Does anyone else put the needs of others before your own need to write?

When I invited members of this community to send your obstacles to writing last week, a long-time student and friend, sent me this list:

  • Procrastination
  • ALWAYS putting needs of my family (and extended family) first
  • Lack of trust in my abilities.

Any of these sound familiar?

I’m will address #2 today and tackle those other elephants in later message.

If you are a woman, odds are that putting others before yourself is a habit. It’s your default position, your brain running on automatic. Habits are a literally a function of the autonomic nervous system, which is why they are so hard break. You have them not because you are weak, but because the mind develops them to conserve energy.

The healthy first step in breaking a habit is to stop judging yourself for it.

I can tell you from my own experience and observing hundreds of artists and writers over the past twenty years, self-flagellation will not get you the results you desire.

The next step in breaking a habit is becoming aware of it in the moment and taking note of your emotions and bodily sensations.

Odds are you do not like those emotions or bodily sensations. As you develop a greater awareness of how crappy it makes you feel, both emotionally and physically, to put aside your own need to write, eventually you will catch yourself before the “yes” has chance to pop out of your mouth.

Imagine what it would feel like to put your own needs on the top of your to-do list every day. Scary, right?

But then imagine having enough space in your life, not to chain yourself to a desk, but to feel open and free enough to see what wants to emerge on the page.