Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Your Lazy Friend Bob

We all have that friend who, when it comes to creating, is "lazy." They mope around complaining about this or that, how the stars aren't aligned right to paint or how they just have to finish watching this TV show before they can sit down to write. Your friend also probably complains about not having enough time to create, even though they're on FB or twitter constantly clicking their digital crops or fighting the undead or resharing inspirational quotes/petitions/photos with black frames and white text underneath.

Your friend probably even knows that they're not getting enough work done. Frankly, it's almost certain when pressed, they'll lament their own perceived laziness. They obviously want to create, but they are just locked in a seemingly never-ending struggle to the death with their laziness.

Fret not, intrepid readers, as there is hope for your friend. The thing that you have to realize is that your friend isn't lazy. What we most often regard of as laziness is actually fear. Yes, fear, our constant frenemy that helps to keep us from walking into a bear cave, yet plagues us when we want to do our creative work.

You see, laziness is the cover, fear's camouflage, if you will. What is known as laziness is really symptoms and actions of self-preservation. Whether its the fear that your creation won't be up to par, or the fear that it will be, or the fear that it'll shock and offend, or the fear that no one will notice it, when you are so scared of the pain of confronting your fear, you stall. However your friend does this, they're stalling for tine to get out of having to face that pain. Pain hurts. Whether its this ball of twisting anxiety in your chest (like it is for Monkey), or a clenching in your stomach or that kink in your neck, the anxiety towards creating can be very real and uncomfortable. However, you can only confront our so-called "laziness" by confronting this pain and fear.

A technique that we like is called the "What are you afraid of? Why is that a problem?" game (super thoughtful title, we know). Whenever your friend is experiencing that fear of creating, ask them (or have them ask them self) " What are you afraid of?" Once they respond, the next question becomes "Why is that a problem?" To their response, ask again, "Why is that a problem?" You keep repeating this question again and again until they realize how their fears are usually conjured up to be something terrible when in reality it's not so bad. And if their fears do stem from something traumatic, then you at least know what you're dealing with.

An example. Bob wants to paint, but is "too lazy" to get out his paint set-up. "What are you afraid of, Bob?"
"I might have to do work and get all my crap together to paint."
"Why is that a problem?"
"It's hard work."
"Why is that a problem?"
"I don't like hard work."
"Why is that a problem?"
"It makes me get up and do something."
"Why is that a problem?"
"If I get up and do work, and it ends up sucking, I'd hate it."
"Why is that a problem?"
"It would suck. I'd hate the idea that I wasted some time."
"Why is that a problem?"
"Because if it sucks, then it'll prove that I'm a terrible frickin' artist."

Oh will it now? Bob just realized that in the end, it is not about laziness like he thought. It's not laziness at all, but in fact a deeply-hidden insecurity. To work past this issue, it's not so much dealing with helping Bob get off the couch, but actually dealing with the fact that Bob is afraid of work that doesn't live up to his expectations will "prove" that he is a bad artist. What Bob needs to do is let himself make bad art on purpose to show himself that everything he creates does not have to be a masterpiece. He needs to let go and find what makes art fun again so that he won't be afraid to create those masterpieces that he so obviously longs for.

While your own friend's experience might not be the exact same issue, it's worth it to sit down with yourself and do this exercise in the privacy of your own home. Ask the questions and answer it out loud. Do it in the shower if you need some privacy. It really helps a lot to determine what the real issues are so you can start combating them directly and get back to what you're meant to do: creating.