I’ve struggled to be creative and productive recently.
Sometimes too much life happens.
My Dad passed away a few weeks ago. He had a brain tumour and things declined over the last few months of his life. His passing was peaceful, though, and I am grateful that he was surrounded by his loved ones at the time.
I’ve found it really hard to concentrate throughout this period of the last few months. Few people knew what was going on. Dad was a private person. He was also a gentle soul. He preferred to keep things in the family and within a close circle of friends.
Times like these, which are mostly unexpected, fill our minds with lots of stuff. It can feel like things are swirling around in the mind and you just can’t grab hold of anything in particular, even when you need to make a simple decision like what to have for dinner.
It’s like trying to focus on a point but it’s just too fuzzy. You grit your teeth to concentrate in the hope the determination will make some of the fuzziness dissipate. It helps a bit but it’s tiring and hard to keep up.
I think the mind only has so much room. Once the space gets all taken up, each thing that demands attention gets a little less energy.
I haven’t done any social media posts nor made any videos for over 2 months. These are things I usually do about two or three times a week. I started 2022 with the goal to write a new blog each week. I managed 42 in 42 weeks, but this is my first for three weeks. I’ve called it No.45 so it still makes sense in the heading when I reach week 52 of the year.
It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write nor even that I didn’t have the time. I just couldn’t think of anything to say.
That’s how having too much going on can hamper creativity. Creativity needs a bubbling cup. That’s how I think of it. It’s like a bubbling, frothy, colourful cauldron of energy and ideas, with smoke and coloured sparks bubbling out of it. That’s how I sometimes see my mind. A thought picks up some of the energy and it starts to coalesce into a thread of an idea or sentence. Recently it’s felt like a rectangular block of cold steel on a cloudy day.
I usually find writing quite easy. Once I get going on a topic, words and ideas flow, insights abound, and I enjoy seeing the direction it takes.
But over these past few weeks, I’ve found myself sitting in front of my laptop staring at the screen. I’m waiting on something happening, as if the words are going to write themselves. Usually they do, sort of.
The Delete key has seen the most action of any on my keyboard. I’ll typically write a few lines and then I’ll feel that something important is missing. Only, I couldn’t seem to figure out what it is. So I’ll hit Delete. I’ve started writing on five different topics over the last three weeks, but I never got through more than two or three paragraphs.
Until now. This is the first time I’ve managed to keep going. I’ve needed time to let things settle a bit.
I thought I’d write about some of my experience because I think a lot of readers might relate to it, now and in the future. I think we find healing in seeing that others have, or have had, the same experience.
This whole experience has got me focusing more on going easy on myself. I write and speak a lot about the subject of kindness; how it affects both mental and physical health. Usually when we think about kindness, the mind goes direct to what you might do for someone. Kindness naturally seeks a target. Rarely do we consider that we need to make ourselves the target sometimes and that it’s OK to do so.
Self-kindness, or self-care, is crucial because it supports mental health. Pushing ourselves too hard and not resting or doing what we need to do to support our health can be damaging.
How much self kindness required is not the same from one person to the next. Neither is it the same from one week to the next. Sometimes, depending on the context of our lives, we need a lot. At other times, we don’t need much at all.
There’s a sweet spot to be found that changes from time to time. Sometimes it’s closer to the Self, sometimes further away. It depends. There’s no hard and fast rule that says a person requires a certain amount of self kindness.
Recently, I’ve needed quite a bit. I had a lot to deal with, plus work to do through this recent time, so I’ve needed to refill my own cup. That’s meant that even though I’ve had a backlog of things piling up, I’ve needed to do less.
It’s meant sometimes saying no when I previously said yes; it’s meant not responding to some emails or other messages. I get clusters and sometimes too many. But it’s not possible to give others time that I need for myself, lest my cup runs empty.
I turn inward at times like these and withdraw from the outward world. I intuitively recognise that self kindness requires me to stop. It invites me to meditate more. It shows me changes I need to make, priorities I need to shift, things I need to reorganise.
The focus of self kindness needs to be the Self.
For the sake of your health.
If you feel you need it, I invite you to practice a little bit of self kindness today. And consider that there is such a sweet spot. Knowing it exists makes it easier to know when you need self kindness.
Consider where it may be for you right now. Do you need a lot of self kindness or just a little bit?
And however much you need, you deserve it.