Monday, January 9, 2012

When you're stuck (part II).

Welcome to another post at Saturday Sequins!

In the previous post, I discussed being stuck -- the state where you're exhausted, overwhelmed, and you can't bring yourself to tackle any of the items on your to-do list. I also suggested that being stuck isn't just something you can overcome; it's also an opportunity to become a better artist and businessperson.

And finally, I mentioned one step you can take towards getting unstuck: admitting you're stuck in the first place.

Today I'd like to explore some potential solutions to the problem. Since I'm stuck right this very moment, and this isn't a subject I've explored in a lot of depth before, I'll warn you that my advice is experimental -- I'll be trying it out right along with you.

So are you ready to do some work?

1.) Admit you're stuck. Check.

2.) See how you're feeling. Go someplace comfortable where there aren't a lot of distractions. Close your eyes. Breathe. Explore all the layers of your emotional baklava. Explain them to yourself, like you're talking to a friend. Don't focus on your reaction to these emotions -- I know there's a temptation to judge yourself. Just take inventory. Do this as long as you need to. Get through all those layers until you hit the bottom of the pan.

3.) Accept. I'm serious about not judging yourself for your feelings. That never gets us anywhere. What I'd like you to do, if you can, is just accept that this is where you are right now, this is what you're feeling. You might find that accepting, instead of denying or being defensive, is actually kind of freeing.

And if you can't accept it? Accept that you can't accept it right now. That's good, too.

4.) Find the causes. Now I'd like you to do some more exploring. What's going on in your life right now? What's causing those emotions you've just accepted? Maybe it's personal problems intruding into your creative life -- it happens. Maybe you're not taking care of yourself physically or emotionally -- that happens, too. Maybe you're not enthusiastic about a project but continuing because you think you "should," or maybe there's another project you really want to tackle that's been pushed aside -- those things also happen.

5.) Sort. I divide problems into two categories. First, there are things we have control over. Then, there are things we don't. Deciding which is which can be tough, and you may change your mind later on, but what I'd like you to do is make two piles in your head.

The first is the Can't Control pile. The second is the Can Control pile. The Can't pile might be things like a health crisis, family drama, or other people's expectations. The Can pile might be focusing on the wrong projects, or manageable health things like fatigue and poor nutrition.

6.) Rest. When you're stuck, you're vulnerable. Everything takes extra effort, so if you're emotionally and physically drained after doing this work, that's OK! More than OK -- it's reasonable. So take some time, whether it's fifteen minutes or several hours, to recover. Stretch. Get some water. Then close your eyes and focus on breathing again.

7.) Reward. When you're done resting, I want you to reward yourself! Because you're now in a different place than you were when you first admitted to being stuck. Even if you've only moved an inch, a millimeter, away from where you were before, this is progress, and you're awesome for making it!

So read a favorite book. Get together with friends. Cook your favorite meal. Whatever you do, know that you've earned it!

Stay tuned for the next part, where we'll do some brainstorming.

Have a sequintastic day, and thank you so, so much for your comments on the first part of this series! Your input was very helpful and greatly appreciated.


  1. Been there!...I find that distracting myself and taking a break works best. Then I can start again with clear thought and direction....sticking with it until it's done.

  2. Great Advice Sarah! I especially like the rest part. On the days I can't get out of bed, I really beat myself up over not being productive. My husband finally told me "the world can burn, I just want you healthy". That really put things into focus for me. I'm have to re-adjust the view of myself. I use to be able to do it all. Now I have to accept what I can do.

  3. Interestingly enough, I think this weekend was spent finding the cause of my stuck-ness. I never would have thought of it, but some reflection really helped identify stuff. Anyway, nice post! :)

  4. I can really relate to this! I'm going through some soul-searching about my commitments and you've given me lots to think about.

  5. Totally great insight. I am constantly trying to remind myself (and kiddos) about what the cannot control bits. That can be a hard one to swallow.

  6. love the insights my dear;)

    Hope you had a great New Year!

  7. Thanks for the wonderful comments, everyone! I have such amazing blog friends. :)

    Chandra, that's a very good idea. The best way to approach something with fresh enthusiasm is to take a step back!

    Melissa, your husband sounds like such a wonderful person. I've had the same conversation with Mr. Sequin about my shoulder injury. I can't do as much as I used to be able to do, so I'm learning to accept resting and taking care of myself as an actual part of the creative process. Learning -- I don't have it down yet!

    Audrey, I'm so glad you were able to do some reflection this weekend! I hope it got you unstuck! We'll have to talk more at Write Club.

    Janet, I'm glad I gave you something to think about! Your post gave me a lot to think about, too. This is why I love being friends with other creative people -- we've all been there and can help each other out!

    Ajax, can/can't control really is a hard thing to swallow. But it's great that you're working on that with your kids! Getting them to think about it early in their lives will help them so, so much as adults.

    Lori and Tutiny, thanks for your kind words! *Hugs.*

  8. I have also found some of the source of my previous stuckness and funkness!

    You have some great advice here, too! And it's similar to some of the self-talk I've been doing with myself!

    1. Andrea, I'm so glad!

      Also, I love that we were on the same page with the self-talk. :)

  9. Just popped by to say how much I enjoyed seeing your beautiful jewelry over at artists in blogland!

  10. Sooo.... Yes, this is me. I'm stuck. And I think I'm stuck somewhere in between struggling motherhood with small children and a fear that being a mommy has made me back burner my beading for so long that I'm not a beader any more! Panic rises. I squash it down. This is a daily thing, and now that I've read your post, I know its because I'm stuck. I'm still a beader. Phew! So. I'm going to take some time to bead. And I'm going to let my boys bead, too. Why not. Thank you so much. I don't mind being stuck so much now. :-)

    1. Dara,

      I'm so glad I could help you with this post! It feels nice to help myself get through stuckishness, but helping other people feels super awesome. :)

      I'd imagine it would be difficult to find time to bead with small children. I love your solution, though! Lori Anderson lets her son bead, and he has both a love and a talent for it.

      (Also, Mr. Sequin is a boy who beads. I have a soft spot for the beady boys!)

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