Many of us don’t make time for creativity or worse, fear it entirely. One of the most rewarding aspects of coaching is helping people unlock their full potential. Could it be we think prioritizing creativity is frivolous or that we may be carrying shame wounds from an event from our childhood with respect to a creative self-expression? Society clearly places more emphasis on financial success, roles, responsibilities, and careers than self-expression. This often results in decisions which park the creative for another time: when we retire, when our kids are grown up and don’t need us anymore, etc.
In a captivating interview between Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) and Brene Brown (renowned author and research professor on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame) called “Big Strong Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear ”, Brene shares her journey discovering her creativity and how it transformed her life, work, relationship to herself and with others and, ultimately her contribution to the world. Brene describes how she moved away from being a “creative martyr” where creativity emerges through suffering and isolation, to a “creative trickster which is when one learns that the creative process should be fun, energizing, and inspire can community.
In the past, had Brene been asked to talk about her views on creativity, she would have responded with, “I don’t have time for ART because I have a JOB.” Now however, her newfound perspective is that “the only unique contribution we will make in this world will be born out of creativity…we are all creative, some of us are just not using it.” Is there a creative force within you longing to burst free?
Creativity is an expression of your authentic self. Without this self-expression, each of us is dying a little bit at a time. Brene discovered that 85% of people had shame around an event in their lives and that 50% of those people had shame wounds specifically around creativity. Brene asserts that the antidote to shame is self-compassion and empathy. We must shift in our thinking and social valuing of the arts and artists who enrich our lives with music, beauty, and thoughtful entertainment. Our happiness depends on it!
My Shame Wounds
When I dug deeper and thought about my shame wounds, and where I held back my creative expression I realized that in my early childhood I placed limitations on myself and I rarely felt secure breaking beyond those artificial boundaries. I am an identical twin and, as a youth, labeled myself as the sensible, non-artistic/creative sister, especially because my twin was pursuing and expressing her artistic talents freely. I chose the business route and studied commerce, while my twin studied interior design. I have felt intimidated my entire life to pick up a paint brush or to draw. Could this fear be tackled after all this time? Was there a benefit to doing so?
Only recently, through the encouragement of those closest to me, did I begin expressing my creativity. I began to notice how I engage in creativity through home decorating, wardrobe choices, cooking, and the care I take in presenting meals to family and friends. This was a real revelation to me; I realized if I wasn’t able to share this part of myself, it would be as if this part of me was dead. I also realized the joy and freedom I felt when I invited my entire self to participate in the idea of who I am and what I am capable of.
I’ve registered for a yoga/art retreat this May and I noticed I was having an aversion to the “art” component of the weekend. Upon closer inspection I found I was nervous about failing or not being good enough.
Failure & Creativity
This had me reflect on the conversation between Elizabeth and Brene about failure and its relationship to creativity. They asked, “what if we started asking ourselves what is worth doing even if we fail? And what do we love to do so much that we don’t care if we fail?” It helped me realize that this upcoming weekend can help me heal my shame wounds around art. More importantly – who says what I produce will be a failure? Can any art be a failure? No! As Elizabeth espouses, “it’s usually our own voices in our head that are our worst critics… and the thing we are most afraid of has already happened.”
Creativity is more about who we are and not what we do. What if as a society we placed more value on who we are versus what we do? Imagine if each of us were able to share more of our souls with each other, what would that be like for us individually as well as collectively?
Tapping into Your Own Creativity
Start by broadening your definition of creativity. Creativity is anything that allows your soul to express itself. For some it could be through carpentry, architecture design, multimedia, fashion, home design, drawing, painting, cooking, performance art, etc.
For me, I realized that my creativity has come in a variety of forms:
- As an instructional designer, I was very creative in how I approached the design of training programs – definitely having fun with finding creative ways for students to learn.
- In my wardrobe choices
- In my cooking and presentation of food
- In my writing. Writing blogs is a new-found creative outlet in which I tap into a whole other part of myself. It’s definitely where I share my authentic and give voice to my soul.
- Colouring books have been another great source of creative expression. Especially since I had labeled myself as “non-creative.” Having the parameters of the picture already created allowed me to be playful ; I noticed as I completed several pictures, I became more daring with the way I approached my colouring.
Have a go at allowing your creativity to evolve without judgement or expectations and have fun!
As a coach, I hope to continue helping people discover their unique creative gifts, to bring their authentic self-expression and souls to the forefront through creativity and to root out limiting self-beliefs that no longer serve us.
“You are born a maker; we need what you can bring to us because you are the only one who can bring it,” Brene Brown
Andrea Shalinsky is a Performance and Life Coach who is passionate about helping others find meaning and purpose in their lives. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-313-9132.