What Stops our Creativity?
We are infinitely creative beings.
We are creating the experience of our reality in every moment.
We are storytelling machines.
Did you know that if we put four random words next to each other, our brains will automatically create a story out of it? Let's try it:
Firetruck. Tree. Cat. Ladder.
What did your brain do? Did you make it a story? It's almost impossible not to.
If we are innately creative beings, then why do some of us feel un-creative, or un-talented in a certain area like writing, art, music, or dance?
I believe that one of two things can happen as a child, or maybe later in life, that can completely stunt our creativity as adults:
1) You were told that you were not good at something. This could have been in the unfortunate incident of someone directly saying something negative to you. More likely, this was perceived indirectly through nonverbal communication or through comparison of other people that you were not skilled at something. For example, a teacher suggested you should play the cowbell instead of playing the drum, which is what you really wanted. Or, your classmate got all of the attention for her perfectly detailed drawing of an oak tree which inherently meant that your whimsical rendition of a purple family living in a mushroom was unacceptable. This translated into being not as good, or no good at all, at drawing.
2) You were told that you were good at something. This one is a little more surprising, but just as, if not, more traumatic to your young ego than being told you're not good at something. If a young person is told that they are a naturally gifted singer or athlete, what can happen (not always) is that they develop a fixed mindset around it.
Someone with a fixed mindset may think, "I AM a great singer", as opposed to someone with a growth mindset who may think, "I'm working on being a great singer". The person with a fixed mindset tends not to work or practice as hard at the skill because they assume it comes naturally. Also, their identity can become wrapped up in being good at that thing. Then, when they are not good at that thing, they feel like a total failure, and eventually don't even practice or pursue the talent anymore.
If you're interested in this topic, read the amazing book, "Mindset" by Carol Dweck.
For me and writing, I was a victim of the latter. It's not like I was famous for being a good writer as a kid, but I received some positive attention from kind and well-meaning adults. Writing came easily to me. I was consistently able to squeak out a good grade on a test with the essay portion, even if I didn't do so well on the rest of it.
If it sounds like I'm complaining or blaming positive attention for my block in creativity, I'm not. I take full responsibility for how I attached to the positive feedback. For me, I made "being a good writer" into a much bigger deal than I needed to and attached my identity to it.
I turned writing into a unicorn. The magical, mythical thing that would bring me happiness, joy, and contentment. And, let's face it, would make me famous.
As a result, I was hyper-critical of everything I wrote and barely showed my writing to anyone because my fear of rejection or criticism was so intense. Because my ego was all wrapped up in the identity of being a good writer, it felt like if I was a bad writer, that meant I was a bad person. Or worse, who was I at all if I was a bad writer?
The fear of failure and the fear of success became immense, dark dragons that I continued to run away from for many years.
The thing about chasing unicorns or fearing dragons, is that they are both mythical, made-up, fictional. I'm sorry if I'm the first to tell you. Both unicorns and dragons are made up entirely of thought. They can seem so solid and real, but are composed entirely of smoke and ether.
This relentless pursuit of unicorns or avoidance of dragons blocks our view of the innate and infinite creative potential that is all around us.
Looking for creativity outside of us or thinking that we have to work really hard at it is counter to our design. It's as if we are sitting in the middle of a hot, bubble bath and asking for a shower to get clean.
The trick is to see past the unicorns and dragons. Recognize them simply as thoughts that are getting in the way of seeing our truth.
We are innately creative sitting in a pool of infinite ideas, expressions, and story.
Drop what you know. Enjoy the pure magic and pursuit of tapping into your limitless creative potential.