Finding Balance Is A Messy Process - HELP! This one's a bit of a Brain Dump ...

  • I haven't been on the forums much since the new year because I've been doing a lot of planning, and it's proving a lot harder than I expected to find balance in my life between art and personal growth.

    I've been here before and know this super confusing phase is actually part of the process of finding balance, but this one feels more intense than normal and I can tell I need to make a really difficult decision but something is holding me back.

    I'm struggling and I'm just going to write the words out and see what I say and hope you can help with any advice at all.

    I do automatic writing each morning while still half asleep, and it has been telling me lately that I need to play more and keeps saying to focus on studying. I have so many things I want to do, like I'm sure you do too, but I know we can't do everything … but How do you work out what you should be doing? and what do you do, when you know deep in your heart what you should be doing, but feel like you can't because your mind is saying you should be doing all these other things too?

    Why do I feel like I need to be making videos, Podcasts, Social media etc etc?
    Why can't I just say, no … don't do anything but studying for the next year.
    Why can't I do that when I know that's what I want and know that is what will be best for me?

    I just want to be ok with taking a year out to study. I am at a point in my life where I can do that, and the way I've set up my day job now means I have so much free time to study if I just allow myself to focus. At the moment I am too distracted by the feeling I should be doing all these others tings.

    I want to cut everything out of my life for a year or so, apart from two main things

    1. Studying (with SVS and various Books I've purchased)
    2. Going deep into my Lucid Dream Practice

    Thing is, something is holding me back. My automatic writing did say, you need to share your experiences. So I want to be plopping videos out from time to time about what I'm learning and stuff, because it is an important part of the process I think and I do enjoy making videos/podcasts but the truth is … I don't want to be forced into doing it. If I want to spend a month drawing and not doing any videos, how can I be ok with that? Because at the moment, I would feel guilty.

    Than I ask, Who is saying we need to be doing all these things? Do I even need to be doing these things?

    I think I do, because in a years time, I will have a different perspective on tings, and would rather talk about stuff as I'm learning, because it will be more relatable to someone else who is also learning, but again, it takes time.

    I started a podcast last year and as an introvert, it was a way for me to prove to myself that I can do something like this, because I know being social and putting yourself out there will be part of being a successful Artist. It terrified me, but I did it, and I enjoy it... but again, it takes time.

    Part of me thinks now is a period to play. Like, the other night I watched the SVS Sculpting class and have since purchased some clay and am going to sculpt a lilSOPHIE character. I am so excited, I never would have thought about sculpting.

    Thing is, the plan yesterday was to record a video, but I didn't because I was out buying clay. I felt guilty, but I want to be free to explore, experiment and play.

    I know this is maybe a silly thread because it's all in my head, I need to flick that switch that says … YES, it's ok to take a year out and play. If I could allow myself to do this, why can't I? I guess only I can answer this, but do you have any advice at all?

    I'm also working on my mind and social skills with various spiritual practices as I have a lot of issues that still need work which I know will hold me back in the future, especially as I'm transgender and currently going through my transition, so the spiritual practice is key, but this takes time … I have enough time to do my spiritual stuff and studying, without feeling time pressures, but I think anything else will impact these other two areas … so I have to say no to a lot of stuff. I know this in my heart. I also know it's only no for now, not forever, yet it's still confusing.

    My automatic said finding balance is a messy process … it really is.

  • Writing things out is a good way to think about things, and you've already decided on what is important for you this year, so you are off to a good start!

    It sounds like you are already headed this way, but you could make a list of all the things you want to do, and the things you feel like you should do, and explore how you feel about them and why.

    You mentioned feeling guilty about things a few times. What are the expectations / pressures you're feeling? Why do you think you feel that way? Sometimes digging down to the root of things can help.

    Something that helps me is to think about my expectations, and ask myself if it's really reasonable, then consciously choose another set of expectations.

    Acknowledging how you feel is important. I have a friend who was struggling with negative thoughts. She learned something that helped her a lot, which was to say or think (in reply to the negative thought) "Thank you for sharing, I choose to think otherwise." Instead of trying to suppress the thought or shove it away--you deal with it by recognizing that you have the power to choose what you want to focus on. Maybe you could modify this for your situation. Something like, "That would be a good thing to do. Right now, I'm going to stay focused on my goals."

    You could also try writing down all the things you are feeling pressure to do (but want to set aside for this year), and then put them all in a box or envelope, and tell yourself that they will all be waiting there for you next year, so you don't have to worry about them anymore. You could even make a note on your calendar to open the box / envelope & see what you wrote down. Whenever your mind starts to wander toward one of those things, you can remind yourself that it's safely waiting for you in the box / envelope.

    Good luck!

  • SVS OG

    Perhaps you can fulfill both your desire to share things and your period of study by thinking in terms of long-term sharing rather than immediate sharing. The online culture has caught us all in a trap of immediacy but if you think about artists, writers, and other creative types who lived before the advent of the internet, they often spent a year or more producing their work before ever showing it to the public. Spiritual people also often spent time in seclusion in order to assist the quality of their discernment. I think sharing what you are doing with the public is an important part of the artistic process which is why you are sensing that in your automatic writing but sharing doesn't have to happen immediately. You could keep a journal or record your process on video but keep it private for the moment, and then use that as raw material later when you return to a public presence. That will also allow you time to reflect so that when you do share it, it will be stronger. To give yourself further permission to do that, you could announce on your social media platforms that you will be absent for a period of .... in order to advance your studies.

