This article was originally published in Project Simplify’s newsletter, The Simplifier #4.7.
Youâ€™ve Got to Clear Your Throat if You Want to Sing Your Song
by Shawn Tuttle
"Why donâ€™t you believe youâ€™re ready? Donâ€™t you hear all the great things coming out of your mouth?!"
This was the question I wanted to ask my good friend Leila. â€œIt makes no sense!â€ I thought. But I get ahead of myself.
Leila has healing, compassionate work to share with the world. For people who have complicated relationships with their bodies, her work is a blessing that can change lives. Through yoga, breath work, essences, and a number of other modalities, she helps people feel comfortable with themselves.
Her successful experience as a yoga teacher makes workshops that combine yoga with other methods the obvious next step. Talking with Leila earlier this month, however, revealed she was at a standstill. She was not manifesting her beautiful ideas. Her mind had done a great job of convincing her that, for one reason or another, she wasnâ€™t ready.
Listening to her concerns and mental roadblocks was like playing back the tapes of my own experience as I struggled with my first workshop offerings years ago:
"I donâ€™t want to commit. What if itâ€™s the wrong thing?"
"Iâ€™ll do it after I get more credentials and training."
"I want to put the program together first."
"There are so many things to include, I donâ€™t know how to incorporate them all into the program yet."
"I havenâ€™t decided which demographic to work with; there are so many."
Everybody has these thoughts; some of them have merit, some are just excuses. But whatever they are, if we donâ€™t wrangle them down, they will tie us up in knots.
By putting off our aspirations for another year, our gifts stay securely and safely tucked away. No risk required. Whether writing an article, starting a blog, submitting a painting to a contest, joining a choir, or offering a workshop like Leila, putting ourselves out there can make us feel as if our very soul is on the line. Why expose our hearts to the unforgiving glare of critics and strangers?
Sure itâ€™s uncomfortable. But how else do you get the opportunity to grow in such an enormously satisfying way? How else can you genuinely fulfill your desire to sing your song? Unless you trust that you and only you are the one to do this very thing, and you bring it to life, the world will never get to hear your exquisite song.
You canâ€™t have your moment in the sun if you arenâ€™t willing to open the door and step outside. Martha Grahamâ€”dancer, choreographer, and a woman devoted to living life to the absolute fullestâ€”said:
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it."
Your dream is rooted in your heart, and itâ€™s your job to figure out how to express it. Trial and error are fine, exploration is to be expected, evolution is a givenâ€”just get it out there and give it a go!
Itâ€™s a difficult question to answer, but absolutely necessary:
"How to acknowledge that a challenge is scary and dauntingâ€”and then do it anyway?"
Answer: By getting your inner heckler to quit hassling you and get to work supporting you instead.
If you really are ready to flip the script, here are two ways to make the first steps.
The "soft commit"
Give yourself permission to just explore your idea. For Leilaâ€™s workshops, she could hypothetically pick an audience, a subject, and then sketch out the who, what, where, why and how on paper. Since she hasnâ€™t said, "Iâ€™m doing it!" she sneaks past her mindâ€™s iron grip of fear and perfectionism.
After she does this, she can wonder (hypothetically, of course) what the next step would be. Maybe sheâ€™d set a binder to organize the different parts. What would that look like? "Hey, Iâ€™ll set one up, just in case. What would a good timeline look like IF I were to hold workshops in April?"
At some point, a firm commitment is necessary. This is where the fifth â€œWâ€â€”whenâ€”comes into the picture. But by then, you have so much of the planning process done that the mind will be too concerned with the details to give you a hard time about the big picture.
The "H" word. (Help)
Thereâ€™s no need to go it alone â€“ reach out and ask for help! Invite someone who has done it before out for coffee. Ask them about details and their experience. If you want to break the paralysis and liberate your lyrical movement, consider working with a coach. Leila and I spent an hour at a park talking strategy and making lists while her daughter played. Just like that, she was making progress!
With another person to spill your dreams to, you can get the flow going enough to break past the Big Picture Blockade.
Whether you use these tools, or some other way to break free, once you bust the dam, you may end up with more than you think you can handleâ€”but that thought right there is the heckler, donâ€™t let him stop you. There are other tools like timelines and ToDo lists that will help you manage the abundance of ideas flowing. Be grateful that youâ€™ve begun to manifest your dream!
Your brain can be trained to be your best friend, or passively allowed to get in your way. The choice is yours. The funny thing is that once you show it that you are serious about your intention, your clever mind will step up to the plate with all of its problem-solving skills to back you upâ€“as long as you keep the goal, your dream, squarely in front of you.
As the saying goes, â€œA journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.â€ Take your journey one step at a time and the universe will help in mysterious, unexpected ways. Magic can happen when you are committed to your heart.
Shawn Tuttle is founder of Project Simplify.