Overcoming Blocks to Creativity

Last time I explored three types of blocks to creativity. These were:

  • having experienced trauma and adversity because it can cause disturbances to being our true self
  • messages from families, media and society about creativity being unnecessary or frivolous (which is far from being the case)
  • our critical voice which is the culmination of negative voices from our past and present

Now I’m going to explore some ways to overcoming these blocks.

Trauma and adversity

If we experience trauma, adversity or both we can find it difficult to connect with many true parts of ourself, including creativity. A numbness can take hold and this part of us might think it is doing us a favour because it is protecting us, but actually it is stopping us from accomplishing our dreams.

This can be a very difficult thing to overcome and there isn’t a quick fix but I can give some ways to get started. Journalling can be a helpful way to get the ball rolling. It can be cathartic, help us to process things and if writing is an area of creativity you would like to embrace, actually using your experiences helps you get pen to paper. You can write short stories or poems about what has happened to you. Writing metaphorically rather than literally might be helpful because we may not want to recount actual traumatic events. So, for instance, if the loss of a loved one felt like a snail shedding its’ shell, write about that. Writing about our emotions in poetry or prose can also be helpful.

If art is more you thing perhaps you could draw or paint your emotions. What do they look like? What do they represent? A lot of the best creative stuff comes from pain and difficulty. You only have to look at Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream to realise this.

It is really important, not just for creativity, but for life in general to be in touch with your intuition and this is something that may have been disturbed through trauma or adversity. Ideally, it is a good idea to access counselling or psychotherapy if you are feeling the repercussions of trauma. However, if this is not possible, try and tune in with yourself and your body every day to see how you feel about things. Stay with your breath and make sure that you pay attention to the small decisions and then the big ones will follow (eg. do I really want the cheese roll or am I just having it because everyone else is?!) Slowly getting back in touch with our intuition can help us to be more creative.

Messages from family, society and media

In my recent series of blogs on values I talked about the importance of checking in with our values and seeing if we have carried some with us that don’t fit with who we are. Families might have passed values on to us and we may never have questioned them (this is normal by the way). For instance, our family may have valued power and financial solvency and told us that to achieve this we shouldn’t pursue anything creative in life. It may be worth looking at these kind of assertions to see if they are true to us.

With regards to media, it can be helpful to take a break from it and perhaps that will help you to see how you really feel about things. Or perhaps you could question the kind of media you follow to give you some different perspectives on what is important. Again, you may have inherited habits that are not aligned with who you really are.

Remember that it is important to take your own path and that you have things to say within you that are important. We are not all made the same and it is important to acknowledge this.

That critical voice

You may have a critical voice that whines or barks at you whenever you try and do anything creative. Perhaps it tells you that what you are doing isn’t any good or that it is pointless. As I mentioned in my previous blog, believe it or not the critical voice thinks that it is helping. It thinks that it needs to keep us small or to stop us from making mistakes. Of course, if there was ever anything useful about this, the sell-by date has probably passed. It may sound counter-intuitive but it is important to be compassionate to this critical voice. It comes from a place of pain so if we are angry with it, it will whine and bark even more and being too hard on ourselves never helps anyway. You could sit your critical voice down and have a chat with it. Perhaps you can write a screenplay from it! Or you could paint or draw your critical voice. What does it look like? What colour is it? Does it remind you of a villain from one of your favourite childhood stories? Getting to know the critical voice will help because it becomes less scary and being kinder to it (but not letting it rule the roost) will help it to be calmer.

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