What to do When You're Feeling Uninspired
#1 Trust Yourself and the Process
“Things will turn around after reaching an extreme” – Zhuan Falun, Li Hong Zhi
Reaching a point of feeling uninspired can be quite discouraging and unnerving because you’re not sure when or how you will be able to get out of this creative funk you’ve found yourself in.
At least that’s how it feels for me.
When those anxious feelings start to come up, the first thing I do is to remember to trust myself and the process. Instead of turning this period of feeling uninspired into and endless wave of anxiety and concern, I ground myself in the knowledge that this is just part of the natural cycle. We cannot always be flooded with ideas and constant moments of inspiration nor can we remain in periods where we seem to lack even an inkling of an idea.
While we may be experiencing a lack of inspiration at the moment, we can have faith that that moment will end, not judge ourselves for being in our current state, and while waiting for the ideas and inspiration to grace us with it’s presence again we can take mindful steps moving forward.
#2 Schedule Play Time
In the beginning when I had these periods where it seemed that I completely lacked inspiration in any form, I got pretty hard on myself for not being able to come up with any ideas. The longer that time went on without any inkling of an idea, the amount of pressure and expectations I put on my creativity increased. By doing so I broke the agreement that I had with my creativity. Because by putting pressure, having expectations, and demanding that my creativity gives me something or owes me something was completely wrong.
Treat creativity like your best friend, not your subordinate. You would never tell your best friend “You’re useless because you can’t come up with any ideas!” Instead you would probably say something along the lines of “I’m sorry you feel uninspired. Let me help you with that.”
How can we help? We can have some fun. Anything that you may have a slight interest in whether it’s taking a class, learning a new skill or hobby, or increasing your knowledge on your own culture—do it. Do everything. By releasing the pressure, expectations, and demands of our actions to produce a certain outcome, we can turn our “slump” into an opportunity to be curious. We can realign our focus to enjoyment and happiness instead of results.
Take all those seeds of interest, give it some water and see where they go without the pressure of turning any of these things into your next big idea.
Be curious. Have some fun. And find things to re-inspire.
#3 Celebrate the Small Wins
All good things start with something small. At least that what I’ve been told when I was younger since I was always below the average height. But these words of comfort also reign true when it comes to feeling a little down and discouraged.
When we have these moments lacking in inspiration, it seems like in order to get back on track we have to do something monumental and blatantly in-your-face significant.
But I found that believing that only pushed me farther away from wanting to do anything at all. How could I do something huge if I can’t even do something small?
So this is where the small wins come in.
And these small wins don’t have to be related to creativity at all. The whole idea behind celebrating the small wins is that each of those wins increases our confidence incrementally (and with less pressure) and before we know it we’re just one big ball of confidence and badassery.
Maybe our small wins include getting dressed in the morning or doing our hair. Maybe it’s making ourselves a nice lunch and eating it outside. Maybe it’s taking a short walk around the neighborhood and driving out to the beach. Whatever your small wins are today, celebrate them like no ones business.
Celebrate all the small wins, because these turn into the big wins.
#4 Practice Gratitude
During this time I can get pretty hard on myself for not only not being able to not produce any quality work but also not being able to produce any work at all. This can get me all frazzled and stressed to the max.
But I’ve learned through constantly practicing gratitude my mood can improve even if my creative slump won’t.
Instead of saying “I can’t come up with anything and it’s stressing me out”, turn that into “I am so grateful to be able to be able to create at all and it is such a gift to be able to do this every day.”
Practicing gratitude was not something I started actively doing until about a year ago. By actively I mean vocalizing, writing, or sharing. We all know the things we’re grateful for but for me the real power of gratuity started to positively change my life after turning the thoughts into actions.
To be honest, it’s still something I struggle with every day. I have to constantly practice and remind myself of but the more I do, the easier it gets.
So “I haven’t been able to create anything in a few days and therefore I suck” turns into “I have faith in myself and the process and I know that I am trying my best” without my inner bully resisting so much.
Be kind to yourself, you’re doing the best you can.
#5 Feed Your Soul
When I’m lacking in inspiration I turn to books. Books are an amazing source of knowledge, inspiration, and comfort. And whenever I read one, even if it’s one that I’ve read before, I always learn something new or have a different take on it then the last time. Because we are never the exact same person at any given moment and I find that whatever I’m looking for—comfort, advice, ideas—a book has a way to give me just what I need.
We consciously look for what our subconscious craves. And my chosen form to seek that out is in books. Maybe yours is in writing or painting or in another form.
Whatever form it takes, feed your soul. It might serve as the match to light your inner fire.
#6 Love Yourself
Because no one can do, what you do, in exactly the way you do it.