When Trying to Make Things Work is Making You Feel Hopeless

For the creative world-makers it’s hard to hear that this is the way it is and always will be!

In fact, chances are, you reject a rigid statement like that. Nothing, absolutely nothing needs to stay the way it is, and it shouldn’t!

I applaud your creativity. I understand it. I have it. And I’ve had to learn to be mindful about what I apply it to, because…

In fact, the creative side of you that sees how things could and should be different is missing out on something huge.

She is missing out on knowing herself. (Or himself, for the guys reading this)

Let me explain.

As a creative person, you can kind of throw yourself into things. You go out there, you get started, you figure out what is what along the way. This is all good. No point endlessly pondering things in advance!

Yet, here’s the problem: when you always dive into things with the attitude of “I will figure out how to make this work along the way” then you can end up engaging with impossible projects (or: impossible relationships) and try to make those work at all costs.

You just keep tweaking things, and since you’re so busy being busy with it all, you forget to check and look back to ask yourself: is this realistically possible?


Is it realistically possible?


For the very stubborn creatives out there, let me spell out what realistic means:

Realistic means that:

1. Your project welcomes the change you deem necessary.

2. The energy it takes to make change happen is a small percentage of your total daily energy. (In other words, if change takes 3 years, no problem! It’s not going to exhaust you).

O.k. so what does this have to do with knowing yourself, and how could you be missing out on that?

When you creatively engage with the world, looking for ways to make things better, you run the risk of not seeing the big picture. You come up against something that doesn’t feel right, so you throw all your energy at changing it. Meanwhile, you’re not seeing how this one thing that isn’t right, is part of a bigger structure that isn’t right.

And when I say “isn’t right” I mean: isn’t right for you.

You can end up getting into something that isn’t right for you but because your focus is always on figuring out how to smoothe out the next wrinkle. By working so hard, you lose sight of the bigger picture.

Let’s look at this as making a dress.

You go out to get some fabric. You want a dress and something about the fabric appealed to you. You haven’t decided yet on the particular style of dress you want, but you figure you can decide on that later.

The fabric you chose is silky and a bit stiff. You look at dress patterns you like and pick one for a flowy dress. When you’re making the dress using the stiff fabric, you realise something doesn’t look right.

After pondering it for a while, you realise the fabric has stiff folds that don’t do the pattern justice. So you go and google for ways to make stiff fabric softer. And, now that you think about it, you also realise the colour doesn’t suit you, so you get some fabric dye to make the fabric another colour.

As it turns out, the silky texture doesn’t really allow for dyeing… That is, regular fabric dye doesn’t work, but there’s a special kind you can get on Amazon that might work…

Can you see how this is turning into a lot of work, especially when you don’t want to give up?


It’s o.k. to stop fixing


Granted, there are plenty of people – HSPs included – who give up really quickly and for them, learning how to hang in there a bit longer would work magic! But for those of us who are already plenty determined to make it work there is an art to keeping track of the number of disappointments and unexpected adjustments.

Don’t tell yourself that this will be the “final” bit of work and then everything will be great. Thinking that way turns into a slippery slope of Never Ending Work (Yes, trying something N.E.W. can mean Never Ending Work if you’re not careful!). You could end up trying to turn that dress into a winter coat. Yes, the possibilities are endless, and also exhausting.

Experimenting like this is wonderful and can be a lot of fun, but ultimately it’s meant to be a way to get to know yourself better and figure out what you really want. As you’re working on the dress, you discover what kind of dress you really want. Rather than trying to change everything about the current dress to make it right, how about starting over? Now that you know what you want, starting over will be much easier. You’ll be able to get the right fabric from the get go, and you already have the design you want. Easy peasy!

Next time you’re flexing your alchemy muscles to turn an apple into a pear, it’s worth pausing midway and realising: “aha, I thought I wanted an apple, but what I really want is a pear!”

There’s no shame in that. There’s no shame in needing to try things on for size to understand what size you really need.

It only becomes a problem when you keep trying to turn one thing into something else. And this is where knowing yourself comes in.

When you keep trying to change things into something else, you never pause to reflect on who you are and what you need. Instead, you keep trying to make things work by throwing all your energy into it. And that’s exhausting.


You can work so hard that you start to feel hopeless


Chances are, at some point you start to feel hopeless. Thing is, it’s not because there is no hope for you. It’s just that, when you try to turn a bridge into an elephant, at some point, you’ll get exhausted and stuck! You need to step back and ask yourself:

  1. What am I trying to create?
  2. How is what I am trying to create diffferent from what is here right now?
  3. What is the thing I am trying to create called? Where can I find it ready-made? What qualities does it have that I should be looking for?

I created a fillable PDF worksheet to make thinking this through easier:





(Be sure to click the download button, then save the fillable PDF to your computer. You can now type in it and save your notes and reuse the worksheet as many times as you like – feel free to share it with friends too)

When you actually do step 3, then you are taking the time to turn your creative work into self-knowledge. This is very useful! It means you can stop doing what is exhausting you and directly look for what you actually want, from the get go!

How amazing is that!

Instead of trying to turn a sidetable into a bed, you can go and look for the bed that has the qualities you want! Instead of knitting all your tea towels into one big blanket, you can just go and get a big blanket! Instead of inviting lots of rude people to a party and trying to teach them how to behave, you can instead invite a bunch of well-behaved people!

This is a major time-hack. When you practice this, you will have so much time left that you could start a whole new side-business. Or maybe first, you can just catch up on some much needed sleep.


P.S. I know that even though this is simple, it can be far from easy – depending on the project you apply it to. In making changes that make sense, and that we understand are helpful we’re also up against a lot of difficult feelings and old habits that can be hard to break. The first step though is getting a sense of new possibilities. From there, if you need help, you can always reach out by setting up a Clarity Call. Because… the whole point of this is to start breaking the habit of just trying to work harder and somehow make it work on your own, right? We all get overwhelmed and hopeless when we try to just keep on keeping on by ourselves.


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In other words, your sensitivity is actually a language. But when you don't know what it means you just hear: overwhelm, exhaustion, grief!

And when you don't know what it means, you can't do what it's trying to tell you to do to feel better!


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