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Break Through Blocks


Is there that one thing (maybe two or three) that you have always secretly wanted to do? Maybe you pushed it so far to the back of your mind that you forgot what it was.

Whether or not you can name that thing, you may know the voice that discourages you, warns you from stepping out of your comfort zone, tries to “protect you” from failure, or god forbid, success.

I didn’t even realize that deep down I secretly wanted to be a published writer. For 42 years of my life, I told the world, “I’m not a writer.” It was convenient and less stressful. I could do something safe for a job or try things that were so far out of reach nobody expected me to succeed.

Other people in my family and “friends” corroborated my story growing up. Teachers too. “Therese isn’t a writer. Her friends, Kathleen and Mary, are writers. They got the A’s in writing.”

One member in the family claimed to be the writer in the family and rewrote some of my high school essays when she read them over. More proof I could put writing in the back of my mind. I didn’t have to come forward and write anything. What a relief. And I buried any hint of desire.

An unexpected job opportunity

A funny thing happened. I needed a job desperately. I had my belongings in my car and no place to live. I was headed back home to live with family. Long story short, I got an interview for a teaching job at a community college and didn’t have to move. One of the courses I would teach? Writing!

I remember, right before the job interview, I asked another professor how she taught writing. It was minutes before the interview. I used her exact response in the job interview and got the job despite 12 other candidates with more qualifications.

I was grateful for the income but now I had to teach writing. I crammed. I met with other teachers who knew how to write and teach writing. I used my lack of confidence and writing experience to help my students succeed. When I met unconfident students (which was most of them), I empathized with them because it was my life story. My lack of a great track record made me their advocate. I became passionate in helping others find their own voice. I knew how painful it was to not have that space to experiment in safety. I also had few opinions about what “good writing” was.

So, my life went fairly smoothly at work. I assisted others in becoming writers and expressing their voices. As the years went on, my favorite course to teach became the advanced writing course. Students excelled because I honed in on their individual strengths and graded their writing based on their progress. Sure, there were minimum requirements they had to fulfill regarding grammar and fluency, but other than that, the most important thing was for them to find their voice.

Then a problem arose after 10 semesters of teaching writing. I had an idea for a book and I couldn’t shake it. I wanted to share the unique ways I got my students to come out of their shells, transcend their anxiety in the classroom using one-act plays, comedic improvisation, chi-kung and more.

Now I had to learn to write.

It took me years to put together my book, Why Zarmina Sings.

Today, although I have written blog posts and other books, I still come up against the “inner critic,” the voice that pooh-poohs what I write.

Before writing this blog post, I looked over other possible writings and thought “Oh, that’s just horrible.” And I was stuck. For weeks, I didn’t write a thing.

Transcend the inner critic

Then I remembered. The inner critic. That voice that kept me quiet all those years. There it is again, raising its ugly head. Maybe this is happening to others! I can write about that and help others move past their own inner critic!

Maybe there are other people who struggle with this voice, these blockages to creating the thing they want to create. A way to deal with the inner critic is to write to it or about it. Face it head-on.

Here are some ways to deal with the inner critic, the voice that tries to tell you to clean the house first, or that you are not a writer, or that you can’t apply for that job, or create that painting, or start that business.

Dialogue with it in writing. What is it saying? Why is it saying this to you? What is it trying to protect? Take 10-15 minutes to write back and forth with this inner critic.

While you’re at it, what else is this inner critic hiding from you, trying to convince you, you cannot do? Scour the subconscious with pen and paper. Write to this critic or this wall, or this mother or father figure, or Aunt Bess! Do this whenever you feel blocked.

When I did this, I was able to dislodge the blockage and the creativity began to flow.

Write through

Journaling is a great tool to get yourself out of a jam. Journaling is a great tool to get to the bottom of what it is you have always wanted to do, but been afraid to do. So next time you are stuck, confused, blocked, write a dialogue with the critic or the ego or the blockage itself. Maybe it isn’t a persona. Maybe it’s a green blob or a wall.

I believe one of the reasons we are here is to break through blockages, swim upstream to higher consciousness to make something new. Whatever form resistance takes, just know it is there for you to break through to something greater.

These are rough waters, but you can do it. There’s company; your friends out here trying to swim against the resistance and blockages to raise consciousness.

Write through the resistance, my friend, write through.