I sat down and read The War of Art by Pressfield, just finished it. Great book, I'd recommend it, even as an inner game pep talk.
There's some really good insights in it which line up with a lot of 'inner game' stuff. Like, for example, he talks about the Hierarchical vs Territorial way of living/working, which is exactly the same as Getting vs Doing.
Most of the book is about what he calls Resistance, which are all the doubts, fears, insecurities, laziness, excuses etc that stop us from following our purpose, whatever it may be. His solution for that is just to 'turn up' every day like you would turn up at a normal job and just do the work- feel the fear & do it anyway.
I guess in order to turn up and do your work everyday you need to make space for it. For me, that has meant cutting out a lot of distractions like most of my social life.
The biggest fear, he says, is Fear of Success, which I definitely relate to. For a long time I have been afraid of actually succeeding- getting to a place where my work is out in the public eye- the real world. The fear is that you will be more successful than you expect, and success will carry you out beyond your edge, where all the stakes are much higher and you will be exposed and vulnerable. The higher you fly, the further you have to fall.
For me, I feel like once I get 'out there' I will surpass my influences. I will go beyond the mould that others have defined and I will be forced either to define myself as a distinct entity, an Individual, or crumble and shrink back to the safety of the herd. I imagine a kind of sonic boom moment where I break through the sound barrier of other people's opinions and I'm now dictating what my art is, rather than conforming to the set ideas.
But what if I break through the sound barrier and I find out I've got nothing to say?
The solution to that is to work from a Doing mentality rather than a Getting mentality. Do it because you love doing it, not because you want approval.
Let success come and go as it will, but don't make it the focus. People will start paying attention when what you are saying catches their attention.
He also talks about something else that I realised a month or two ago- how the over identification with your work stops you from working. When your sense of self is completely bound up with your purpose, you're less inclined to take risks. If you pursue your purpose and you fail, that means You, your Self is a failure- you are identified with that failure.
Failure becomes something you Are.
Although you have to pursue your purpose as the main focus of your life, there actually has to be a distinct separation between your personal value, your sense of Self and the success you have at expressing your purpose.
Who you Are vs what you Do.
If you pursue your purpose as something that you do, something process based rather than goal based, then the value is centred on the actual Doing of it. It is a process which never ends. A finished work of art does not stand alone, it is part of a dialogue that is going on over the course of your life.
A shitty painting can be seen as a horrible failure, something that proves you're really a no talent hack. OR it can be seen as a great step forward in learning what not to do, and therefore strengthening your overall progress.
In order to create, you need to be able to be 'wrong' sometimes. If you fear being wrong, you won't have the guts to try in the first place. So you need to approach your purpose as something that you Do, it is an expression of your Self, something that you are Doing, not something that you Are.
Anyway, good book, thanks for recommending it!
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”- Rumi