This weekend I did something embarrassing. By myself in my kitchen, while the boys were playing video games and my husband was jogging, I confessed to an empty kitchen chair, “I’m not working on my memoir.”
As a first exercise in Coaching the Artist Within, Eric Maisel suggests sitting in a chair facing another chair and having a conversation with yourself.
After admitting that I wasn’t writing, I switched places and pretended I was the coach. “Why do you think this is happening?” I asked myself.
Back in the first chair, words tumbled out like an undammed stream. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never written anything this big. I’m overwhelmed by trying to figure out what to do next.”
Venting these feelings out loud — even if only to myself — brought instant relief. But then something else came out. “I don’t know if I can do this alone,” I revealed to my imaginary coach self. “I don’t want to sit in a room by myself for months. I need to be with other people who are in the same boat, writing, commiserating, working together.”
The judge in my head would have responded, “You’ve got to figure this out on your own. You can’t always ask for help. What’s wrong with you?”
But this time, expressing my needs to “another person” — even though there was no body sitting there! — made me feel more normal and willing to help myself. It was the inner coach I needed all along, not the inner critic.
After having this little talk with myself, I knew instantly what I needed to do. Look for a course or support group for people who are in the same beautiful mess. I got up from my little kitchen session with a bounce in my step and went looking around for a memoir-writing group.
I found several options, but then then something even more magical happened. Before I could even sign up for any of these groups, I opened my computer and started working on my book! I suddenly knew what to do and I got busy. It felt so good, I kept sneaking back to my writing room whenever I could find an extra 10 minutes. The transformation was astounding.
Just knowing that help was on the way energized me. Which made me wonder: was I confused about what to do, or was I simply paralyzed by the feeling of being alone?
All humans need closeness, nurturing, and community. Receiving support grounds us, giving us a sense of belonging and stability. Listening and responding to our needs keeps us alive and thriving.
I am going to keep having these little chats with myself when I feel lost. Listening to myself like a coach breaks me out of the fantasy/doom cycle in my head and places me into the light of day. Here in the real world, humans are not achieving robots, but beautiful beings who survive on connection and empathy.
Trying something new can be hard. Where do you need support in your life?