Creativity Coaching

Stuck in a Creative Rut? You May Be Following Fools Rules

By Valery Satterwhite | Posted 8/10/09 | Updated 4/7/24

"Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it." — Henry David Thoreau

Life is a game. Whether you enjoy life or not depends upon the rules — your own personal rules of life.

Whether you realize it or not you guide your life, make your choices, based upon a set of rules you selected for yourself in early childhood. These rules were based on misinterpretation or complete unchallenged acceptance of whatever was seen or heard:

  • A well-meaning relative who tells a child "Don't be stupid" as she is about to put mustard on the cookie dough becomes Rule #1: I AM STUPID.
  • A teacher's remark that a child is not performing to her potential becomes Rule #2: I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
  • A well-meaning parent's warning "Don't talk to strangers" becomes Rule #3: STRANGERS WILL HURT ME.

The rules you have taken on for yourself that do not support you hold you back. If you believe you are stupid you will not attempt creative challenges that require intelligence. If you think you are not good enough you won't allow yourself to reach for what you desire to achieve in your craft. If you think strangers can inflict harm you may resist public speaking.

Your Inner Critic, often the fool, is the manager of these rules. Since you adopted these rules, you can change them. You can take away the power your Inner Critic has to shape your choices and possibilities around these rules. You have the power to create NEW RULES!

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go." — Dr. Seuss

Be mindful of the thought patterns and internal belief systems (your rules) that form the decisions you make, the direction you take in life. If you discover that they are negative and unsupportive take note. If, for example, you recognize the "I am stupid" rule being served up by that Inner Critic of yours, look for evidence of a new rule — "I AM SMART." Examine your life and look for experiences where you made a choice that benefited you and others. Look for examples of the opposite. Create a newer, better, rule to believe in.

"The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put." — Winston Churchill

Project this exercise out into other areas in your life. For example, if you believe that women over 40 years of age cannot get a good role in a movie look to the many women over 40 who are, indeed, getting great juicy parts in major motion pictures. Meryl Streep, Heather Locklear, Diane Lane, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cindy Crawford, Glenn Close, Ellen Barkin, Marcia Cross, Helen Mirren, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Lauren Graham, Mary-Louise Parker, Frances McDormand, Laura Linney, Dame Judi Dench, Sally Field, and Emma Thompson are just a few of the many women over 40 who are actively working and enjoying successful acting careers.

"Life is like music, it must be composed by ear, feeling and instinct, not by rule. Nevertheless one had better know the rules, for they sometimes guide in doubtful cases, though not often." — Samuel Butler

Your Inner Critic whispers your old misguided set of rules to you when you are about to stretch beyond your current comfort zone. This frightened little child within works hard to keep you safe although it is very misguided on what will keep you safe. It fears change of any kind. Change is unknown and therefore frightful. Rely on the power that you have within you that is your birthright. I playfully call this internal resource of self-esteem and wisdom the Wizard Within. When in doubt, ask what your Wizard Within would choose to believe and do. Change your rules to change your life!

"We all know, from what we experience with and within ourselves, that our conscious acts spring from our desires and our fears. — Albert Einstein

Next: How to Drop Your Creative Resistance

Copyright ©2009 Valery Satterwhite. All rights reserved.