‘Join a hiking club!’ My friend enthused. ‘You’re a singer! You could join a choir, or an art group! Volunteer work! Or take a holiday, you might find you want to travel again. Change careers! You could be a teacher. Why not go back to study? Why don’t you go to parties? What happened to the book you wrote? You just have to find your own purpose!’
He didn’t understand.
I was bored, flat, dissatisfied with life but not inspired to change anything. I didn’t know what I wanted, so I didn’t know what to do or work towards. Nothing excited me, nothing made sense, I had no goals and no energy to do anything about the nebulous things I felt needed ‘fixing’ or ‘doing’.
Most of us have been here, especially after a couple of mentally and physically exhausting years in which our options have been limited, and our energy may have been consumed by simple day-to-day coping. The ‘Groundhog Day’ effect may have left us feeling flat and uninspired, and this can be a difficult groove to break free of.
You can’t force inspiration; by its very nature, it strikes when you least expect it. But it certainly favours the prepared. Here are some ways I’ve found to shift the ‘flat’ energy and allow inspiration to re-enter my life.
1. Ensure your physiological needs are met
Yes, boring I know, but oh so important. Sleep, water, nutritious food, exercise. Excessive alcohol, smoking, or sugar is going to sap your energy and affect your mental health, so start with a tune-up on these areas of your life.
2. Be open
Openness to experience is the personality trait most strongly associated with feeling inspired. See if you can let go of rigid ideas and stories about what is and isn’t possible or right for you, and approach the world with openness and curiosity.
3. Go on a long drive or walk
No music, no podcasts, no company. Your brain seeks amusement, and without external input, it will make its own. Giving your mind a chance to get bored and wander aimlessly leads to new ideas and improved creativity.
When we feel bored or listless, we can be quick to fill the space with aimless social media scrolling, Netflix, games, snacks, workaholism, or whatever idle habits and addictions we’re partial to. Yet this space is often exactly where inspiration is lying in wait.
5. Get inspired by others
The internet is awash with inspiring TED talks, podcasts, blogs, and stories of people doing amazing things and sharing their thoughts, experiences, and insights. Browse art, read poetry, check out travel blogs, let other people’s fires ignite yours.
6. Understand your core values
By knowing what’s truly important to you, what excites you and gives you a sense of purpose, you can understand where to put your attention and time and improve your chances of becoming inspired.
7. Change your environment
When you give your brain the same input each day, it will reliably return similar output, so new stimulus will shake things up. Can you work in a different location some days? Perhaps eat somewhere new or have a weekend away. If you live in the city, consider visiting a friend in the country.
Writing a journal is a wonderful way to explore your own thoughts and feelings and help ideas and clarity bubble up from your unconscious realms. Daily prompts can encourage you to think about new things and give your brain novel material to chew on.
9. Do something physical
Sometimes, you just need to get out of your own head and back into your body to shift the flat energy. Dance, run, lift heavy things, whatever works for you. If you catch yourself ruminating, gently let it go and focus on the sensations in your body when you work it.
10. Do something, anything
As Picasso said, ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working’. While we may find ourselves looking for the inspiration to start working, inspiration is more likely to hit once you’re already doing the thing.
11. Be self-compassionate
You can’t be inspired, motivated, and creative all the time. Life has ebbs and flows, and rest and maintenance are just as important as drive and creation. Avoid pressuring yourself or giving yourself a hard time for being ‘unproductive’. Self-compassion is key.
12. Get support
Sometimes, it can be difficult to extract ourselves from the feeling of ‘stuck’, particularly if we’re too stuck to do the things that will get us unstuck.
In cases like this, a trained and experienced Gestalt therapist can help you with the insight, support, and tools you need to shift things. Rather than focusing narrowly on a formulaic approach to symptom reduction or rehashing the past, we focus on your unique needs here and now, and take your individual life and context into consideration.
To talk to us about how we can help you reclaim your inspiration, get in touch today for a free consultation call.