Book Review: “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” -by Elizabeth Gilbert

You may be asking yourself what is a book review doing on a CrossFit website? Not only a book review, but a book about creative living and fear? What does that have to do with today’s WOD?

More than you may imagine!

First, here at Banshee we like to try to support all aspects of a member’s life to help them feel their best in varying areas of their lives, not just movement. We also have a nutrition program that we consistently look at where people my be “hungry” for more in their lives and how we can help them satisfy that hunger with healthy habits and find doable ways to step around our fears.

With that being said, I (the nutrition coach!) am  constantly searching for materials that might help me get our passion to live a well rounded healthy lifestyles out to our members. That is how I came to Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”

Often, when we are out and about in the community talking about CrossFit, we here people say things like “Oooo, CrossFit… that is too intimidating for me!” or, “I couldn’t do that, I don’t know how to do pull-ups.”, or, “That is not for me, I would be the last one working out while everyone else is done!.” Sadly each of these statements are based off of fears… fear sucks! Literally, it is very draining, whether it be fear of the unknown, humiliation, pushing to discomfort, or a whole host of other fears. Gilbert talks about these limiting beliefs extensively in her book along with how and why to try a different approach.

In the chapter An Amplified Existence she explains; “when I refer to ‘creative living,’ I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” Then a little further down the page, “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art , in and of itself.”

I can’t tell you how many times we had member’s come in intimidated and thick with self-doubt to only find that Olympic lifting, or gymnastics moves, or wallballs are their hidden jewel and they come to rock the hell out of them.

In another vein of promoting curiosity one passage really stood out to me from this book. It came from the chapter The Empty Bucket:

The most important benefit of my years of disciplined, solitary work was that I began to recognize the emotional patterns of creativity — or, rather, I began to recognize *my* patterns. I could see that there were psychological cycles to my own creative process, and that those cycles were always pretty much the same.

“Ah,” I learned to say when I would inevitably begin to lose heart for a project just a few weeks after I’d enthusiastically begun it. “This is the part of the process where I wish I’d never engaged with this idea at all. I remember this. I always go through this stage.”

   Or: “This is the part where I tell myself that I’ll never write a good sentence again.”

   Or: This is the part where I beat myself up for being a lazy loser.”

She goes on with more stages in her creative process. But you get the idea. Those motivation-killing messages, ideas, beliefs, that pop into our heads when we are trying something new and challenging.

For me, this experience of understanding my stages, really set in with my 5th (FIFTH!) time of practicing the first habits of the Nutrition Module about appetite awareness.

I started to see the patterns and cycles that could have derailed me in the past but with persistence and relentless practice, I didn’t give up. As a great by-product of continuing to try and “fail” I came to no longer be as attached to those beliefs (i.e. I’m a lazy loser for messing up on my habit practice. And therefore faltering because I have a nasty perfectionist tendency.) It was a lot more freeing to take in those sabotaging thoughts, triggers, and behaviors as points of data and then just keep trying to get better. And lo-and-behold each time I practiced I was more successful because I understood my internal pitfalls better.


Thank you, @just_make_things for just making this thing! I ❤️ it. #bigmagic #bloom #keepshowingup

A photo posted by Elizabeth Gilbert (@elizabeth_gilbert_writer) on Apr 14, 2016 at 7:31am PDT

So if you are looking to find a little more courage to try something that you feel like is difficult, new, foreign, confusing, or scary to you. Grab this book and realize you are not alone in searching for ways to build a fuller, healthier life for yourself.




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