Many readers of this blog know my colleague Joshua Home Edwards who handles the technical aspects of my interactive teleseminars and has provided invaluable advice. Joshua introduced me to Gina Maria Mele, who does fascinating work with people’s belief systems. I asked her how she might apply her work to writer’s block and here’s her response:
Lisa: Gina, many aspiring authors get stuck. One of the most common blocks is that deep down they don’t feel safe fully expressing themselves.
Gina: That fear comes from fear of rejection, which usually goes back to childhood. In some survival capacity, even as an infant you knew it was important to not be rejected by your parents because you depended on them for survival. Now, as an adult, your subconscious, the feeling part of you, can’t make the distinction that it’s okay to be rejected, because you are not dependent on your parents anymore.
This subconscious fear of rejection is present when you take the risk of expressing yourself in writing. There are a number of specific limiting thoughts or beliefs that support feeling fear when expressing yourself.
Lisa: What are they?
Gina: “It’s not safe to express myself.” “It’s not okay to be me.” “If I make a mistake, I’ll be rejected.”
Lisa: So how might you address and shift such a belief?
Gina: Often, when you realize what is underneath the emotions that are blocking you from writing and you bring these beliefs to your conscious, the beliefs lighten their hold on you and sometimes go away completely. Here’s just one technique I use that doesn’t require a facilitator:
1. Find a quite place where you can be alone and not be interrupted.
2. Have a pen and paper nearby.
3. Take a deep breath in, feeling the air fill your lungs.
4. Exhale. Feel the air coming out through your nose.
5. Notice what part of you is feeling, “It is not safe to express myself”
6. Ask that part of yourself, “What do you have to say?”
7. Listen. Write down the response.
8. Again, ask the part that is feeling, “It is not safe to express myself,” “What do you have to say?” Listen. Again, write down the response.
9. Repeat this process as many times as is necessary to get to a place where you have nothing left to write down. This process will help you uncover the subconscious thoughts blocking the writing and bring them to your awareness, so they lose their threat and lighten their grip.
Lisa: It seems this could work with many unconscious beliefs and self-doubts. Some other common blocks I hear from authors are “Who would want to read what I have to say? Or hasn’t it been said better before than I can do?”
Gina: You can this method I shared with limiting beliefs about self-worth, too.
Lisa: How about procrastination? Where would you say that comes from?
Gina: Limiting beliefs that support procrastination include: I’m not good enough. Nothing I do is good enough. I’m not capable. I’m a failure.
Lisa: Yuck. No wonder someone would procrastinate if they believe those things—and I guess at some level a part of us often has one or more of these at work.
Gina: Yes, you can use the same method I suggested to bring their specific beliefs to light and loosen their grip, or even have them go away.
Lisa: How about perfectionism?
Gina: Perfectionism is just another form of procrastination–a way your ego protects you from limiting, subconscious thoughts about yourself. Because, guess what? If you have to do things perfectly, then you can always be protected from failing and feeling the pain of failing. Since you can never quite attain perfection, this keeps you safe and stuck. Just like the other challenges, perfectionism stems from limiting, subconscious thoughts you have about yourself.
Gina: “Mistakes and failure are bad.” “I’m not competent.” “I’m inadequate.” “If I don’t get it perfect, I’ll fail.”
Lisa: So readers can see if any of these resonate and try the method you shared at the beginning of this post?
Lisa: Thank you Gina for this new way of looking at writer’s block. How can readers get in touch with you?