~ May 2007~

The Wisdom of Blocks

You’re stuck. You can’t write or, perhaps, practice piano. The folder with plans to redecorate your living room sits on your desk, gathering dust. You’re procrastinating about working on your resume or finishing the garden you started planting a month ago. You may be accomplishing other things, e.g. a writer friend of mine said, “My kitchen is never cleaner than when I have a writing deadline.” You can’t get to an important project even though you desperately want to. You’ve read all the books on overcoming blocks, checked the websites and you have a list of 20 how-to’s for getting unstuck.

What if this obstacle is a part of you trying to get your attention? Perhaps the block contains important messages and won’t fully shift until you hear what it has to say. Our psyche is always trying to signal us as to what needs attention in our lives. Dreams are one way the unconscious communicates to us. The psychologist, Carl Jung, said that the symbols in dreams provide us with messages as to where we’re in or out of balance and, further, point us toward what we need to do to restore equilibrium. Symptoms and syndromes of all kinds, such as creative blocks, often contain valuable insights and will offer their wisdom to us if we are willing to listen.

What is your block trying to tell you? Fear is often at the root of a block. Clare had a collection of short stories published and received much acclaim for her work. She couldn’t get back to writing and didn’t know what was stopping her. In examining the block, Clare uncovered a fear that she would never be able to repeat her first success, that any other writing would necessarily fall short. Another client had to give a presentation to department heads in his organization and was terrified. Anthony experienced debilitating stage fright every time he had to speak in front of a large group. His public speaking block revealed that he expected to be judged harshly. He looked more deeply into this fear and remembered how often his attempts at self expression were criticized by one or both of his perfectionist parents. Roger worked in a bank, but his passion was to become a high school teacher. Whenever it was time to do research on credential programs, he would distract himself for hours with computer games. We explored his resistance and he was surprised to find that he was afraid of reaching for his dream. No one in his family completed college, let alone went on to do graduate work. In his mind, if he succeeded, he’d be alienated from his family because he would “outshine them,” as he said.

Once you discover what lies at the heart of your block you know what needs attention and healing in order for you to move forward. Don’t try to force resolution. Let your conscious self guide you toward who or what will help you address these deeper issues. By listening and responding to the wisdom of the block you are integrating your shadow, aspects of yourself that have been out of reach. Now, when you create your goals and action steps, you’re bringing your whole self along, conscious and unconscious, and you have a much better chance for success.


Write a dialogue between your conscious self and your block.

Ask questions like: Why are you in my life? What is your history? What are you trying to tell me? What can I learn from you? What do you need?

Your dialogue might look like this (short version):

You: I’ve always wanted to write a book about…..., but I’m not writing. What’s in my way?

Block: You are putting everything else first even though you love to write. Writing keeps ending up at the bottom of your lists.

You: Right. Why do I do that?

Block: You are afraid you have nothing to say. So…you simply say nothing.

You: Where does that fear come from?

Etc. Continue on with this dialogue asking any questions you want until you have insights about the block. An important question to ask, perhaps at the end, is “What do you need from me?” or “What do you need for healing?”

If you would like to learn more about my coaching services and programs for writing, creativity and psychospiritual development, just click on the link at the bottom of the page to contact me for a free consultation.

Also, if you wish to hear Debbie Ford’s January 2007 radio interview with me on the subject of creative blocks click here.

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