Hello, Creatives! The Summer has truly swept me away in the best possible way- the warm air, butterflies and lightening bugs, soft breezes, sounds of cicadas and frogs, and bright sun green through the filter of leafy trees have taken every moment I can spare- but it does feel good to take a moment to sit and write to you again. I am both excited about today’s topic and inspired by the sensory experiences of Summer- today we will discuss sensory sensitivity in Creative People (say that five times fast!)
Like many of the gifts that our creative personalities give us, this, too, is a gift with two faces. We have explored in blog posts past (or if you have been on the Creatively couches, in the workshops, or in the groups) ad nauseam about the Creative Person’s expanded emotional capacity. The new information: with expanded emotional capacity comes an expanded sensory capacity. These two things together are what allow you to tap into and translate your experiences into your art form. Usually your senses are especially sensitive in the same lane as your preferred artistic expression: dancers are kinetically and tactile-ly more sensitive, musicians auditorily more sensitive, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, painters are visually more sensitive, chefs and culinary artists may be more sensitive to tastes and smells and so on. While specifically more sensitive in a specific area, you are in fact more sensitive in all 5 senses overall as a creative person, generally speaking. This is logical because this is where our emotional experiences also occur- in the body. We experience and sense the world around us very strongly therefore our real-time input channels are powerful.
This means a couple of things for you, Creative. It means that you need to feed these channels in order to stay well. It means you need to be refueling your sensory channels often because your fuel tanks for these are necessarily bigger because your input levels are stronger, so your responsibility to keep those tanks full requires more regular work and attention (read: regular mindfulness practices and regular creative practices!!) It also means that when you are sensorily deprived, you will not feel well and you will notice. You will feel depressed, disconnected, low energy, like you aren’t experiencing life, poor self esteem, blocked from your creativity, and generally not like yourself (read: regular mindfulness practices and regular creative practices!!) The final thing it might mean is irritability. Let me explain:
Do you ever notice it is really difficult for you to get pulled away from a task, project, experience or moment? This can be pathologized as something else, and maybe in your life it was. Imagine a person without what we are calling a creative personality, someone with normal levels of creativity (after all, all people are creative) looking at a beach scene. Imagine them connected to their experience by 2 hooks. The hooks represent how much attention is invested by absorbing the scene. Someone calls out to them for their attention, and it is fairly easy for them to disconnect from their experience. The same situation repeats for a creative person, except imagine this person is connected to their experience by 12 hooks. This is much more difficult for them to disconnect from. It requires more effort and strain and can generate irritability which might even be misdirected at the person calling to them.
Let’s imagine this same situation again, except now instead of hooks the creative person is holding a bucket, which is already full of water. The person without a creative personality is in the same situation with a bucket half full of water. The bucket of water represents how saturated the person is sensorily in their experience of the scene. Now imagine a lifeguard drives by on a loud ATV right in front of the scene. This adds 4 cups of water to each bucket. Non-creative personality’s bucket can withstand the volume. Creative person’s bucket overflows, again creating irritability. When you are more sensorily connected to your experiences as a creative person, added sensory information can more easily overwhelm and irritate you than a less creative person.
So I said we would bring this back to mindfulness. After all, isn’t that what we are saying by default, that a creative person should also have an increased capacity for mindfulness tools? To be present? Ultimately, mindfulness is the perfect natural tool to harness this gift of increased sensory sensitivity to our experiences, whether they are outside of us in the world, or inside of us in our feelings and reactions to the world. Mindfulness helps us with the element of choice when processing and receiving this information.
Intrigued in learning more and jumpstarting your own creativity and mindfulness program? I am here to help you learn how.
(c) 2019 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.