Do you ever feel completely uninspired to act, even when you have good ideas, projects in progress, or activities you know you would benefit from?
“I have all of these things I want or need to do, but the inspiration… the energy to act… it just isn’t there.”
We are going to explore a few aspects, even a radical idea or two, that may help you out of this frustrating experience.
Inspiration vs. Energy
As a professional musician, I live in a highly misunderstood world where people assume we are always inspired by the beauty of our art.
Sometimes we will hear an amazing piece, see a performance or movie and feel a deep desire to create something. An almost visceral need to touch our instruments. That inspiration is deep and thrilling when it happens.
I can’t wait for that, or hope it happens daily.
The truth is, I practice my instrument whether or not I feel “inspired” to do it. It’s my job, and my livelihood depends on me being able to execute the music I am paid to perform.
However, the ENERGY to practice almost always appears when I see or touch my instrument. It may be brief, but even if I’m tired, my body will connect to some energy that makes it possible to do what it loves.
If that energy were not there, that connection that seems to literally generate some kind of life-force into my cells, it’s unlikely I would be able to do what I do.
No matter how much I tell myself I “need to” practice – if there’s no energy behind it, it’s not going to happen consistently!
You Don’t “Do” Inspiration
One of the biggest challenges with inspiration that I see over and over again, is the belief that inspiration is something we should be able to wield like a tool.
I learn or discover what needs to be done, and then try to find the inspiration to do it.
It just doesn’t seem to work this way.
We all have our own collections of to-do lists, priorities, and perspective on what absolutely needs to happen.
This creates both a challenge and an opportunity. It allows us to practice a radically different approach to our lives, based on the following premise:
Inspiration, or the source of energy to act, is completely unconcerned with your ideas about what is supposed to happen.
You can either try to ‘get inspired’ to do those things you need to do,
OR you can open to the idea of listening to the energy, following wherever it takes you, even if it makes no logical sense.
Maybe the energy knows more than us
You don’t have the energy or inspiration to work on that project?
Maybe it’s not time for it.
Maybe, even if you were able, forcing yourself into action would be the worst thing you could do.
I submit at least being open to this premise.
We THINK we need to do a certain thing at a certain time.
We don’t see the entire picture.
I believe we have access to something that does.
I believe that following where the energy takes us, what feels right, is a key way to access this.
But I have a deadline!
Our minds tend to be very black and white, and present the most extreme examples to argue a position.
I’m not suggesting you experiment with this practice for your taxes on April 14th.
Many, many of our deadlines are self-created, or from a sense of being far behind.
There are many opportunities to experiment with this more gently.
Many of the things we say “need” to be done do not any objective, absolute consequence if it does not get finished today. You can identify and experiment with those.
I also submit that if you have a legitimate, actual urgent deadline, we tend to find a way. If it really is life and death, the energy will present itself in one form or another!
1) You are self employed and absolutely convinced you need to do something such as:
Set up a website, email marketing, or start your YouTube channel.
You NEVER feel the energy to actually do it, except occasionally by force.
That’s a time to experiment. To let go, and open to exploring:
“What’s something that is at least related to my business or work, that I feel some energy behind doing? Even if I don’t see how that will benefit directly, but there’s energy there.”
2) You are convinced that you need to meditate or do a certain practice daily, or more often, but almost never do it.
There’s another time to experiment.
You have no energy to do it, but you want to take a walk?
The energy could be telling you that’s what your body needs, that it is ultimately more of a step in the direction you need, whether you see it or not.
Again, there are subtleties between discipline, resistance, avoiding responsibilities and such, but learning to FEEL and trust energy is extremely valuable.
So I just do whatever I want?
In general, I find that us human beings have a strong desire to oversimplify teachings or best-practices to the point of being non-useful.
- “Just follow your bliss”
- “Just be present and that will take care of everything”
- “Just allow what you are feeling and that will take care of everything”
- “Just don’t identify with the body-mind and you’ll never suffer again.”
All of these may point to something that is true, but even if they do, there is a LOT of nuance involved.
Any more than basketball is “just put the ball into the basket.”
You can’t just tell yourself any of these things and expect that to cover the experience of it.
It is an art and a skill to learn to FEEL where you are being moved and what is needed in a moment.
Energy will bump against your programming and ego
I often find it very difficult to rest.
I like to be productive. My own definition of productive, that is. I like to feel like I am getting my body stronger or improving.
Of course, rest is critical to the process, but my programming to “do” has been a deep one to slowly unravel.
Setbacks due to overworking, sometimes through serious injury (there can even be a sense of pride around “nothing stopping me”) have happened to me multiple times in the last year or so as I dealt with my first experience of this.
Ego can be remarkably stubborn, and it has taken some of this literal blunt force and physical pain in order for me to even begin to get the memo!
I’ve improved in this area quite a bit, but there is still a tendency, the moment I feel even a bit better, I want to push myself. I recognize it better than before and adjust.
Other areas of life where I have less resistance, I can enjoy being amazed at how something I felt the energy to do 6 months ago suddenly ends up paying off in a big way.
There is a distinct difference between the energy, which may actually be whispering to rest, vs. the ego yelling saying “you NEED to be productive today and keep going!”
You will find all sorts of things come up for you as you experiment with this.
It presents another opportunity to discover and learn more about yourself, and let go of some things that have been holding you back.
At the same time, you may find yourself actually accomplishing more with less resistance and negative self-talk, as you begin to FEEL what it is like to do what the energy is telling you to do.
Let me know what happens, or anything that comes up you’d want to explore further!
Thanks! I needed to read this. Right on time as usual. Hehe, jk. The universe does have a way of being right on time though.
I’m actually tired and have been feeling like I need to veg out and be unproductive.
I’ve worked 4 weeks straight now with only 1 day of every week. It’s getting to me.
My life is growing, and I want to ride the growth, but I’m tired. Meditation is also going pretty good for me too, but I’m over simulated and under rested.
Absolutely. You have been working hard and accomplished a lot recently – you can be proud of that. It does create a new challenge in how to rest and balance without that fear of losing momentum, but like the other things you will improve with experience for sure.