There’s a myth that art requires passion.
It often crops up as a cringy movie scene. The artist “expresses themselves,” dancing naked across a canvas or hurling themselves at their art, releasing the muse by flailing their arms and waggling their toes and hollering to the heavens.
And behold: Art is made.
Maybe that works for painting.
It doesn’t work for writing.
This is what happens when a writer flails:
Writing with passion is like pulling fingernails out of your eyelids: painful and confusing.
But writing with misery wrapped around your throat?
Well, that’s how all the great books were made.
I’ve lost many loves to this moment.
People and things and even bits of myself that I’ve cherished have fallen victim to that moment of frustration, more times than I’d like to admit.
There are lots of reasons that fiery flood of hormones gets unleashed.
We might have been beaten at something. Or maybe it isn’t working how it’s supposed to. Or we have made a mistake and realized it too late. Sometimes, we’re just hungry.
But every time, we feel threatened in some way.
Not understanding the situation, our bodies do the only thing they know to do: fight or flight.
When that blood with all its raging hormones rushes to our head, all it takes is that one sullen word or a flick of the wrist, and we can break something we really love.
Learning how to control that moment, or at least not let it control us, is one of the greatest skills we can learn.
And I’ve still got a long way to go.
Not many people want to hear this:
If you’re insulted by something, it’s your fault.
This is my favourite of
Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements because it’s so hard to agree with, and to put into practice fully.
How can it be our fault if we get insulted by someone who is screaming at us or calling us names?
The idea is that we always have a choice; we are the ones who allow words to carry weight, whether we’re conscious of it or not. And of course, often what people are angry about has very little to do with us or what just happened.
It’s one thing to know that it’s not our fault when someone is angry at us. But it’s far harder to remember that when we’re mad at someone else, that’s on us.
Much easier said than done!
My mum has a trick for instant calm, passed down from her mother and her mother before that.
It works better outside or in a barn, but there’s plenty of ways to replicate it in modern life:
When you’re angry, dunk your head in a bucket of ice-cold water.
If no buckets are available, a tap or hose to the back of the neck works just fine. It’s possible to be disgruntled after a cold shower, but almost impossible to be angry.
For added effect, dip your toes in too. They can be hot, angry little fellas, but they do love a cold swim.
It’s easy to forget that nothing is real until we attach words to it, even feelings.
A coffee table is a coffee table. And a stubbed toe is just something that happens when you have toes. This much is obvious to anyone with a coffee table or a toe.
However, in the heat of the moment, that stubbed toe becomes domestic terrorism and that coffee table a vicious assailant in your home.
And we curse that ungrateful, dumb hunk of wood most righteously.
But it would be weird if, after stubbing our toe, we took an axe to that loathsome lumber, ground it to sawdust, and then went to the neighbour’s house to continue the table-cide.
Emotions are there to guide us, to warn us, and to heal us, but if we took them at face value, we’d live in a pretty barren and boring world.
We can stub a toe on pretty much anything, but only you get to decide how long it hurts.
Some mornings are terrible.
This morning I woke up angry that I’d slept in and was behind, disappointed that I wasn’t full of energy like I had been recently, and sad because it felt like I was
losing control again.
I was mad because I felt like I was letting myself down. My
inner Eeyore was freaking out.
But instead of wrestling with my angst or hiding behind work or drugs, I decided to talk to him. And it turned out he just needed a hug.
When you’re having a bad day, give someone a
cuddle and then settle for the smallest step forward towards your goals. Even if that just means getting out of bed.
It won’t fix things, but it might put you in the
right frame of mind. And if you don’t have anyone to hug right now, send out a message instead.
That’s the next
impossible to be angry and dance.
That’s a fact.
You just can’t be angry when you’re dancing.
And it’s very hard to be sad too.
There are lots of biochemical reasons for this, mainly those lovely juicy endorphins and hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin.
And researching this, I just learnt that dancing can even
MAKE YOU SMARTER! Whaaaaaat?
So, if you’re feeling a bit shitty today, or tired, or angry, or stressed — or just ‘meh’ — turn up the volume till the bass makes you tingle, and wiggle those hips.
This will even work if you’re in the middle of an argument with someone!
I dare you to try and be angry and dance.
It will probably explode your head.
Whatever today throws at you today; if you’ve got the Monday blues or you get blindsided by something nasty later or you’re just feeling a bit meh…
Shake and jiggle it out!