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
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
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is a Creativity Coach, Creativity Counselor and Professional Artist in Sykesville, Maryland. She provides Online Creativity Counseling in Maryland and Virginia, and Online Creativity Coaching throughout the USA, Canada and the UK.
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.