February’s topic could be triggering for some of us. It’s TRUST and CREATIVITY. These are big words and can be interpreted in all sorts of ways. We had already a quick look at TRUST during January. However, there’s always room for a deeper understanding. This may get a little spiritual here, I hope you don’t mind. A friend of mine told me just yesterday that these days, more and more people are interested in spirituality without the attachment of organised religion. Maybe there’s something in this statement. Nevertheless, diving deeper into the miracle of life is fascinating whether its spiritual or not.
Let’s start with CREATIVITY. I know a lot of people that would straight away declare that they are not creative. Wait a minute, let’s first explore what creativity means.
the ability to produce original and unusual ideas, or to make something new or imaginative– Definition of creativity from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press
Too many people associate creativity only with arts and believe that only artists are creative. However, when we look at the definition above from the Cambridge Dictionary, it broadens that understanding to much more. I believe humans are innately creative. From an evolutionary perspective we needed to be. Otherwise we wouldn’t have survived. Phew, now that’s that out of the way, we can explore creativity even further.
Beliefs around creativity
Let’s come back to the belief that we are somehow lacking in creativity. When I was younger, mainly in my early twenties, I believed that I was not creative. The main reason that I can identify now looking back (it’s always easier 🙄) is the fact that I compared myself to others. Of course, there were some amazingly creative people among my friends, and I was so starstruck that I could only see them and their expression of creativity. And instead of fostering my own creativity I shut it down and only admired other people.
This very reaction, shutting down creativity, is problematic and yet many people do it. When we are in the process of shutting down something that is part of us (could be feelings as well – just saying), we are cutting ourselves off the energy of life. So, instead of living life to the fullest we make do with a little trickle and wonder why we are struggling.
Career or Business
Before you dismiss my claim, let’s work out how much this shutdown influences every aspect of our lives. It’s pretty obvious, when we look at career or business. If we don’t believe that we are creative, we will miss out on opportunities to advance our careers or business endeavours. In fact, every business needs creative people in it no matter if they are employees or the boss. Businesses that fail to foster creativity will go under.
An example that comes to my mind is Kodak. If you are old enough to remember the times before digital photography, you’ll remember Kodak (otherwise google it). They were one of the leading companies in film for photography. However, contrary to most businesses, Kodak did not strive for innovation, despite having a brilliantly creative employee who invented the first digital camera in the – wait for it – 1970s. Instead Kodak insisted on making the products that had always worked for them, analogue photography, until it didn’t work for them anymore and they filed for bankruptsy.
This is an extreme example, and I hope it won’t go that badly for your career or business, but you’ll get the idea. It’s a classic case of shutting down creativity. If this is happening in your work environment or even within yourself, consider changing things up. One typical phrase to watch out for is: ‘We’ve always done it like this’ or any variation of this sentiment. There’s resistance to change and to opening the channels of creative energy.
What about relationships?
Whether we’re talking about family, intimate relationships or friendships, we all know the feeling when relationships get stale. It’s not a nice feeling. It usually happens when things remain the same at all cost. The costs are high. Worst case scenario would be separation and divorce with all the negative consequences for everyone involved.
I remember as a kid, when my parents – in my view of course 😉 – were uninspiringly stuck in their ways, I used to get frustrated with them, wanting them to try something new. Surely, in the beginning of their relationship, my parents were much more into trying new things. However, over time, with all the big and small worries in their lives, they suppressed a lot of their creativity and joy.
My mum used to tell me that I had too much imagination. Hearing this as a kid, I could tell, it was something that could be dangerous and should be avoided. Luckily my grandmother was a lot more adventurous although not that mobile and her presence offered a small window of creative spirit. I loved listening to her stories sitting at her feet and playing creatively with her button collection.
Intimate relationships usually start out in a very creative way. Being in love opens our creative channels and we bathe in this energy. There’s no shortage of ideas for dates, little gifts, and sweet things to say. After a while though, many relationships decline. Things are getting familiar, almost to being predictable. It requires an effort to come up with those creative ideas in long-term relationships. Taking our partners for granted and falling back into our own selfish ways won’t help either.
