How many times have you started a new project and stopped when it got to the tough part? Perhaps your mind was telling you it wasn’t worth it, or it wouldn’t be this hard if you were really meant to do this.

Maybe it just wasn’t fun!

My guess is you stopped when the creative tension kicked in — that gap between what has been, and what is to be. The confusing, frustrating, “what do I do next?” part of the process. You could be learning something new, or stepping out of your comfort zone. It also could feel like one big void, and let’s face it, that’s uncomfortable!

This is when our “rational” mind can kick in and start to throw water on our idea. It might even kick the whole baby out at the same time!

I’ve personally experienced this too many times to count. (I even wrote a book about it!)


Moving through creative tension might feel
prickly, but the result is a beautiful flower.

We all experience creative tension. It’s a natural part of the process of trying out new ideas or ways of sharing our message, or walking through stage fright.

The creative journey is a journey into your intuitive mind. Your intuitive mind is this vast wonderful playground of creativity:

“Brain researchers estimate that your unconscious database outweighs your conscious on an order exceeding ten million to one. This database is the source of your hidden, natural genius. In other words, a part of you is much smarter than you are. The wise people regularly consult that smarter part.” ~
Michael J. Gelb, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

Your intuitive mind doesn’t play by the rules. In fact, there are no rules. This can make us extremely nervous because our conscious minds really like structure and certainty. We want to know what’s going to happen! Fear of the unknown, fear of making a mistake, fear of wasting time and money — all these ideas can come up to throw us off course, even when we know that “not knowing” is part of the process.

Sometimes that limited voice of fear can be so strong we don’t even let ourselves start. We find all kinds of excuses when, in reality, if we just said yes, we’d find our way.

Going through creative tension is absolutely essential to get to your goal.

When you experience creative tension, that’s a sure sign you’ve left the shore of what has been and are on your way to where you want to go. You have left your current mindset and understanding. You’ve broken through the “stuck zone” and are getting ready to enter the “new possibilities zone.”

So, if you’re in the process of creating something new and feel confused, frustrated, angry even, you’re on the right track because pretty soon, you’ll be getting those wonderful aha insights that will take you to your new solution.

The question is, how do you get through creative tension without losing it?

  1. Breathe. When you feel discomfort, take a few deep breaths, focusing on them as they come in and go out. This will both energize and calm you.
  2. Reframe your experience. Recognize this is part of the process, not a sign that things have gone wrong. Thank your rational mind for its concern and let yourself get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  3. Be patient so the germination process can proceed. Then, as ideas emerge, write them down. Sometimes your solution will come all at once, other times in pieces.

As one of my clients often says, the creative process isn’t for weenies! Then again, nothing of true meaning or greatness can happen in your life or organization without it. Remember this when you hit the creative tension portion of the program.