How Bigfoot Helped Me Overcome Procrastination, Perfectionism & Resistance

Steven Pressfield’s book “The War of Art” is a psychological Rosetta Stone for the unmotivated artist. It reveals to you why, how — and most importantly — that you are not alone in the struggle. Far from it. In fact, “your” struggle is so common, the first insight you get from the book is that you can stop identifying with that struggle immediately because it isn’t unique to you in the slightest.

Pressfield personifies this struggle with the monolithic, capitalized name: Resistance. “The War of Art” offers deeply useful tools for battling Resistance (your key insight is that the battle will never go away, so better to be good at stepping up to the challenge each day than to expect an eventual truce or victory over Resistance). But I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to follow Resistance back to it’s lair. And I ended up encountering Bigfoot on this quest.

Bigfoot Patrol merchandise

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How Much “Me” Is Actually There?

Here’s the mistake we make when we listen to the voice of self-loathing: We misperceive a force that is universal and impersonal and instead see it as individual and personal. That voice in our heads is not us. It is Resistance. Those thoughts are not our thoughts. They are Resistance.

via Steven Pressfield, “Resistance and Self-Loathing

As usual, Pressfield’s insight strikes me. He may be talking about the artist’s struggle, but it resonates further out than that. One of the most powerful mind weapons again depression is the knowledge I gained from “The Mindful Way Through Depression”  that every depressed person has the exact same self-deprecating thoughts. This tells us that they are not true. They have nothing to do with you as an individual. It seems like a simple concept, but the more you start to understand it, it becomes profoundly powerful: these thoughts have nothing to do with me at all.

Recently, I read Susan Cain’s “Quiet” — an superbly great book on what it means to be an introvert. Having devoured articles and blog posts for a few years now since learning of this incredibly useful information that I am an introvert, I was surprised to be blown away by most of the stories and science Cain revealed in “Quiet”. Not only was I silently agreeing at just about everything as the book progressed, I often found myself having mini-eureka moments (“…so that’s why I’ve always done that!”). Honestly, it got me choked up at certain points, recalling things back to my childhood which left me bewildered. The puzzle pieces finally had the box lid to reference! Again I found powerful information: these behaviors, thoughts, and preferences have nothing to do with you at all.

So this was great: some troubling aspects of my inner world were finally finding some solace. But that opened a new can of worms, one I wasn’t really expecting: if none of these things are “me”, then where exactly is “me”?

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The War of Art: An Artist’s User Manual

The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield has popped up on my radar for a while now, and I finally got around to picking up a copy. I liked it so much, I got the audiobook version as well.

I’m going to start off by quoting my own review over on GoodReads:

Pressfield seems to have distilled the essence of the creative blocks we face, and provides some valid advice for moving past them. This book is succinct, not short. At first the small chapters we off-putting, but after completing the book I realized that this could be read in one sitting, and I think it was designed that way.

Less of a how-to book and more of a lens to help focus. I found myself nodding in agreement as well as reframing and understanding events, thoughts and choices I’ve made in the past (and those I’m resisting in the present) in a new light.

Pressfield has written a book that feels like someone took all the vague thoughts you’ve had as an artist about being an artist, and put them together in a way that’s both universal and personal. Less inspirational and more of a user manual.

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