    It sounds like you are not only desiring time to learn art skills but also time and space to develop your skills of discernment and I think discernment will require retreat.

    I don't know if any of that helps, but I'm also certain that creativity often begins in chaos so you are on the right road if things feel confusing right now!

  • Pro

    A year to study, and making videos about what you learned? I feel like you have a solid plan, but you're putting too much pressure on yourself. You feel like if you're going to be studying, you should be 100% focused on only that or it's not going to work for you, and if you make videos you have to document everything and if you don't you're failing. As you said, it's all about finding balance.

    You said: " I don't want to be forced into doing it." But why not? The word "forced" is a really negative one, when really all you would be doing is setting yourself a goal and getting into the habit of maintaining that. Learning to be consistent in a way that doesn't feel like you're pulling your hair out is incredibly important to be a professional artist! The key is to set yourself a reasonable goal, like say, one video a month. And then you plan things out so that you don't miss that, but you have enough time that if one day you step out to buy clay you won't feel guilty about not working on it that day - you can just do it the next day. Make yourself a schedule that works for you and isn't overwhelming so you don't feel like you have to force yourself too much to get it done. Maybe week 1 is coming up with what you're going to talk about and writing your plan or talking points, week 2 is filming it, week 3-4 is editing it, or something like that.

    And then maybe once the year is done you feel comfortable enough in that routine to start adding another video per month, another... something else, but it is important to be comfortable with something small before you add more, or you're just putting too much on your shoulders. I remember @Will-Terry talking about how in school he couldn't spend more than a couple hours on a painting before he couldn't stand it anymore, then he started spending 4 hours, then 6, and a few years later he was spending like 20-30 hours on a single spread. It's a bit different but the analogy still works, you have to build up those things slowly, and along the way teach yourself that you're capable of doing it. Once he first spent 4 hours on a drawing he set a precedent that he's able to work on a drawing for 4 hours. Once you do 1 video a month for a year without missing 1, you teach yourself that you're capable of sticking to a consistent schedule and not tear your hair out, and that's an important foundation to start building more on it. If you start with studying and making a video every week and 2 months later you've failed your goal, you're inadvertently teaching yourself that you can't do it. The feeling of failure is then what causes to feel pressure, feel guilty when you fall short of your expectations, and feel "forced" to do it. When really... you aren't forced at all! Not everyone does videos (I don't!) and you want to do them because it's something that you like, right? Something that helps your learning process, something that in the back of your mind you keep coming back to because your brain is telling you it's important. When did it become something that you feel "forced" to do, and what happened to make it so? It's something to reflect on... and to not let happen again!

  • @miriam I love this!

    Physically placing them in a box / envelope sounds very powerful.

    Also love the idea of saying, thank you. I wonder so often, where do thoughts come from, because I know a lot of my thoughts are not mine. Thoughts fascinate me because they too are so powerful, but a lot of them seem to be fear based.

    Thank you for you time and advice Miriam.

  • @demotlj I just had to look up the word discernment … yes. That word is perfect and so important right now, as I've noticed I struggling to make decisions. It's funny you said about retreat too… I keep feeling I need it, if I could click my fingers and vanish for a month I would 🙂 but than, I can lol so maybe I should. Part of me feels like retreating is going backwards, even though I know it's not. I think I'm also scared, what if I retreat and don't want to come back 🙂 Maybe I have to accept that possibility too.

    I think Miriam is right, I just need to sit and deeply think about why I feel guilty about not doing certain things right now. On the Lean Into Art Podcast they once said about asking why … they said keep asking why till you can't ask it anymore, than you have your true answer. I need to do that.

    I really liked when you said Sharing doesn't have to happen immediately. It's true, but Why do I feel like it does? Weird isn't it, the mind. Makes you believe so many lies.

    Thank you for replying Laurie 🙂

  • @nessillustration wow Ness, thank you.

    You've hit the nail on the head … I was trying to do too much, too soon. I can see that now.

    My automatic writing even said the other day, "Doing less, may be the way to get more done … " which I thought was kind of funny at the time, like a paradox 🙂 I didn't really understand what it meant till you just said about doing one video a month instead of one a week 🙂 I just thought one a month wouldn't be good enough, but it would wouldn't it? 🙂

    Got to Baby Step this adventure lol

    Thank you Ness.

  • Pro

    @sophie-lawson I should try this automatic writing thing, seems to be really enlightening!!

  • The advice everyone is offering seems really helpful (to anyone who has read it!), and the way you have so openly shared your situation seems very beautiful to me too.

