. Others don’t take their next step without praying on it first. Cameron considers God the source of our sense of possibility.
Is God all-knowing and all-seeing? Or did the source create us and leave us to our devices? How were we created if there is no God, and how was God created if there is one?
I don’t proclaim to know if a God exists. I always considered myself somewhere in the middle regarding such beliefs. Agnostic, if you will. So depending on your views, this task could go several ways.
I’ve always been a big proponent of self-accountability, so I seldom reflect on God’s role in our lives. That’s not exactly a grievance, though. If I had any grievance, it would probably be with the all-knowing and all-loving version of God. I find it odd that this God would provide miracles for some people, but not for others. I know the belief exists that we can’t know God’s plan, but sometimes the cruelty of this world doesn’t sit well with that thought.
Task Two: Begin to Collect Image Files
Most of you are probably familiar with The Secret by Rhonda Byrne or The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks. These and similar books suggest we can have anything we desire if we want it strongly enough and can cast aside our doubts. Here’s an article that offers a similar system: A Sceptic’s Guide to Manifestation.
I don’t believe in magic, but it’s never wrong to reframe our negative thoughts into positive ones. If nothing else, it sets us up to be more successful in performing the actions we need to take to manifest our desires. It gives us a real sense of possibility.
In task two, Cameron poses the statement:
If I Had Either Faith or Money, I Would Try…
And we are to list five things and collect images of them, much like a vision board. If I had more faith in myself, I would attempt to write a novel. It’s something I will do “someday,” but thus far, I haven’t been able to wrap my head around the complexity. Or I’m making it harder than it needs to be. I highly suspect that as I continue to improve as a writer and find different ways to share my voice, I’ll figure it out. I do plan to take part in NaNoWriMo this year.
If I had money (or rather more money), I would buy a house.
Task Three: Five More Imaginary Lives
Five more lives?! Fortunately, I have many interests. Cameron also asks us, “Have they changed?” and I thought, “Could I have chosen the same five each time?!” Either way, it’s no issue. I just figured we were to choose five different ones each time. Plus, it was fun to consider the other possibilities. Here’s this week’s five:
- Particle physicist
- Winery Owner and Operator
- Life Coach
Cameron also asks if we’ve continued to include pieces of these lives in our day-to-day activities. I read a lot about science, and I’ve been watching my nutrition more closely recently if that counts. Life coaching is an interesting one. I wouldn’t call myself one quite yet, but I hope I’m offering a unique voice. Only time will tell.
Task Four: If I Were Twenty and Had Money
Task four is like task two, but Cameron asks us:
If you were twenty and had money…
And we are to list five adventures we might partake in and collect images of them.
At twenty, I would have travelled the world in luxurious style. No backpacking it for that girl! I also would’ve wasted my money on a bunch of crap I didn’t need. That’s the cool part about aging. You gain wisdom in a lot of different ways and learn what’s genuinely vital in life. If you can manage that when you’re young, you’re way ahead of the game.
Task Five: If I were Sixty-Five and Had Money
One more task in a similar form. Cameron asks:
If you were sixty-five and had money…
And we are to list five postponed pleasures and collect images of them. I’ve had to postpone travel for many reasons recently, so it ended up on this list as well. There are so many places I’d like to visit, but my number one bucket list item is to attend the La Tomatina Festival in Spain. I’d have visited this year if Covid hadn’t ruined all the fun. Ballroom dancing is at the top of my list too. It would be fun to start that up again. I would think I’d have a house by then.
Task Six: Ten Ways I am Mean to Myself
Who here is mean to themselves?
I’ve made many strides in treating myself with kindness, but it’s still challenging at times. These days, I mainly berate myself when I’m not as productive as I would like. When you’re self-employed, you don’t have as much time to waste. I also wrestle with being kind to myself over my body image. I’ve never been able to get used to my weight gain, and my discipline to keep it in line has fluctuated over the years. A couple more ways in which I’m a jerk to myself:
- Calling myself stupid
- Chastising myself for past decisions
- Telling myself I can’t do something (sometimes before I even attempt it)
Here’s an article I found on Life Hack, which includes some effortless ways to be kind to yourself: Do These 20 Simple Things. I’m partial to #7. Finally, please check out Atomic Habits by James Clear if you’re having trouble setting healthy habits or getting rid of unhealthy ones. It’s a gem. It will help you discover a sense of possibility.
Task Seven: Ten Items I would Like to Own
We all have wants and needs, so this task is straightforward. Cameron asks you to list ten items you would like to own and collect images of those items. Here were a few of mine:
- My Own Home
- A Stargazer Lily Plant
- A Bat Necklace, like the one I lost at a concert a few years ago
Task Eight: My favorite Creative Block
What do you do to avoid your creative spirit (or whatever goal or dream you hold)?
I’m working on being as committed as possible, but I still overindulge in TV and social media. I’ve been trying to limit my TV time by turning it on later in the evening. The problem is, I’m most productive from about 8 pm-2 am, and I like a bit of background noise. When I’m craving that noise, I try to put on movies or TV shows I’ve already seen a hundred times, so I’m not as tempted to focus on the screen. Otherwise, I try to plan my TV viewing by allowing myself to watch a movie or a couple of TV shows per sitting.
Social media is still a work in progress, but all the political divisiveness going on right now has certainly helped me limit my time on these apps.
Task Nine: What is Your Payoff for Staying Blocked
Cameron has previously discussed how we often hold on to our bad habits because we’re receiving a strong enough payoff. For instance, a smoker who understands how smoking can affect their long-term health may still continue smoking because it relieves their daily stress.
Here, Cameron asks us to examine our payoffs for staying creatively blocked. How are you limiting yourself? Do you feel undeserving of success?
For me, Fear is a significant block with my writing. I avoided turning writing into a career for a long time because I was afraid of failure. What if I wasn’t good enough to write professionally? What would I do with myself then?
Work on altering the scarcity mindset. A sense of possibility means success is available to all of us, be it financially, in love, or any other undertaking. It may not come to us in the exact ways we expected, but it will come if we let it.
Task Ten: The Person I blame For Being Blocked
This one is easy: me. Are there people out there who have done or said things that might have contributed to my negative self-worth somehow? Sure, humans can be cruel. But I don’t want to surround myself with such people anymore. Life is tough enough. I want to surround myself with people who raise me up and give me fair, constructive criticism. People who give me a sense of possibility. Cast out the rest! It’s not worth it.
Final Thoughts (Check-In)
Is it possible to do anything we set our minds to?
Yes and No.
Limitations exist. We can’t all be professional athletes, CEOs, or A-list actors. The concept of limitations can be particularly difficult for someone if they tie their identity to what they hope to accomplish. Consider the budding athlete who experiences a career-ending injury and must figure out what to do with the rest of their life.
A sense of possibility means we can do our best to set ourselves up for success by creating healthy habits and taking proactive steps toward our goals. There isn’t one road to success, though. Success won’t necessarily come in the neat little package we had in our heads. Often, we must adjust our ideas of success and be willing to open ourselves up to alternate paths in life.
You can find my previous Artist’s Way posts below: