I just listened to Elizabeth Gilbert in conversation with Brene Brown on Gilbert’s Magic Lessons Podcast.
Gilbert talks about the martyrdom of creativity, a notion that “creativity is only born suffering, sacrifice, pain and torment. But when we open ourselves up to the idea that it can be done joyfully, collectively, lovingly, forgivingly, then that’s the work that can be done.”
I love how Brene speaks of how she wrote her book, Rising Strong as a collaborative, story-telling process. Brown wasn’t the martyr who forced herself to sit still for hours on end and churn it out. She was “mid-wifed”. Her book was born out of days and weeks of talking and discussing with beloved colleagues and champions of hers. She got creative even with her creative process and leveraged her gift of speaking aloud.
Gilbert names it: martyrdom. To me, it’s an old pattern, just one of many “legacy systems” passed down for generations, of people who never knew self-love.
As a child I heard it from my martial arts teacher and athletic coaches: “No pain no gain!” Words that echoed in my head to the point that I wore stress fractures into my feet.
And from my grandmother who passed it along to my mother who whispered, “Beauty must suffer,” as she pulled my hair tight into perfect side pigtails.
I started to pull the plug on that particular legacy system encoded within me the day I wrote my values list. In my Top 3 is grace (& ease). I find so much joy in making things that much cleaner, that much clearer that any micro-movement is a powerful wingtip manuever midflight as I soar.
I’ve organized my life so differently now that when I went to the gym for the first time in years it felt odd to hear the voice and sadistic tone of the spin instructor, “feel the burn..if you aren’t in pain you aren’t working.” I knew how far I’d come, these words, this tone, once so familiar, now alien.