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“Before inspiration, comes the slaughter.”
I recently came across an image of a goldfish with that sentiment written on it.
I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to be amused or cut to the quick. (Maybe a little of both.)
As a writer and a fellow fallible mortal, I’m aware of the power of creativity—how it lifts, transforms, and disturbs us individuals to become better versions of ourselves.
Ugh, it’s a tall order. I need to take a few naps just thinking about it.
Personal transformation, at first glance, is exciting, brimming with hope. For me, the closest thing I can compare it to is the early stages of the writing process, the brainstorming phase.
It is here where lightning bolts of possibility and ideas come rushing in, possibly giving me a false hope that, yes, yes, yes, I am truly onto something magical.
And, yes, yes, yes, it will be accomplished in 7 to 10 business days, at most!
You can snicker all you want at that perceived naïve and clueless notion. But don’t we all do that to a certain degree with the issues of our lives?
“Before inspiration, comes the slaughter.”
As with most things in life, it usually helps if we examine and target the root of an issue or problem before we set about to solve it, right?
Perhaps, when it comes to our inspiration, our creativity, and our achievement of our higher selves, we do need to look at slaughtering some things first. Cut away those things that do not serve us. Remove the dross. Purify.
So, ready to go on a little personal murdering spree?
Let’s see what we find:
Kill the Lie.
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
What is truth? What is our truth?
Are we running roughshod over it?
Here we are confronted with the mistaken thoughts and beliefs many of us have accepted, possibly going as far back as childhood.
Any of these little ditties sound familiar?:
>> “I can’t.”
Really? Are you sure?
Where did you hear that information? Who told you that?
What is preventing you from attempting it?
Why do you have to achieve it perfectly the first time out?
>> “I’m worthless.”
Again, where did you hear that information? Who told you that?
Why is it difficult for you to believe your mere existence on the planet is bankable evidence of your undeniable worth?
Name one thing you are proud of (right now).
Name one thing you have contributed to life (right now).
>> “I have to earn my love, approval, and value.”
This is a timeless classic. Being “earners” trumps the unconditional love phantom we so desperately chase throughout our lives.
A lot of us, quite frankly, didn’t get the unconditional love we richly deserved. Therefore, we looked for that love in all the wrong places.
And we often first started within ourselves, convincing ourselves that if we just try hard enough, if we are just “good enough,” then we will be rewarded with it.
>> “It’s never going to change.”
Talk about a predator to inspiration! Here is where the unchallenged thought we heard from somewhere, from someone, morphs into full-on despair. It can drive some of us to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The translation is that it is hopeless. Concerning us, anyway, there is no hope. There is no point.
Yes, we can go for years, for decades, for our entire lives even, believing these statements to be absolute truth for us.
All because we fail to challenge those thoughts.
We chose not to kill the lie. We protect, nurture, and feed it instead.
Kill the Complacency.
“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” ~ George Washington
There is something comforting and appealing about passivity. We’re all guilty of indulging in it. Excuses allow us the illusion of never needing to change.
We can get accustomed to believing lies such as:
>> “It’s not that bad.”
Nope, it’s not bad at all. We’re unhealthy, stressed out, in debt, and are involved in relationship and career dynamics that equate themselves with a harsh prison sentence. But, “It’s not that bad.”
Supposedly, when an eagle family is raising their offspring, everything within the nest for the young eaglets is comfortable, soft, and cushy. After all, those little snookies need to be nurtured and get their rest, right?
But as these little eagle snookies mature, slowly but surely, the adult parents make the nest less comfy and cushy. Gradually, thorns, sharp sticks, even jagged pieces of human garbage become the staples within the nest. These nesting materials jut out and poke at each little snookie, so much, the little ones eventually conclude: “This is painful. I’m out of here!”
We could learn from the eaglets.
>> “I have time.”
Procrastination. Tomorrow. Later. Never?
“Someday,” we’ll get around to that personal transformation. We’ll get in shape, start reading more, get out and meet new, healthy people, start the business plan, etcetera.
