If all else fails, distract thyself!
Some of my worst times of crisis resulted in my most prolifically creative seasons. That’s right. When I couldn’t find any more therapy appointments that worked or Twelve-step principles to apply, I simply dove into what I loved and transformed my worry, grief, and angst into art.
I know God’s perfect, but sometimes I still wonder whether He made a mistake when he gifted us women with words. We talk incessantly. If you don’t believe me, just linger on the periphery of some women chatting and you will soon agree. We need to process everything from annoyances with husbands to hair coloring. Talk, talk, talk, talk…we seem most happy when gabbing.
Then the crisis hits! Kabaam…our fixation with words turns on our minds with unrelenting torment. In Twelve-step recovery, they call this obsessing, circular thinking that never goes anywhere productive but just keeps rehearsing the hurt. Round and round we go making ourselves crazy without solving one blasted thing.
During these times of obsessing, my Twelve-step sponsor used to ask me targeted questions to help me identify the source of my mental madness. Her questions always perplexed me because they seemed so far from the thoughts playing tug-o-war in my mind. I wanted to obsess the current person I was so sure was the source of my misery and she kept directing me back to the only person I could change, me. Here’s 3 questions she would ask:
Are you taking care of yourself? The right answer to this question encompassed eating well, exercising, and using the tools of recovery: journaling my feelings, calling people on the telephone list to get the crazies out of my mind, and attending meetings.
The later was so that I could hear my obsessing coming out of others’ mouths and realize I wasn’t alone. Meetings helped me to acquire tips for handling my qualifier (the person who gets you into a 12-Step group), other difficult people in my life, or any situation I was obsessing. The last answer to the “taking care of yourself” question referred to what I was doing that I enjoyed. Giving myself permission to enjoy anything was difficult for me because I misinterpreted what it meant to a devoted Christian.
What are you afraid of?
This was always a biggie for me. She explained how codependents use obsessing as a smokescreen to keep their focus off the only person they can change, themselves.
Mary believed that God had a unique identity and plan just for me, and if I thought through what I wanted to do, I could transfer all my negative mental energy into activities that would develop me as a person.
In time, I discovered that she was right. I tended to obsess others when I felt afraid of the next-best-step that could help me to improve myself. Together we talked through what she called “my worst-case scenarios.” She used to ask, “So what is your worst fear?
Then she would lead me down a mental path that always ended up with a comforting conclusion.
“You don’t have to be afraid anymore, JoDee, God will be with you even if the worst circumstances you contrive come true.” She helped me to tackle the practical things I needed to do to care for my children and myself. These included developing a career that would pay the bills and taking my children to therapy so they could develop healthy self-care tools.
What do you want to do?
Wow, this was always a zinger that initially spun me out. I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do. I had always lived my life as a good little codependent Christian ministry wife. Following my leaders and serving my husband and children defined my existence. It felt so terribly selfish to even think of what I wanted to do just for me. Little did I know that following the desires of my heart would lead me to pursue my God-given destiny: to inspire others to create, to hope, and to believe.
Exercise: You’ve read this post because of a desire to become a more creative you, so why not start with a bit of journaling focused around these three questions?
- Are you taking care of yourself?
- What are you afraid of?
- What do you want to do?
Then select one item from each to post someplace you pass by daily. Choose one way to take care of yourself, one fear you will conquer, and one creative project you’d like to pursue.
I guarantee you’ll move from crisis to creativity!
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We are, after all, chosen to create!
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