In the inaugural 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders, there were a handful of writing prompts that got the most vocal, most visceral responses from participants. What you’ll find below are a week’s worth of the most breakthrough-inducing prompts, the ones that most helped people detect and release their limiting factors.
If you’re ready to unlock your own untapped potential and step more fully into who you were called to be, I believe these prompts will meet you right where you’re at. Try writing to one of these prompts each day for 7 days, ideally in order. Let me know how it goes!
Prompt of the Day [POD] #1: The Struggle Is Real. Maybe. Wait a minute. . .
Is the struggle actually real? Is that saying really true? Write about how you know it is or is not, using an example of a struggle you’ve experienced in your own life.
Prompt of the Day [POD] #2: Resistance is futile. And sometimes fatal.
In his truly life-changing book War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about the mortal enemy of dreams and creative beings everywhere: Resistance.
His concept of Resistance is a negative energy that arises when we take “any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity.” He says the activities that most commonly spark Resistance are:
- “The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional”
- Entrepreneurial ventures
- Diet and health regimens
- “Any program of spiritual advancement”
- “Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals”
- “Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction”
- Any act of political, moral or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves,”
and the list goes on.
All of these things trigger Resistance. And what does Resistance look like? Pressfield says that Resistance includes any/all of the following:
- Shadow careers [Read: Are you trapped in a shadow career?]
- Addiction to drink, drugs, love, money, disasters, etc.
Prompt: When was the last time you tried to do something that triggered Resistance? What did that look like? How does it feel to acknowledge this? To feel Resistance captured in words?
POD #3: Our Unlived Lives
Hey, guys – here’s a provocative thought from Dr. Jung:
Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.
—Carl Gustav Jung
In War of Art, Pressfield says:
Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
Is he right? Do you have an unlived life within you? What is it? What does that look like?
Do you feel like your unlived life influences your children? Did your parents’ unlived lives influence yours?
Whew.! I know that one was deep. But it’s also important. I promise to go a little lighter tomorrow. Just a little.
POD #4: The Lies We Tell (Ourselves)
I was out with a friend the other day, and she said “I’ve done so many spontaneous things in the last week. That’s crazy, because I’m never spontaneous.”
Couple days later I was out with another friend, who was talking about running. Another woman in the conversation asked whether my friend was a runner. She said, “I wouldn’t say that, but I run.” I said, “I think the definition of a runner is someone who runs.” And she went, “Hmm. Then I guess I’m a runner!”
These are pretty innocuous examples, but they surface some interesting questions you can take as lightly or as deeply as you’d like:
What are you telling yourself, about yourself, that’s just not true?
What aren’t you giving yourself credit for?
What do you think you want to be or do or have—physically, spiritually or even emotionally—that you in fact already are, already do, or already have?
Prompt of the Day [POD] #5: Untether it!
If you know me, you know that one of my absolute most treasured life guidebooks of all time is Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul. I own multiple copies, and keep them lent out in rotation all the time.
There’s a principle in The Untethered Soul that I think is very worth catching, if it resonates for you. If it does nothing but ignite a spark of interest in reading the book, I’ll feel like the mission has been accomplished. Here’s an excerpt, which starts with Singer talking about what he calls “a basic human tendency”:
“When something painful touches your body, you tend to pull away instinctively. You even do this with unpleasant smells and tastes. The fact is, your psyche does the same thing. If something disturbing touches it, its tendency is to withdraw, pull back and to protect itself. It does this with insecurity, jealousy, and any of the other vibrations we’ve been discussing. In essence, you “close,” which is simply an attempt to put a shield around your inner energy.
. . .
Sometimes you will go through deep experiences that bring up intense pain inside of you. If it is in there, it is going to come up. If you have any wisdom, you will leave it alone and not try to change your life to avoid it. You will just relax and give it the space it needs to release and burn through you. To feel great love and freedom, to find the presence of God within you, all of this stored pain must go.
. . .
Remember, if you close around something, you will be psychologically sensitive about that subject for the rest of your life. Because you stored it inside of you, you will be afraid that it will happen again. But if you relax instead of closing it will work its way through you. If you stay open, the blocked energy inside of you will release naturally, and you will not take on any more.”
Here’s the prompt:
Are there subjects about which the people who know you would say you are psychologically sensitive? Things people avoid bringing up around you? Are there even smells, words, sounds or objects that bring up very painful memories for you?
How intense is the pain? What do you do to avoid triggering it? What would it feel like if you could be free of it? Would you be willing to allow it to come up and burn itself out?
Whew! That one was no joke. Love ya’ll.
POD #6: What do you do that no longer serves you?
What do you do that no longer serves you? What are you getting out of doing it? Are you attached to that? What would it take for you to release it?
And who would you be, if you released it?
POD #7: Handling Unfinished Business
One of the best gifts I’ve received from therapy and my daily writing practice has been the release from resentment and hurt from the past. Charlotte Kasl writes what I know, from experience is true: “as we feel the lightness that comes from clearing the air with others, we gain the courage to continue.”
I’d even go further and say that once you operate in what I like to call the free-and-clear, you can’t really turn back. You start to realize that unresolved resentments and conflicts take up residence in your body and your spirit, and you get to a place where you literally cannot tolerate unfinished business. The pain of dishonesty or of avoiding the hurt of dealing with unresolved messes becomes much greater than the pain of facing it and working things through.
Kasl writes: “to become aware of unfinished business in your life, ask yourself the following five questions.”
Here’s the prompt:
- Who comes to mind when I think of unresolved grief, hurt, or pain?
- To whom do I need to apologize?
- With whom do I need to talk over conflict and seek some form of resolution?
- To whom do I need to send thanks?
- What are the conclusions I’ve made about myself that relate to these situations?
Source: If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path, by Charlotte Kasl.