But not now. Now is not the right time, after all. We don’t have time. We’re not ready. We don’t have enough money, on and on.
I wish I knew who said this, but a sentiment I love and try to remember, even as I’m busy procrastinating, is the following nugget:
“If you wait for everything to be perfect, you’ll never get anything done.”
Yeah. Back to perfectionism again. It is not so much that it’s redundant but persistent and insidious. Perfection can permeate everything, fueling any excuse, any distraction, any attitude. And it does.
Do we really have time? Or are we wasting it, spiting the opportunity to do things that can make our lives better, right now, without waiting any longer?
>> “I don’t need to change.”
Oh, that’s right. I almost forgot. You and I are perfectly set.
Life is thrilling, fulfilling, nurturing, and empowering. You know, perfect (again).
Nothing to see here. Nothing to change here.
Yes, indeedy, we are all set. Just keep doing the same insanity some more, expecting that different result. I’m sure that it will go great!
Sounding ridiculous? How many of us are in this spot right now? No hands need to be raised. I know you’re out there. I am right next to you.
Kill the Unwillingness To Change.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou
Piggybacking the “I don’t need to change” lie is often further exacerbated by its twin musing, “I don’t want to change!”
You can almost visualize the adult-toddler temper tantrum, known as us, writhing around on some proverbial grocery store aisle floor, crying, screaming, and tuckering ourselves out because beating our tiny fists in the air in defiance takes a lot out of us.
Nope, many of us are not interested in slaughtering our unwillingness to change. We will do everything within our power to keep that sucker on life support. We resist change. We fight it. We deny that its reality exists.
But life is change. Either we willingly accept and adjust our behavior to that, or change will force its way, inevitably, into our lives.
Things will be different a year from now—in some way. Just wait and watch.
How do you and I feel about that?
Kill the Unrealistic Expectation of Wish Fulfillment.
“Just take any step, whether small or large. And then another and repeat day after day. It may take months, maybe years, but the path to success will become clear.” ~ Aaron Ross
Just take the first step, the tiniest course of action. Just do something.
“Good is the enemy of great.” ~ Unknown
Ever hear that?
Yes, once again, we are back to perfectionism. It is the maniacal serial killer to getting anything significant accomplished.
And it’s all because our magical thinking selves believe more strongly in the absolute perfection making everything right, over our imperfect, messy, but plugged-in selves taking action, complete with its flaws and mistakes. We become paralyzed while waiting to be good (translation,: perfect enough).
And it never happens.
We wait in vain, hoping it will.
But perfectionism doesn’t just stop there with its inspiration-killing spree. It is also the fiend that kills meaningful relationships, life events, and personal self-worth.
(Deep, deep sigh coming now.)
For perfectionism doesn’t just pertain to achievements and efforts; it also attaches itself to our hearts’ desires. Fabulous.
Why? Because we have unrealistic expectations that we insist must live and thrive, spiting all reason, logic, and human, imperfect nature.
Clinging tightly to that, then, inevitably, will get us hurt (once again).
We want what we want, and we want it to be perfect—a happily-ever-after fairytale.
Do the Work (And Be Inspired).
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
So, what are we left with? Only despair? It doesn’t look too promising, does it?
But, again, there is power in movement, in action, in being decisive, even if that is only one decision. You and I can do that. It doesn’t need to be earth-shattering, dramatic, or even that good, performance-wise. It can even be a perceived “feeble” attempt on our part.
It just needs to keep moving forward, as Dr. King stated.
None of us are static; we are moving; we are growing and changing. And we undercut our progress, minimize how far we have come, whenever we discount the stumbling strides we are making.
Maybe we are not running right now. Maybe we are walking. Maybe we can’t do that right now. Crawling might be our pace. But there is movement.
Movement is in a choice, in an effort.
And movement begets inspiration. It kills stagnation.
Slaughter and Inspiration: What Lives and What Dies?
Each of us is in a position to ask ourselves that question. Because something is flourishing, and something is succumbing.
What are those things in our lives?
We can choose to make a different choice. We can choose to be inspired.