Want to know what’s holding you back? Do something that you’ve been scared to do, and see what comes up. 😱
This morning I decided to do something I’ve never done. I periodically (multiple times per week) receive songs intuitively throughout the day, or in my dreams. A few years ago, I downloaded an app to my phone that allows me to record and compose music. When these songs come to me, I just open the app, press record, and sing the melody or parts with my scratchy morning voice and send the file to my songwriting folder on Google Drive. Today, I decided to do something different.
After I recorded the vocals, and my random instructions to myself, I tapped the share link in the app. And this time, I thought, “I should just share it to SoundCloud.” I sat there for a while with my finger over the SoundCloud icon debating it, then I tapped the logo. 😬
Luckily, it didn’t immediately share the file. I had to complete a short form before submitting. First, I named the file. That wasn’t too hard. (The title of the song is “I Can Be More Than This.”) Then it asked for a description. I was very honest (just in case I had the nerve to actually post it). I shared that it was just rough vocals of a melody, and the parts, and I even noted that there may be some ramblings of random instructions.
Then, my eyes skipped downward and saw the option to share it publicly, and it was set to public by default. 😳
That’s when I started to panic, wondering “What was I thinking? I can’t share this publicly. It’s not even composed. I have my random notes in it. There isn’t any music. No one does this. The end isn’t in rhythm because I was still thinking it through. I CANNOT post this publicly.”
I took a deep breath and calmed myself down. My inner panicking was premature. I wasn’t actually at that option yet. My next step was to choose what genre my song fits in. After scrolling the list twice… well, three times… I couldn’t find one that fit. Immediately that same inner catfish started talking. “See. It doesn’t even fit in a genre. Don’t post it. There isn’t even an inspirational option. No gospel either. Is this even gospel? Do you even know what genre this is? Just wait. You can post it later… privately… after you fix it.”
That’s when I realized, if I didn’t post it publicly right then, I was never gonna post it. The opportunity to do the same thing I always do was right in front of me, and I needed to make a choice. If I chose to share it privately, I was just going to keep it in my account forever and never go back and listen to it. I’ve done that so many times. At this point I likely have at least 100 songs in my Google Drive. But, I want to be a songwriter. I want people to hear my music. I want to make progress. So, you know what? I chose to do something different.
I ignored that voice that was rapid fire spewing excuses. I chose a random genre, quickly scrolled and found that share button. AND I HIT SHARE! 🎉
I didn’t even allow myself to overthink it. I got up to prepare my daughter’s breakfast and made her lunch for school. Luckily #ADHD kicked in, since I was so focused on other things, and I actually forgot I posted the song.😆 I heard an odd notification on my phone, but ignored it and kept working. (I assumed it was just CashApp telling me I needed to add funds to my account…. again. 🙄) I got her food packed, grabbed my phone and saw I had two notifications from SoundCloud! 😳
I glossed over the first one that said someone liked my track. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful. It was that I immediately saw the word “COMMENTED” in the second notification. 😱
Instantly, the flood of insecurities came rushing back in. “Why did they comment? Was it positive? Oh gawd was it a critique?! What if they hurt my feelings? What if they said the exact same things I knew I should’ve fixed? Why did I lose the rhythm on that last bar? I shouldn’t have posted it. What was I thinking? Wait…. What if it was good? What if they liked it? What if more people like it and it goes viral? Oh gawd, if it goes viral everyone will hear my random comments. What if they’re the only one who likes it? Oh gawd. What if I don’t get any more notifications? What if there are more comments? Why isn’t my phone making any noise? How do I turn these notifications off?! This is why I don’t do things like this.”
And that’s when I realized why I’ve been stuck all these years. I’ve been “trying to be a songwriter” for over a decade. I even followed inspiration, and went up to my pastor (Charles Jenkins), after service and told him that I’ve been songwriting and wasn’t sure why God was making me tell him.🙄He was so gracious and kind, and told me to simply put something on CD and let him hear it. 🥰 Being a perfectionist (someone who delays progress to avoid criticism, or at least that’s my definition) I figured all I had to do was learn how to play an instrument, purchase and learn Cubase, go to school for music production, or make a lot of money and pay someone to compose my music so I could get that to him. Simple, right? 😆 Yeah. I still haven’t gotten that CD to him… over 10 years later.
Anywho, as all those thoughts came rushing in, I realized that’s what’s been keeping me stuck. The reason I’m not songwriting is NOT because I don’t understand the software. It’s not because I still haven’t learned to play the piano in rhythm. It is simply that when I go to create I’m bringing all these “not enough” thoughts with me. I don’t believe I can succeed at it if anyone can find fault with it. I think that imperfections mean I’ll be boxed out. My inner voice is constantly criticizing me BEFORE I even get started. It has convinced me that all my efforts won’t be enough. That’s why I’m stuck and that’s probably why you’re stuck, too.
So here’s my recommendation, if you want it. If you want to dramatically move forward on that thing you were created to do—that thing that you know will be awesome and bring love and light to our world (or just yours)—take a step toward it. Then, see what objections come up.
Expose the critical voice in your mind. What is it saying to you? Why does it believe you can’t have it, be it, do it? Once you know the arguments, you can dismantle them and begin to make progress. That’s exactly what I plan to do.
I’m going to explain this further in my upcoming book, You’re Being Catfished: 7 Strategies for Overcoming Your Inner Critic. But for now, start thinking about a reasonable, scary-ish step forward… one that’s uncomfortable, but won’t ruin you. Take a step. See what comes up. Write down the criticism and reasons to retreat. Work through them in your journal, or with a friend, therapist, or mentor who empowers you.
We can do this. We can courageously step into our fears.
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