You’ve Done Enough Coping
This is the antithetical post where your therapist tells you to stop coping with things. Today I want to reflect upon a clinical observation I have made in practice over the years, as well as in the world around me. I want to debunk some of the most popular psychological advice and offer my own based on my own clinical readings, learning and experience. I do, of course, caveat this with- if it doesn’t feel right or healthy for you, don’t follow it- and- consult your therapist about it before making any radical changes to your behavior. That said:
I want you to stop coping. I will say it again: Stop. Coping. Stop distracting yourself from your problems, numbing yourself to your pain, filling up emptiness with things. Creatives, these things are not meant to be permanent solutions to your problems! They are, at best, temporary survival mechanisms that do not (I repeat NOT) serve you well in the long term. If you want to heal, and you are truly ready and able to do the work, it is time to feel the feelings you are protecting yourself from. There is no other way to move forward.
I want to acknowledge that it is not always the right time to do this, and coping mechanisms are survival skills when life comes at us too hard, too fast and too harsh to deal with. They are good for that for awhile. Sometimes you can cordon off some of your pain to coping skills and take out smaller things to feel and deal with- and this is an important accompanying skill (read: emotional boundaries!) and so we see evolutionarily coping skills and protective mechanisms have an important function- but they by definition are preventing you from dealing with your emotional baggage, which, by definition is weighing you down. So: stop. With. The. Coping.
The reality is this will mean pain for you. The reality is, this will mean struggling. But that is life! Life is struggle and survival and emotional ups and downs. They give us perspective, meaning and allow us to grow. As long as we continue to protect ourselves from it, we are staying stagnant and not allowing ourselves to come into living our fullest, best lives.
And that’s it for today, Creative! Another parsimonious nugget to let roll around in your brain. Assuming you accept this idea with me, the logical next step is: “how do I do the work?” Luckily for you, you know a therapist! Let’s talk about some strategies for you in session.
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Creatives, I toyed for awhile with several topics for today- and decided upon another snapshot of your amazing creative personality. It’s gonna be a short one today but what we may lose in length we will make up for in potency and relevance today, I hope. So, here it is:
Have you ever been called independent, adventurous or even oppositional? You may not be surprised to find out that “going your own way” is another fundamental part of your creative personality.
Logically, this makes sense: creative people have to be bold, brazen and independent enough to go against the grain, innovate and create something new. It takes questioning everything, going against the current and daring to be different. It also makes us stubborn, beholden to none, afraid of commitment and crappy with dates/times/deadlines/absolutes.
Sound like you? You like to flow with your feelings- go when you want to, stop when you are ready. You are spontaneous. You may also find that events scheduled on your calendar loom and may actually have a feeling of dread and heaviness associated with them. Rules even in the form of deadlines and appointment times to be places can feel confining, restricting and interfere with your ability to respond to your flow.
Unfortunately, Creative, there is no cure for what ails you. Your best bet is to face your struggle like you do everything in life- with passion. Embrace this quality- its enthusiasm, its curiosity and capacity to absorb and feel the world around you. You may be able to reduce deadlines and scheduling in your life and be more spontaneous, or you may not. Either way you have what it takes to do things according to your own schedule, or rise to the occasion when expectations are set out for you by others (even if you may not relish it the same).
There are tricks I can teach you to dread less, schedule better, set goals more and be both regimented and organic in the way you live.
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Hello, Creatives! Finally, some warm weather with the promise of Spring in Maryland. I hope you are getting outside and feeling inspired (remember the “Getting Inspired with Mindfulness” post? Worth a re-read). This week, I want to help you capitalize on the powerful impact nature and weather has on us and our creative process.
Remember, Creative, you are sensitive, and you are sensory. You have strong emotional reactions to many things, and are very impacted by information coming in to your sensory system (sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes). Change is very powerful because during a time of change our senses are very heightened to absorption (think jumping in a cold pool on a hot day- those first few seconds are potent!) All totaled, you have a powerful stream of energy to tap into during a seasonal change. And- the best, most mindful way to capitalize on this energy, is to go get in it- get outside!
I want you to physically put yourself into this energy stream and take what nature is offering you- like the plants stretching and unrolling their leaves into the warm sunlight after a long winter- absorb the energy and refill your stores. Biologically it is needed and healthy, emotionally it is restorative and creatively it is regenerative. This is so powerful!
Here are some ideas that might help you in your efforts:
And finally, of course, come to counseling! Let me support you moving forward and creating your best life. You are worth it. The life you will live when you do the work is worth it. Natural periods of potent energy like this are an ideal time to start working changes in your life, and I’m here to help!
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Hello Creatives! This week, in honor of the expansion of two of my Creatively workshops to the Columbia Art Center this Summer, I am giving you a sneak-peak of what you can look forward to if you attend the “Getting Unstuck” workshop (which is available now at Root Studio!)
At this workshop you can expect to meet some amazing local talent, and in the beginning of our time together we all swap information about our work, current projects, and where we may feel stuck and/or need a boost of creative energy. The goal of the workshop is to get a push into the flow-y, energized space where we are ready to resume our work.
Once we have all met, we will review some information that you may have already explored in previous blog topics. The thing about being “stuck” is, there are many reasons, explanations and sources of the stuck-ness. To do our best detective work, we need to review some of the context and information we already know about creative people. So we will discuss the following possible explanations for being stuck:
This is individualized; where are you stuck?
Diametrically opposed traits of productivity vs rest
Product vs process oriented
End of a phase
Need mindfulness/exit intellectualizing/conceptualizing
Next we will explore the following approaches to troubleshoot getting unstuck:
Meditation for mindfulness and being fully present to senses; tap into
body needs and inspiration
Cross-modality; goal to take of “product” focus and perfectionism
Regressing images, supplies, approaches; goal to “play”
Repetition; goal to nurture creative rests and reenergize flow
Look at other work; goal to get perspective and see if you are
Critique: hear from others feedback, identify where your needs are, if you
need to change direction, if you need to pursue or edit, give voice to help
Feeling “stuck” is very specific to you, and unfortunately in one workshop we cannot try many of the things that may help you- but there is one specific practice that we will dabble in: that is the process of cross-modality. I will have each participant engage in a project similar to what they currently feel stuck on. I will then introduce you to two alternative modalities that are not your standard and probably not your strength. I will lead you through using these to get unstuck by directing you to go back and forth from them to your original piece- taking bits of inspiration and energy along the way. It is here we spend the meat of our workshop. In addition to my feedback, I expect you to communicate with each other, also garnering a kind of “cross-creative-flow” to help you in your process.
At the end of every workshop we will have a critique. This is not an art critique you may be familiar with from art school, for example, as it is not product focused. We will take the time as a group to talk to and hear from each member about their experiences, their struggles, any “aha” moments, and give supportive feedback to each other. We use the important insight from others to reflect upon our own experiences and needs.
You can expect to leave with ideas, energy, started pieces, new techniques, new inspiration and enthusiasm to bring to your workspace. You will not leave with a masterpiece but you will leave with some small pieces to take the energy you have found from the workshop.
The workshop is 90 minutes in total. It is available currently at Root Studio (here) and soon to be at Columbia Art Center (more details to come!)
Feeling stuck? Ready to change that? Tired of reading things to try and ready to dive into some practices? This could be for you!
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.