If you don’t know by now, there are many benefits to incorporating creativity into your daily life. It is a healing modality. Art therapy is a real thing. Creativity and mindfulness go hand in hand. Using your creative brain gets you out of left-brain thinking and can send you into a meditative place.
I see it all the time: women who do not identify as artists, who do not currently have a creative practice, will take a workshop with me, or participate in one of my creativity challenges, or sit down to create/make art with their kids, and at the end of the session, the remarks are always the same:
“Why don’t I do this more often?” or “Wow, I forgot how much I loved to paint/color/collage, etc.” or “This is so calming!”
Many times, this will prompt the women to remember a time in their lives from their formative years, when they recall how much they loved to create.
I’ll hear women recount, in great detail, a very specific experience, and in telling me their story, it triggers an either/or reaction in them. Their memory brings them back to a place of joy and happiness, or, oppositely, sadness and disappointment. They will either light up, or feel utter shame, because this experience affected them so deeply.
They remember how they used to crochet with their grandmother, or pretend they were an artist when they were young. They used to watch Bob Ross on television and try to replicate his work on their own. They used to love making pottery in high school. They doodled and drew in notebooks all the time during class.
They also remember the time when their art wasn’t selected for the elementary school art show. They had a high school art teacher who told them they lacked the talent for shading or realistic drawing. Their parents didn’t understand how art could be a major in college. The list of experiences goes on and on.
The reasons these experiences can mean utter bliss, or utter disappointment, is because we internalize our creativity SO much more than we care to admit.
If we are creative as a child, and that creativity is nurtured, it can set us down a path of believing in our skills, knowing we are appreciated for our self-expression, and valuing our talents. We identify as having something special to share with others, and are eager to share our creations with the world.
When we experience the opposite outcome, are criticized for our art, or are made to feel like we lack the required talent to produce something worthy or beautiful, a part of us immediately shuts down and we no longer feel safe to share this part of our soul.
Unfortunately, if you ask any adult, the majority have experienced these shutting down experiences more than they’ve experienced nurturing ones.
Women, especially, will have some recollection of an artistic failure that caused them to give up on art, painting, writing, sewing, or creating, in order to pursue a more worthwhile endeavor. Add in the societal pressures of finding a partner, raising a family, excelling at a career, and it’s clear how the creative parts of most women become an afterthought. These pieces get lost and tossed aside, as more responsibility, expectations, or pressure is placed upon them.
Because of these experiences, it’s no wonder that creativity is not something we place a priority on in our adult life. The ego remembers - “The last time I tried to be creative, it didn’t go well, so I won’t even try.” The negative self-talk continues, “I’m not artistic. I’m not creative. I don’t know where to even start.”
And the busy-ness of life reinforces it. “There’s no time. It’s not important. I can’t do it.”
It is my hope that by examining these past experiences, we can come to see how inaccurately we view creativity in our lives. We have the ability and the right to reclaim our creative expressive and it’s so important that we do so.
Using our creativity makes us feel whole. It opens up parts of ourselves that are waiting to be expressed. It is a necessary part of us, that as humans, we need to tap into.
Creativity is a lifeline that gets us through stressful situations. It can bring joy in our lives as we process grief, disappointment, change, loss, and transition. It gives us a way to process ideas, emotions, thoughts, and feelings that we are unable to fully express with words.
And it’s available to you. All you have to do is be brave enough to use it.