Saturday, February 13, 2010

Restore your creativity

Do you consider yourself a creative person? Most of us were very creative as young children, but as we got older, we often lose touch with our ability to be creative..
If you watch very young children at play and exploring the world around them, you will notice that children are often endlessly creative.  A young child can probably think of twenty new uses for a cardboard box, while you probably don’t bother to think of more than two or three ways that same box can be used.

Children are often very willing to try new ways of doing something, to put together objects in ways that you would never think of.  Part of the reason for the great creativity shown by children is that they haven’t yet learned the official rules on how things must be and how things are supposed to be used.

Once we start to learn a lot of rules about how the world is supposed to work, many of us start fearing our creativity because we fear making a mistake.  We become afraid that others will laugh at us.

When we’re trying really hard to be creative and artistic, we fear that we won’t be good enough, that our work won’t compete with the Picassos and Shakespeares of the world. For many of us, that fear is enough to stop us from going any further into the world of creativity. 

As we grow older, many of us stop trying to be creative.  It becomes easier to join all the other people who are making their living in the nine to five world, and we squelch the dreams we once had of being a writer or a singer or a painter, because after all, no one else will ever know we had such dreams, no one but us.

If you have ever had a spark of original creativity, it is still possible to fan that spark and make it grow into a sizeable flame again.  Usually what stops most of us from being creative again as adults, is an inner fear, a fear of failing, of not living up to our own impossibly high standards.  What if I try and I fail? For some of us, this thought becomes terrifying, because we are measuring ourselves against an imaginary standard.

We can fear failure so much that we won’t even allow ourselves the necessary permission to become good at our chosen field by putting in the time to practise, to explore, to fail. 
To try something that turns out to be a failure does not mean that we are failures, or that we are useless. 
We forget, or perhaps we never learned, that failure is simply a form of feedback that tells us what works and what doesn’t. 
When we have shaky self esteeem, we may jump to the conclusion that any failure, or any possibility of failure, or any effort that does not result in a 200% success, means that we are flawed and horrible at the core.
I have seen many talented, creative, and intelligent people shrink back from their true passion because they had so much fear that they did not dare to move ahead and use their talent.
And I have also seen many people who possessed truly mediocre levels of talent but who had unshakeable confidence.  In some cases, these marginally talented people were able to succeed because they truly believed they were entitled to success in all that they did.

For all those people who are searching for the secret of how they can dare to be their true, creative selves, I wish that in one short article I could reveal the simple secret that would lead them to their heart’s desire.  There is no easy answer that will fit everyone.
Each person may find the answer in a different way.  If you are lucky enough to have true desire and true courage to face your fears, you will find a road to creativity eventually.

And if you don’t have enough desire, or enough courage, don’t despair, you can build these qualities into yourself, but it will take time and perseverance.
If you have had a history of being harsh with yourself every time you try to be creative, you must now make a solemn vow that you will support yourself in all your creative endeavors, no matter how they turn out. 
If you have had a habit of criticizing other artists, writers, actors or musicians who are successful, stop this habit at once!  This habit can destroy your own confidence in your ability and right to be creative.

Gather around yourself some talented and supportive people who can guide you and support you on your journey of exploration.   Take classes in your chosen field, read books, read the biographies of those artists you admire.  You will find that many of them went through periods of self doubt about their talent.

Celebrate the creative explorations of others, and celebrate your own.  Be playful again,  and rediscover your youthful love of creativity!

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