how to kick your stumbling block to the curb
Updated: May 4
This week I was getting ready to update “my story." Designed to showcase my experiences with my inner critic, it will end up on my website and social media.
According to all the marketing gurus it’s essential for me to share the challenges I’ve overcome and the successes I’ve experienced so that people see that I know where they are and what it feels like when you live with an overactive inner critic.
While my public stories are meant to create connections with an audience and activate the mythical SEO algorithms that guide people to my websites, what it means to me in real terms is that I might have the opportunity to do what I’m love to do: help people thrive. This makes publicly sharing my journey a high-stakes activity.
I’ve always found writing challenging. Big or small, high-stakes or a simple post, I have a tune I sing about writing: “I don’t like to write ‘cause I’m not good at writing.”
This might be a song you’re familiar with. Simply replace the ‘write’ with something that you don’t feel particularly adept at doing and voila, you’ve got your own personalized tune!
I decided to create a video for this “about me” update and minimize the writing part to simple social posts. Lots of people would be nervous about making a video but for me, writing posts felt like an uphill trek I had to train for. Maybe because it represented the start of weeks of written content creation that lay ahead of me, or simply because “I don’t like to write ‘cause I’m not good at writing.”
I wanted my story to convey a journey of transformation. How I felt then, swimming in a pool of self-doubt, and how I feel now. The swing from frightened, trapped, and ashamed to hopeful, free, and self-assured. Yet every time I started to write a post, my stomach grew hard, cold, and heavy as it foreshadowed struggles ahead.
That feeling of internal struggle is downright uncomfortable. It’s often more than only a mental discomfort because the struggle often shows up in your body too.
Maybe you’ve experienced the physical feeling of dread, or doom or constraint when facing a task. If you’re like me, though, more often than not you’ve powered through the discomfort in order to do what you need to get done. Feeling constrained and joyless and anxious the whole way.
This time when the discomfort emerged, I decided to tackle the issue with a head-on “WTH is going on here?” approach. I have a lot of writing ahead of me. While I could ignore it and push through, I thought about the physical price I would pay.
My body has learned to shout at me when it doesn’t want to do what I’m forcing myself to do. The writing would be done but at what cost? Backaches and headaches, stomach issues, maybe a cold. Nope, I didn’t want to go there. It was time to remove this obstacle.
Have you experienced physical manifestations of a stressful situation? Our body does not like us to do what we really don’t want to do.
My first step may sound familiar if you’re a fan of self-help books or pre-recorded courses. I used the same formula: start with information about the generalized underlying causes. Struggles with writing are a thing, so what do the experts have to say?
A quick google search later, and there it was, a great quote from Shondaland. Thanks, Google; what a delightful place to land.
I found an interview with different writers on being stuck. These were writers of fiction, yet much of what they said held true for my issue Including this wisdom from Sarah Gerard (author of True Love).
“It’s hard because doing it well matters, because stories matter, and the details matter, and there are often a lot of details. Sometimes they take years to organize. The feelings, ideas, and memories we put into the writing also matter and are layered, and we can’t force an understanding of them. We can only try to approach them with words, and as many words as there are to choose from or create, and despite their myriad iterations, they’re never enough."
It was reassuring to learn that it sometimes takes accomplished authors years to sort through the details and that the right word may never appear or be enough to describe the memories and emotions of the story.
Next came looking at my specifics to figure out what else might be holding me back.
Some of the more common reasons people get stuck when writing their stories include thoughts that their stories are not interesting enough, holding a fear of being judged and diminished for their work or for sharing, and not wanting to be the center of attention because they are self-conscious are common blocks.
These concerns were familiar to me. I lived most of my adult life applying these fears of not being enough to almost every situation. I also know shame. Not just in experiencing it but also in eradicating it. I’ve done it for myself and helped others release theirs. I decided