However, if we don’t shut our creativity down, it’s going to be a lot easier and less of an effort to keep things fresh between lovers. It’s very easy to neglect friendships with our hectic lifestyles. We are so distracted, and we rush everywhere that we don’t even make the time for our friends, let alone pour some creative energy into our friendships. In my experience, our best friends are very forgiving and often it’s the same connection after a long absence. Whilst this is a soothing thought, it pays to nurture friendships so that they remain strong in the future.
Creativity for recreational activities
Some people still have hobbies which exclude watching TV. It’s true, they are doing crafts, arts, photography, music etc. Most people would agree that there’s some creativity involved. But then there’s also sport. If you are playing a team sport, you cannot play well without creativity. Each game is different, and each opposing team is different. You will need to come up with new ideas literally on the fly. So, all of this is creativity in action, and it’s certainly an easy area to allow this creative energy to flow.
So, what if you gave up your hobbies and team sport years ago? First, it’s not essential to have a classic hobby or play sports. It could be that you love walking in nature or – like me on the beach. Nothing wrong with that, I believe that being in nature helps with our energy levels in general and creativity in particular. When we are relaxed, we have more ideas. Many people have their best ideas in the shower.
When our mind is relaxed the creative energy can flow
Second, check whether there’s a long-forgotten hobby or activity that you would like to do again but haven’t even looked at for ages. Third, check how much time you spend on TV or are still at your work computer after dinner. Once you’ve got both answers, you could cut the TV or working after dinner time in favour to reactivate an old hobby or start on a new creative activity. Creativity needs practice just like anything else in life.
Hopefully by now, you can tell that we need creative energy in our lives and how important it is to foster a trickle into a full blast stream of creativity. So, why are some people seemingly hyper creative and others struggle? Good question 😉
I think one aspect stands out thinking about the typical creative person. Let’s look at Van Gogh for example. He was certainly highly creative and an amazing artist, but he didn’t quite fit into the society of his time. Yes, it’s often the so-called misfits that have creativity galore. And they often struggle with day-to-day life.
If you are not in the Van Gogh category (if you are, I’m sure you wouldn’t read this), it could be that fitting into society and doing what we are supposed to do, is a strong motivator. It’s the old realist against creative dualism. Do we need to fully buy into what society prescribes for us? Maybe there’s some middle ground. Can we thrive within the constraints of society’s boundaries? Can we include creativity into the mix of working, looking after the kids, caring for our parents, and paying the mortgage or rent?
Is there a Goldie Locks way?
If we can strike a balance of the things on our to-do list and a big dose of creative energy, we would be off to a good start. I believe, this is the way forward. If you have read one of my other blog posts, you would have stumbled across my argument that we are living in the age of individualism. Never before in history have we had the amount of personal freedom than today. Yes, we are still under certain restraints and most of us prefer to live in a home and have our children receive a good education, but overall, we have certainly more room to be how we would like to be.
However, if we allow stress to take over our entire lives and we’re always on the back foot trying desperately to catch up with every requirement our modern lifestyle throws at us, then we will be in constant fight mode. I admit it, I used to struggle with this a lot. Exactly how I described it earlier. I didn’t believe that I was creative. I had internalised that there was something undesirable about it. When my mum used to exclaim that I had too much imagination, I tried to tone it down, suppress it, stuff it down.
That didn’t do me any good. I spend many years in an internal tug-of-war. A part of me wanted to be creative and the other part was afraid that it was unacceptable. I had to learn how to allow the creative energy to come. I had to learn how to foster this precious energy. It wasn’t easy since I also had ‘real life’ responsibilities. After a while of practicing creative flow though, I could tell that my family was more relaxed around me, and I’m sure this happened because I was happier. I didn’t use my energy to suppress something that is natural to us.
Practice creative flow
The very tools that I used to free myself from the internal struggle, I offer to my clients who also succeed in letting go of internalised ‘stuff’. I often say to my clients, if I could do it, anyone can. And it’s true, some people do it so easily and others (that would include me 🙋♀️) need a little more support. There’s nothing bad about this. It’s our journey. The most important thing to remember is, that we can all do it, and Goldie Locks is onto something.