One of the perennial issues that comes up for a lot of us with big goals (whether they’re in meditation, fitness, intuition development, creativity, etc.) is that sometimes we can struggle against the pace at which we are developing.
This can come up in almost every area of life, but let’s limit our conversation to creativity just for the sake of conversation. I’m a writer, so applying patience to the areas in my creativity where I’m still developing is important. For instance, prose poetry has always come naturally for me. Short story, not so much. And sometimes it’s just hard to stomach when something isn’t coming to us effortlessly in our creative work. Or is that just me?
You may be wondering why being patient with yourself in your creative growth would be so important. Isn’t being driven and tenacious one of the keys to success? That’s the thing. A lot of us think so, but that unrelenting drive can actually shut us down too. Here’s why…
Our deepest unfolding happens when we are relaxed and open.
And that’s the main thing I wanted to say today, because it’s true in art. And it’s doubly true in meditation/intuition development, I’m finding. I’m guessing this concept can be applied ACROSS THE BOARD.
This is why Allen Ginsberg told other writers that in order for them to find their voices, they had to forget about it ever being heard. Applying the mindset that you’re creating or writing just for you can be so freeing and relaxing. It strips away the need to perform for others (your inner critic, your family, partner, friends, the world, etc) and it allows you to simply play and explore.
That spirit of play and authentic exploration is what leads us to good writing or creative works. I think the word “authentic” here is so important, because it means being true to yourself, your perspective and your intellectual interests. Let your unique curiosity light the way. That’s how you achieve authentic voice, creative flow and ease in your art.
So, on one level, you want to be writing/creating like it’s just for you. Like you’re the only one that will be observing the outcome. Enjoy how that strips away your ego and your self-consciousness and gives you a lot of extra flow.
But just as important, get clear on what is behind your drive to achieve something creatively. This might lead you to some pretty deep personal work. It certainly did for me. And writers are notorious for having all sorts of neuroses, but usually we’re good and riddled with the “inner critic.”
De-program your inner-critic
What programming early in life did you receive that said you had to be good at what you did? Was there anyone who needed you to be skillful and successful at what you did as a child rather than just happy and enjoying the process? Take a look that. It might hurt a bit to face that voice. And here’s why: it represents a form of conditional love. The kind of love and acceptance that depended on our performance. This is generally the only kind of love a wounded parent can offer, and it’s so so common. But it’s our job to get in there and do the work and re-write our definitions of worthiness and success.
Good news: making contact with the inner-critic is an opportunity for us to enter into deeper states of self-love and self-acceptance.
Here’s how the critic can manifest in our thoughts and creative process. Often we’ve internalized a critical parent or relative and as adults continue to give voice to their history of judgement or harsh punishment or even impossible demands through our core beliefs of “If I’m not a great writer/artist/mystic/professional/astrophysicist, I shouldn’t be trying at all” or “I’m not passing in life if I’m not excellent at this path I’ve chosen.” You get the idea. These are negative, unloving core beliefs that we need to rewire as adults. How about…
“Doing my art is a daily practice.” Or “My definition of creative success is uncovering who I authentically am.”
So, to recap: 1. Do your thing like it’s just for you. I bet you you’ll love the process SO MUCH MORE. and 2. Uncover any harsh core beliefs or inner critics in there that say your creativity has to be ON THE LEVEL for it to be worthy of your time. It’s not helping you be a better artist, I promise. It’s constricting psychically and will diminish your enjoyment, which in the end will weaken your practice.
Be patient with yourself. In your art and in all those places where you may have goals for yourself. Goals help us stay focused and make progress, but be careful not to let them overshadow your joy and watch out that they’re not coming from a place of lack within yourself.
You see, our creative life is fertile ground for our personal work if we’re willing to look closely enough. Stay watchful. Where are your creative blocks? I bet they’re directly related to ways in which you need to practice greater self-acceptance. They were for me.
Be well and happy creating.