3 Paralyzing Statements That Keep You from Your Best Work

Editor's note: This is a guest post by Emily P. Freeman, a writer who creates space for souls to breathe. Her newest book, A Million Little Ways, is an invitation to uncover the art you were made to live. Connect with her at her blog or on Twitter @EmilyPFreeman.

Seth Godin hosted a day-long gathering in Tribeca last summer, one I didn't attend but heard a lot about. My husband went with my dad and brother-in-law, and they came back to report on a simple, two-word theme for attendees:

Pick Yourself.

pick yourself
Photo credit: Emily P. Freeman

You already have what you need to move into your world — so move. Contribute. Make art. Stop waiting to be picked.

It sounds right and maybe even easy. But why, then, are so many of us still waiting to be picked?

There are as many obstacles to showing up in the world as there are people. Here are three paralyzing statements that keep me from my best work — and maybe they do the same to you.

“Someone else can do this better.”

Someone else can write better, love better, lead better, speak better, teach better, design better, parent better, or pray better. It doesn't matter what your art is.

The reality that someone else can do it better often keeps me from wanting to do it at all. It's a courage stealer. But there is a way to combat it:


It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but consider the freedom — Yes, someone else can do it better and they probably already have.

There is nothing to win, so you are free to stop competing with the world.

You don't have to be the best one saying or living something true. You just have to be yourself.

Consider the impact this constant measuring and weighing is having on your soul. Agree that someone else can do it better. But also agree that doesn't mean you can't do it, too.

You may not be the first or the best to say it or live it, but your saying or living it may be the first time someone finally hears.

Make art, anyway.

“I'm not ready.”

Maybe you think it isn't the right time to show up. Maybe you don't feel ready to write that book, try for a baby, take that job, quit the one you've got.

But showing up where you are with what you have is all you can do. You have your two hands, your sick parents, the items on your to-do list.

You have your extra deadlines, your diagnosis, the children at your table. You have been given your life, what you hold in your hands, the ground beneath your feet. You have been asked to show up.

How do I know?

Because you were born.

It's true, it might not be the right time to do a certain thing, pursue a particular endeavor, or make a final decision. But a lot of times we confuse readiness with courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear. If you wait to feel courageous before you release your art, you might be waiting forever. The more we live from who we most deeply are, the more courage will grow. (Feel free to tweet that.)

“I’m wasting my time.”

It's hard to pick yourself when you don't think it's going to make any difference.

The only reason we would ever call something a waste of time is because we have a certain idea of success and anything short of that idea we label “waste.” Or maybe we are adhering to someone else's idea of success and we adopt it as our own.

For writers, this might be something like this: My writing is only worth it if I get a book published.

If you are worried that your art is a waste of time, perhaps you need to redefine success in art. [Tweet that]

Does someone else believe in you? Has someone been inspired by your art in some way? Perhaps the most important question:

Are you becoming more fully yourself?

There is courage in connection — with your truest self, with the truest self of others, and with God.

If practicing your art brings you closer to this kind of connection, if it allows you to be vulnerable in ways you weren't able to be before, then your art has not been wasted.

Did this post resonate with you? Check out Emily's new book, A Million Little Ways on Amazon.

What are the statements keeping you from your best work? What obstacles hold you back from picking yourself? Share in the comments.

Emily P. Freeman is a writer who creates space for souls to breathe. Her newest book, A Million Little Ways, is an invitation to uncover the art you were made to live. Connect with her at her blog or on Twitter @EmilyPFreeman.

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