‘Creativity is the love of something, having so much love for something whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, a land or humanity that all that can be done with the overflow is to create. It is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will, one solely must.’
Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves
Being creative allows us to tap into our true selves, to become more authentic and to express that authenticity to others. Sadly, however, there can be blocks to creativity. Acknowledging the blocks can be the first step in freeing ourselves. Blocks can include but are not limited to:
- Trauma and other adverse experiences
- Familial or societal ideals or values
- The critical voice in your head
The affect of trauma and adversity on our ability to be creative
Internal Family Systems theory tells us that there are eight C words that make up our true self. These are: calmness, clarity, confidence, curiosity, compassion, connectedness, creativity and courage. Being creative is an important part of our true self and denying creativity can stunt our growth and stop us from feeling alive. Unfortunately when we have experienced trauma and adversity we are less able to access these eight parts of ourselves, including creativity. This is because protectors step in (who think they are helping). These protectors can include rageful outbursts, controlling behaviour, obsessive thoughts, judgement and addictive patterns that can lead to drug, alcohol and other kinds of abuse. All these things can stop us from truly connecting with the eight Cs.
The affect of familial or societal ideals on our creative life
It may be easier to be creative in some families or societies than others. Perhaps you grew up in a family where creativity was embraced and valued. If so there is probably still a chance that creativity was belittled by some in the wider community or school, for instance.
For some people creativity may have been maligned. Your family might have told you creativity was pointless, saying that there were much ‘better’ ways to spend your time and certainly much ‘better’ ways to make a living. Some communities may not value creativity either. Some people may say to artists: ‘when are you going to get a proper job?’
Once these messages have sunk in it can be really difficult to believe any different so that when we think we would like to do something creative we immediately find something ‘more important’ to do. What could be more important than expressing our true selves and trying to make sense of the world around us (for ourselves and others)?
The Critical Voice Stunts Creativity
Perhaps as a young child it was easier to spontaneously and without self-judgement create paintings, drawings, songs and stories. Whatever the kind of upbringing we’ve had, after the age of about ten, we start to worry a bit more about what people think of us and this includes what people might think about our creative work.
Some people might have the added problem that they received a lot of criticism in their early years, from family, teachers, bullies or a combination of these sources. This may mean we have a brain which is far too hard on ourselves. This can make it incredibly difficult to be creative.
You might recognise some of these blocks to creativity and wonder how to overcome them. I will explore this next time and I will also start sharing some of my own (Goddess Within relevant!) creative work.