Make a Compassionate Commitment to Your Art

Woman writing on desk with flowers

In September of last year, I began a class to train as a yoga teacher. My goals are to get stronger and healthier, and to lose weight. And I want to be able to offer morning yoga classes at my creativity retreats.

My intention was to attend yoga class five times a week. But, as happens, life has intervened the last few months (the holidays, a deadline, an injury).

Each time something keeps me from my yoga practice, and I take that next yoga class after a couple weeks without practicing, there’s a little voice that tempts me to give up.

I’m very familiar with that voice from my creative life. It’s my impatient saboteur. What does it care about? “Being there” already!

Woman jumping


Sometimes, my saboteur whines about all the time, space, and effort between the excitement of starting something new, and reaching the goal—“Nirvana!”

Buddha statue with flowers



Because doing the work involves routine. (You know, that regular focused action that moves you forward, but can also suck the life out of inspiration.)

Creative people have a love-hate relationship with routine. Too much, and it’s stifling. Too little, and we drift.

So what’s a creative soul to do?

In the past, when faced with setbacks and roadblocks in my creative pursuits, I might have given up, telling myself I was putting it off until a “better” time. But my experience being coached—and coaching others—has taught me a lot about that sneaky saboteur:

She’s wrong. There is no better time. Now is the time.

Although I can’t eliminate my inner saboteur’s voice, I can out-smart her. And so can you—by making a compassionate commitment  to your art.

Practicing both compassion and commitment is a balance between soft and hard, yin and yang, being and doing. Too much of one and too little of the other, and either you don’t accomplish much, or you force yourself to meet a goal, losing a little soul along the way.

It’s normal  to get in slumps, or fail to follow through, now and then. Stop judging yourself for being like the rest of the human race. Instead, choose to treat yourself with compassion.

Many sensitive people struggle with being kind to themselves. If you are one of those dear souls, ask yourself this:

Would you treat a friend the way you treat yourself when you make a mistake, or don’t follow through?

If the answer is “no,” then why is it okay to treat yourself that way? It isn’t. (And all it does is make things worse.)

The beauty of practicing compassion is that, over time, practice can lead to proficiency. Like my yoga classes, it builds up muscle. It gets easier to brush that saboteur out of the way and be kind to yourself.

However, if you’re not getting anywhere, you also need to be honest with yourself about whether you are committed to your goal. That means seeing clearly without being judgmental  (remember the compassion part?).

Making a real commitment to your project, and to yourself, is key. It’s much harder to maneuver out of something when you make a commitment.

So say it out loud to someone—your accountability partner, perhaps.

Tell your supportive friends.

Small hands holding paper heart

Your commitment to yourself
is sacred.

Be true to yourself. Don’t hedge, downplay, or apologize. Use the word “commitment.” Because that’s what it is, and your commitment to yourself is just as sacred as your commitment to someone else.

Let me repeat that. Your commitment to yourself is just as sacred as your commitment to someone else.

Remember my yoga practice? Each time I go to a yoga class, I’m a little stronger. I’ve made a compassionate commitment to my health, and I’m getting there, two steps forward and one step back at a time.

Posted in Commitment, Compassion, Inner Critic.