Lately I’ve been remembering a 2022 Sedona art retreat as I’ve placed this visual in my daily line of sight.
“The Devil in 2nd Best”
The prompt was simple enough: Find a previously abandoned canvas and intuitively play with adding to/taking away from another artists’ work.
Brilliant. Simple. The unfolding would be a pleasure.
This experiment would turn out to be more than meets the eye. Of course it would be, the title of the retreat was “The Naked Truth.”
Why was I even there? Did I really want to get further into the unfiltered truth? Or did I want to let the lull of ease and comfort keep me in straight lines?
What brought me here was that I was still not all in with my new business.
In 2020 it was crystal clear that I was not going to continue taking new patients for my integrative psychiatry and psychotherapy practice. I had hit burnout. The business would organically move forward, but I did not want to devote more energy to the current iteration.
Creating that initial space for myself was paramount so I could rest and enjoy my work. I was fortunate that I could continue to have a well-paid and secure income while I took this pause. Crucially, I was also willing to lose money as I made a clear choice. And sure enough, as I aligned internally and externally, my financial status did not change in 2020, nor rather significantly in 2021.
By 2021, I had started “experimenting” with coaching while still running my private practice. I was privileged to watch my first coaching clients start and grow their own thriving medical, therapy and dietary practices. Some therapy clients were naturally ending their work while others were moving into even more thriving mentalities and wanted to stay in the depths. I was creating more of my ideal practice & it gave me plenty of space to get clear about my next moves.
But actually transitioning from a guaranteed, “easy-for-me” business to a new model brought up some fear. Some contraction in my body. And I didn’t really want to explore more of that feeling. I wanted to push it away.
The truth was I also had less emotional reserves than the first time I plunged into a new business. I was a bit reticent. In some ways, my burnout had created some distrust in my knowing. I had lost a bit of my natural intuition that I had always relied on. In my opinion, this distrust in yourself is one of the reasons why burnout can be so disorienting to helping professionals. Especially ones who have always been confident in their work, purpose and both the daily intuition & critical thinking necessary to enjoy their field.
I wanted, and actually needed, time. Time for deeper introspection. Even more so, I needed to cultivate my intuition again.
But there is time and then there is delay. Sometimes the experiment will show us where the truth lies. And by 2022, I was realizing my extended time was turning into delay. And unsurprisingly, my finances started to take a hit. Was I really willing to lower my finances now that it wasn’t theoretical?
So I did what most of us can do when we aren’t clear—DELAYED more. 🤣🤦♀️
I was still sitting on the fence about really sharing my new biz and committing 100% to the birth of my natural evolution. And as you know in an actual birth, the mother CANNOT delay the arrival. Opening up to the contractions. Breathing effectively, even when scared of the unknown, moves everything along smoothly. Trusting the process. So though I needed gestation time, I was starting to delay the actual birth.
And that gets messy.
So what does this have to do with the experiential?
I ever-so-subtly delayed picking the canvas, it only felt like a split-second, and yet my first choice was snatched up. I felt a quick narrowing of my eyes.
I recognized that frustration well. By 2022, I was feeling frustrated with myself for not wanting to move as enthusiastically forward in my new business as I did in my first business. I was judging and comparing MYSELF from my previous standards.
I found this one canvas (I had been discriminating between this and the first choice) and immediately saw the beginnings of a “devil” in the center.
In that instant, I had a concrete example of the theme I was going to explore in the art. I hadn’t a single plan for what I was going “to do” when told about the experiential. The next step just naturally appeared.
Right on time.
I’d naturally fallen into exactly what I needed to expand on. It allowed me to notice, in my mind and body, how my extended delays result in my dissatisfaction. How important instinct is to me and how I can over-analyze and then delay to my own detriment.
Sometimes it’s the little things, sometimes the big things. But you can usually find the pattern when you get curious.
The devil IS in the details.
The “devil” is in YOUR particular details. Especially, in your felt sense.
For me when I’m dissatisfied, I can eventually move into the mind and comparison. If it’s “a lot” of dissatisfaction, I can get out of my center.
It’s a “devilish disruptor” that can take me out of my game. But when you play with that “devil,” when you don’t take your mind so seriously, you can notice this sooner, re-center and get back to YOUR actual desires and move on YOUR choices.
Because it is only ourselves that takes us out of the game of life.
So I played with my competitive nature and my comparative function that can go awry, by playing with paint, color, texture and having fun with words. To loosen the hold on society’s illnesses (definitions of success, winner takes all, the dog-eat-dog world, the useless comparison game) that can affect us all. These unhelpful thoughts that are directly involved in reducing joy and YOUR actual POWER.
Because the “devil” can also be the exact disruptor we need to remember where our values actually lie. To always choose OUR human VALUES over what society tells us to value. To find the diamonds.
Take a moment for yourself and explore your relationship with a “devilish disruptor.” Play and make art, collage, dance, take photos, write a poem, a song, or journal deeply into what comes up for you. Feel into your body where this disruptor lodges in your body and play with moving it around.
It may be in your gut, chest, throat. It could be a clenching in your hand. It might be barely perceptible or it might be quite easily felt for you.
If a word comes to you the way “Devil” and “Comparison” came to me, play on the words in the “title” of your art. Then keep that art in your sight and chosen space for as long as you need the reminder to find the diamond.
For me as I play with this online biz arena, a small fish in a BIG pond, it’s front and center in my office. No reason to worry if I’m first or last when it’s MY game. What matters is I’M ALL IN. No more extended delays. And when the desire to overly delay comes, as it will, I move deeper into curiosity and re-center in my truth.
When my clients work playfully with their “worst” traits, they open up to so much more in their life and their business. They get to unmask the deeper and “stuck” limitations and then move to feel empowered in THEIR choices.
Their life and business ultimately grows in the direction they desire as they move further into their unconscious in a much more loose and creative way. It allows them to meet their fears that block growth. This can move them both practically and energetically towards their center.
When we move from OUR center, the game is a thrill Vs a drag. You get to play with YOUR best. And with your worst. Because we can create from both “positive” and “negative” energies when we learn how to flip our frustrations into creation.
Flexibility is mental wellness. Creating (especially without any purpose initially) always moves us into flexible ways of being, thinking and living.
If you need support in exploring how playing with your disruptor can guide you out of your funk Vs staying in delay, reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form here. You can also sign up for the newsletter I’m starting here (scroll down to bottom of page) to learn about more free and lower-priced events that I am in the process of creating. Though I love individual, bespoke work, I also want to help even more clients in a group community.
May you find the majesty,