    I've been at a place before of experiencing guilt for not accomplishing more of what I set out for myself. My overall goal was to be of service to others, but I realized that my motivation had been skewed by a sense of what I thought others expected of me. When, through reflection, it clicked that my motivation wasn't pure, I scaled back on activities and commitments (to myself and others) for a solid year. I said no to a bunch of stuff, and it was tremendously difficult because saying no is really unnatural for me. I used to feel like, to be a good person, I needed to say yes to everything (even to my own hopes and dreams). Once I scaled back, I realized how burnt out I had been. It's still a struggle of mine, but giving myself that break and "wiping the slate clean", so to speak, has let me slowly write into my life what I think are the most important commitments.

    Anyway, this may be quite different from your own story, but I thought I'd share to stand with you in solidarity. The fact that you are letting yourself explore your life challenges instead of burying them is inspirational to me. All the best!

  • @nessillustration Ness... I highly recommend Automatic Writing. It's pretty insane at times what it brings up.

    I learnt about it via the Inspire Nation Shows - AWE (Automatic Writing Experience) Course

    It's a really nice course, helped me a lot. They ease you in via this 30 day challenge, starting with 5 minute sessions each morning and building up to 30minutes (hey, just realised, they did the baby step approach like you said about and it worked 🙂 ) I started it 322 days ago and I've been able to do it every morning since, thanks to the way they set the course up.

    I 'm convinced you're communicating with a higher being at times. Certainly some of the wisdom that comes out of these sessions are not from me. Even if you are just talking to yourself though, it works 🙂

    What's cool is, I saw a Proko video the other day on YouTube about Automatic Drawing! I was like, woohoo, so I've been trying that since, haven't made it a habit yet, but it seems pretty cool, more relaxing than insightful, but it's a fun lil drawing exercise to do for 5 minutes here and there; I normally do it when I'm sat in the laundrette 🙂

  • @kathrynadebayo Thank you Kathryn

    What techniques did/do you use for your reflection?

    Saying no is hard for me too. I always used to say yes when people asked me if I could do a drawing for them, because I thought, like you said, I can't say no, it will upset them. In about 2016 I realised, I was upsetting these people by saying yes, because I never did the drawings for them because I had no real interest in doing them, I was only saying yes to please them, so, ironically, it was the saying yes that resulted in upsetting them more than if I had just said no at the start.

    Funny! It was funny when I worked that one out in my head … like some sort of positive seeming but negative resulting paradox type action thing lol The way we work/ our mind is so complicated, but I find it incredibly fascinating.

  • I think the need to be on social media is drilled into us "if we want to be successfull" But the truth is we need to learn our craft to be Successful. Yes there is a need for social media, but i don't think it should distract from the learning.

    Your guilt tells be that you feel you 'owe it' to others to make videos (etc) But the truth is, you don't owe anyone.SWAT.
    And spending time in meditation/self reflection/therapy might help you discover why you subconously feel this way.
    Personally if i were you i'd make a very clear (video) announcment explaining that you are taking a year break. That you'll maybe do insta stories of the 'artistis play' that you do? And that when you are ready to come back to making videos you'll be more experaniced and ready to make new, quality content!

    You first.

    Good luck ^_^

  • Pro

    @nizhoniwolf I agree and disagree with you at the same time. Yes we don't owe anyone anything and if we feel guilty for not posting because we feel we owe it to our audience, there's a big problem. However, that's not exactly what I got from Sophie. It seems that sharing her journey helps her in her learning process and that's why she wants to make the videos. I think she's putting a bit too much pressure on herself, but she never said she felt forced to make them for others, more that she wanted to do them for herself. And if that's the case, being on social media early in your career or even before you start you career can be an enormous asset! I started my social media at the same time I started working, which means I started my career at zero. But I had made art for over 10 years at that point and wished many times I had posted and documented my process. Not only so I could look back at in later, but because people like accompanying you on your learning journey and I could have started my career with a built-in audience of thousands if I'd started early, instead of zero. That would have been a huge advantage especially in the beginning!

  • SVS OG

    @nessillustration I think guilt comes when we set too high of a bar for ourselves. I also have had times I felt a lot of guilt if not constantly doing something productive. It's always hard to manage freedom of time. It's much easier to follow a structured plan all layed out, IMO. I set myself projects and a time to do them. Sometimes it ends up being a day later but, it gets done. I have a lot of time on my hands as my husband retired and we live in a fifth wheel, we are learning how to use our time in meaningful ways but it has been an adjustment. I don't know if I've said anything helpful but, those are some of my thoughts. Why should you feel guilty? There may be no reason at all. If there is, you'll know why and can then address it wish you the best. You're obviously working hard on figuring things out 😀

  • @nessillustration I think you've summed up the conflict in my head perfectly Ness.

    Thanks to everyone's advice, I've shifted some things around a bit by starting studying sessions one hour later, with bedtime being one hour earlier … so I get more sleep to focus on Lucid Dreaming, and also, like you said before … instead of trying to do everything at once, I'm focusing on one lil ting at a time. Baby Steps.

    Thank you for helping me.

    It's just like you said, a lot of this documenting stuff is actually a good way of learning and more just an excuse to push myself out of my comfort zone with various social anxiety issues, so maybe that's where the conflict really lies.


    It's always fear when you drill down far enough. I almost wonder if I piled everything on at once to make myself fail so I would give up and not have to put myself in the uncomfortable space.

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