Stop Holding Back

by Starla J. King on June 6, 2012

I recently realized I often hold back… always wanting the security of knowing I have something left in reserves.

I get fidgety if I only have 5 new books waiting when I’m almost done with the present one(s).

I get nervous a week or two ahead of time about the possible emotional drain of a social engagement (yes, I’m an introvert).

I worry about running out of things to write, so I write less and filter more.

I get *this close* to starting the next new heart-fed project and I balk because what if I run out of energy before it’s done?

After many years as a distance runner, a biker, an overall regular exerciser, I KNOW how to pace myself.  Oh yes.  I am a master at holding back enough in reserves so I can power out the last bit of a run, a race, or a workout and finish strong (except for that one — and only — marathon.  Cripes!).

But here’s the thing:

Finishing strong doesn’t make up for the mediocrity of under-pacing the entire rest of the journey.

In this holding back, we shortchange ourselves, never getting to see what we can REALLY do when we fully commit, fully engage, fully experience the capacity of our talents, skills, gifts, faith, and trust.

But this “running out of energy” thing is very real;  the likelihood that full-being living will wipe out our reserves is strong.

Well…. maybe that’s the point.

Maybe it’s in that place near the bottom of our reserves that our greatest creative potential awaits.  

Unfortunately, many of us (myself included) are often afraid to go there because we don’t have a re-fueling process in place… and we stay at the bottom of our reserves, squeezing potential into depletion which becomes a long, even debilitating road to recuperation and recovery.  Uh oh.

We need to always have a personalized, customized recovery plan in place — and written down and available for reference in an instant.

It doesn’t have to be complex, or brilliant, or expensive, or resource-intensive at all.

I recommend the rhythm method (no, not THAT one. sheesh.):

  • Go strong then rest (and define clearly what constitutes “rest”).
  • Race full steam ahead, then slow to a steady stroll (and define clearly what constitutes “steady stroll”).
  • Commit to giving, and commit to receiving.
  • Work hard, and play hard (you know the drill).
  • Live on both ends of the spectrum and always pause in the middle (and define clearly what constitutes “pause”).

And one last hint:  Do something creative.  Notice the detailed veining of leaves on a weed, the contrast of textures in your environment, the way the light shines differently in the morning and evening.  Write… play music … listen to music … paint… look at paintings … draw… scribble… doodle … color … laugh … take pictures (smart phone, anyone?)… plan a vacation … cook something … bake something … etc. etc. etc.!

Why?   Because creative stuff calls us forth — to whole-being experience, to the mystery of depletion and renewal experienced at the same time, to the intertwined joy and pain of beauty — and in doing so, we forget to hold back… and we learn how to LIVE.

What would it take for you to stop holding back?

If you’d like to explore this with me 1-1, this is a perfect topic for Creativity Coaching.  We can look at what’s holding you back, decide how you can (and want to!) move forward, and create a recovery plan for re-fueling your reserves.  See my Creativity Coaching page for details or contact me for a 20-minute sample session phone call.

Starla j.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire June 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Wow – I love this! I also really needed to hear it right now. I have ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndorme, I pushed myself so hard I ened up being bed bound for six years and the thought of going back there terrifies me, so I keep energy in reserve, I hold back – all the time!

I love the idea of a written plan, of clearly defining what to do, how to recover, not just from the crashes; but every day. Putting it into action in all that you do so that you are building up reserves and using them too. Thank you so much for sharing.


Starla J. King June 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Ah, Claire, what a challenge you’ve had!

yes, the *every day* recovery plans are where we really get to learn what we need, what really works for rebuilding our strength… AND to notice the triggers and signs of being close to the end of our reserves.

I wish you all the best as you rebuild!!

Starla j


Claire June 7, 2012 at 4:58 am

Thank you Starla. 🙂


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