A few weeks ago, on the recommendation of a close friend and fellow songwriter, I picked up The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Here’s what I love most about Cameron’s book: she doesn’t tell me to sit at my piano for a certain amount of time every day, forcing myself to make music regardless of how uninspired, anxious, or shame-ridden I happen to feel at any given moment. Instead, she invites me to really listen to my resistance. She suggests that if I pay attention to all of the stories and voices and assumptions that are standing in the way of my innate longing and capacity to create – if I begin to listen more attentively to the fear and the wounds that keep me blocked – then maybe, just maybe, I can begin to clear a path for the art in me that’s waiting to be made.
In other words, the most effective way to move past an obstacle on your path is not to pretend it isn’t there, because you’ll just keep bumping into it; the most effective way to move past an obstacle on your path is to actually move the obstacle.
I’m surprised I needed Cameron’s book to remind me of this point. As a therapist, I practice from a deeply rooted conviction that the surest path toward wholeness is not made by adding burdens to our lives but by subtracting them. True, deep, and permanent healing does not come to us by way of a to-do list; it comes as we attend to the burdens and defenses that block our innate capacities and learn to let them go.
At a glance, this truth seems so simple and so compelling, yet it’s so difficult for me to remember. In fact, I wonder if a part of me wants to forget. After all, if I can improve my life by doing the right thing, or following the right steps, or reading the right book, then I maintain my illusion that I am in control: when life hurts, I can fix it. If, on the other hand, I must listen to what pains me—well, that means I must feel my pain, too. It turns out listening is far more vulnerable than doing.
So why listen?
You listen because attending to your fears strips them of their power; in the end, they are so much lighter than they seem.
And you listen because deep within you, beneath the burdens you carry and the defenses blocking your view, there waits a deep well of wisdom and power and creativity that will enable you to become the most alive and inspired You that you can be.
The question is, what stands in Your way?
If you’re interested in receiving future Artisan blog posts by email, CLICK HERE to subscribe to the list. We publish new, free, and (hopefully) helpful content every other Friday, and we’ll never try to sell something to you. Therapy is the one space in the world you get to receive without feeling compelled to give in return. We want the Artisan blog to feel the same way.
Disclaimer: Posts on the Artisan Clinical blog represent a combination of our therapists’ personal opinions and professional experiences, but they do not reflect professional advice. Interaction with a therapist via the blog post or the comments section does not constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor who can dedicate the hours necessary to become more familiar with your specific situation. While all blog comments are read and appreciated by our therapists, the blog cannot be monitored continuously, so if you have a need that requires immediate attention, you should go to your nearest emergency room for assistance. We do not assume liability for any portion or content of material on the blog and accept no liability for damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with the website.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists, you can do so on our "make an appointment" page. We respect the privacy and confidentiality of our clientele, so we write about ourselves, not our clients.