Within this wired culture, we’ve become edited versions of ourselves. We may tweet, “just got a new Pepsi, new bottle design. Sweet!” but we don’t say, “I’m sad and alone. I had no one to talk to so I went to the store to chat with the clerk while buying a Pepsi.”
I can’t help but wonder, what’s the cost of becoming our “edited” selves instead of our authentic selves? We shouldn’t share just gumdrops and butterflies, because the hearty and rocky parts are what help us find our authentic selves.
-Phil Hansen Art That Embraces Our Limits
One of the most common struggles I work with people on is the art of maintaining relationships based on authenticity and vulnerability. It’s a challenge to unedit ourselves. Social media is all about showcasing our lives into carefully edited constructs of perfection and that often carries over into the nonvirtual world. If you find yourself in a place of comparison, judgment, insecurity, or shame you might benefit from practicing vulnerability and authenticity on a more regular basis.
Here’s a great article on dealing with a creative block by Lisa Wiley, LMFT:
After the creative person has been in an immersed state of creative flow, at some point he or she must exit this space. Whether it’s the result of having to tend to other responsibilities or ideas have run out, departing from this creative bliss can feel terrifying to the artist. As one steps back and reviews the work that’s been created, this leaves the artist susceptible to self-doubt and self-criticism. During this pause, anxiety and panic can resurface. What felt like an intense and energized period of creating can suddenly shift to self-judgment and a lack of self-confidence. For this reason, one may have difficulty re-entering the creative process and instead find themselves creatively blocked. It’s important to understand that this is a normal occurrence for anyone who is creating. Accepting that this can happen at any moment during the creative process is the first step to better understanding one’s own creative practice. It doesn’t matter how many years of experience, how well one has mastered their skill, this still occurs with even the most advanced creative professional. How does one re-enter that flow of creativity after exiting a phase that seemed so productive? It’s important to turn to alternative realms of immersion in order to avoid becoming blocked. Immersed experiences happen outside of one’s regular creative work. They ignite inspiration and offer ways to connect to oneself and others. Other forms of immersion, nurtures and refuels the artist, preparing them to reengage with the creative process.
Forms of Immersive Experiences Connection with Nature When one steps out of his/her home, office or art studio and into the outdoors, it’s as if the creative spirit takes in a deep breath. Something about blue skies, sunlight, and fresh air transforms the artist’s frame of mind. This could be as simple as a walk through a botanical garden, or a hike through a state park. Connecting with nature can offer a way to revitalize one’s creativity. Other Forms of Creativity Exposing oneself to other forms of creative work can reawaken inspiration. For instance, take a stroll through an art gallery or get lost in book of poetry. Listen to a beautifully composed piece of music or go to a concert to see a favorite group perform live. See a movie that conjures deep thinking and alternative ways of looking at life. Meditating/Yoga Going inward and connecting with yourself and your body can be an immersive experience. Being forced to slow down and be mindful in the present moment can remove unwanted busyness from your thoughts. When we allow ourselves to go inward we connect with our authentic self and get back in touch with what our creative soul most needs. Experience Other Cultures Stepping out of your comfort zone and outside of what’s familiar is a great way of exposing yourself to new and exciting things. This can renew inspiration and shake up new ideas. You don’t necessarily need to go out of the country. Sometimes simply attending an ethnic festival or going to an exotic restaurant can provide a similar adventure. Immersing yourself in a new culture can provide a whole new perception of colors, stories and rituals. Connection with Others Artists have been known for living solitary lives in order to do their art. Although a certain amount of alone time is essential for the creative process, what is equally important for the artist is connection with others. This deep connection can be with a parent, partner, friend or therapist. Relationships provide a meaningful source of support, strength and courage for the artist to continue to face the creative process. Create in a Different Medium Sometimes without even knowing it, we get trapped in the routine of creating in the same medium day after day. Exposing yourself to a medium completely different from your usual skill can help get creativity flowing again. If you’re a writer take a sculpting or a dance class. If you’re an artist, learn an instrument or write poetry. Sometimes even the simplest creativity like decorating a room in your house or selecting the right flowers for your garden can provide an immersive experience. Make it agoal to seek out and fill your life with experiences that will revitalize motivation and inspiration for your creative work. Just as getting enough sleep or eating the right foods is essential to a healthy body, having immersive experiences is necessary to sustain one’s creativity.
Resource: Standing at Water’s Edge: Moving Past Fear, Blocks, and Pitfalls to Discover the Power of Creative Immersion by Anne Paris, Ph.D, New World Library; 1st American edition (April 28, 2008)
“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. But we need unstructured time for creativity to foster, down time in which we mess around and let our disconnected thoughts gel into something cool.” – Tim Krieder, 2012
I love this video. Jessica’s positive thinking is cantagious and makes me think I can do anything as well. While we might not have the energy (or agility) to recreate her morning affirmations, the idea behind positive self talk is worth taking a look at. Maintaining a negative outlook makes it difficult to cope with stress, impacts relationships for the worse, and is generally not good for our overall psychological and physiological well being.
Treat yourself well. If you value yourself through action, positive thoughts will often follow. Sleep, exercise, diet, and appearence matter.
Find humor in every day life. Make an effort to smile and laugh often – it feels good.
Surround yourself with positive people. Be open to new perspectives.
Check in with yourself periodically to assess if your thoughts are positive or negative. Look for ways to reframe or put a positive spin on defeated thinking.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t tell yourself anything you wouldn’t say to someone else.
Be patient. It takes practice to shift the way we think. Pay attention to when you succeed.