How Thinking You Are Not Creative Blocks Your Creativity and How To Stretch Your Creative Muscle
Ever watched a 3-year old draw? With passion, gusto and focus …
There is no doubt, no second-guessing, or thoughts like “what if no one likes my drawing?” or “I am worried it’s not perfect” or “what if my brother’s picture is liked better than mine?”
Then something happens …
- Perhaps you got feedback about colouring outside of the lines,
- perhaps you coloured a cow purple, and someone mentioned how silly or wrong that is … it should have been black and white,
- perhaps you learned that you get acknowledgment only when something looks fantastic in a certain way (and “age-appropriate”) …
- perhaps you picked up cues that that creating art for the sake of it wasn’t useful or productive, a value so highly hailed in our western society.
Whatever the root cause related to internalized external explicit feedback or comparison, the resulting fear to make mistakes, fear of meeting certain expectations, fear of rejection etc has given the reigns to our inner critic which stifles the flow of creativity.
We are all born creative, but creativity is like a muscle … it atrophies when it’s not used freely and frequently and it strengthens when used freely and frequently.
Of course, it doesn’t help that our education system cultivates mostly left-brain thinking while neglecting the brain parts responsible for creativity, intuition, and emotions.
Let’s not forget as well that creativity applies to any form of expression or initiative, including academics, problem-solving, analysis, any job, trying a new recipe … not just painting, drawing or dance. But also in a corporate context, I often see people excited about an idea and then hold themselves back, not even taking the first step, believing it might be silly, too much work, risky, laughed at etc … allowing fear to stop them before even starting.
Exploring my own limitations around creativity, I observed that feeling too attached to the outcome, fear of critical voices and judgement built up a resistance holding me back from painting for many years, even though I enjoyed it very much as a child.
When Donna and I met last year and discussed a project that turned into Mindful Creations, I thought Donna would do the painting part as she’s an artist and I do the meditations, mindfulness practices and reflections as that is an area where I feel comfortable to play. Then Donna asked me to paint with her.
A real painting? Moi? Beyond drawing a doggie, easter bunnies, Santa, birthday cakes, landscapes, and funny faces with my kids, I hadn’t drawn in quite a while.
I noticed how inner critical voices became loud, and after acknowledging them, I gently escorted them out of the room. It helped immensely that Donna makes drawing and painting feel like a walk in the park with step-by-step dummy-proof (including for me ;-)) instructions.
That first painting experience really brought the energy of excitement and joy that comes from taking that leap to create. And I felt hungry for more creativity.
See on the left side my second painting (can’t find the first one on my phone now)
The reason Donna and I felt called to create retreats blending creativity, mindfulness, neuroscience, and energy medicine is that the creative process itself is an embodied experience, a powerful way to interrupt stress cycles and very grounding, facilitating a beautiful gateway into introspection and into our intuition.
I knew that and yet I also had to take the leap into discomfort and do it to FEEL it.
I am thrilled I did.
I deeply believe that being able to create without fear is one of the greatest gifts for our well-being and our joy as human beings. I also learned on my journey that the more I am moving into a space of heart-brain coherence, and the more I give myself permission to create, the more I see ripples in all areas of my life that start to flow with ease.
Start to stretch your creative muscle by reframing creativity:
What if creation is part of your everyday life, where are you creative? (hint: it may look different than what you thought up to now)
Is it in your job … making ends mean? … parenting perhaps? … gardening? … communication? … whipping up a meal from scratch? … convincing your children to go to bed at night? … finding beauty in simple things? … creativity can indeed be found in simple things, here is where it starts.
I would love to hear from you about how you are creative in your life and in what areas you would like to take a leap!