First of all, nothing can ‘take away’ your creativity.
It may just be hiding, protecting itself. That’s because creativity requires vulnerability. Vulnerability may not be possible under stressful circumstances, like being with family at holiday time.
Hopefully, you have some chosen family that you can let it all hang out with. There’s a good chance if you’re reading this, you also have people and circumstances in your life that are, shall we say, creatively inconvenient. This does NOT mean, however, that you then become a victim of those circumstances.
If we are lucky, we have control over two things in our life: our actions and our attitude. That is all. (If we are less lucky, we have control over just one….our attitude.) Out of love or duty, at times we may find ourselves making choices that put us in less than ideal situations when it comes to our creative endeavors. So when we do, what actions can we take to enter a creative headspace?
If you are stressed or feeling oppressed by the company of others or the habitat in which you are ensconced, separation is key. Physical separation, for any period of time, is highly valuable when it comes to accessing the safe internal space we need in which to feel into and manifest our creative ideas.
I am not talking about holing up in your room to avoid others. That is isolation. Actually, you don’t need a room for that…you can feel isolated within a crowd. What I am recommending is conscious solitude. So first things first…take a walk. Get outside…by yourself.
Let your feet take you wherever they want to go. Don’t decide or try to figure it out. Just walk. Driving is okay too, but if you find yourself marooned out in the boonies with relatives and you don’t have a car, just bundle up and go. It doesn’t matter where. Pace the backyard for all I care.
Most likely you’ll have your phone with you. Keep focused on the immediate surroundings. Chances are, you’ll start to see things around you, poignant images. Start to capture those, like this:
As you stroll and gather these images, Let your mind wander, but don’t let it ruminate! Whenever you find your mind ‘hijacked’ by an unpleasant re-imagining of a dressing-down or humiliation, Take a sharp inhale and fix your senses on your immediate surroundings. Stay present. If your mind finds its way to some project or other, great! Don’t force this, but be grateful and let yourself become immersed if it happens. Chances are your brain will start taking dictation from the muses….and when your feet decide you’re ready, bring yourself on home to wherever that is for the night. Avoid engaging with others right away if you can, and go someplace private as soon as possible to pour your ideas out into a journal, computer document, or sketch pad, depending on your medium.
‘But I can’t even get away to take a walk!’ you say. No matter. There are many microcosms of the world. The bathroom for instance. Run some water on your hands. Smell the soap. Pay intricate attention to the patterns in the tile. An amazing cobweb or crack may catch your eye…Take a bath and appreciate the sensuality of that….notice something new about your body….And yes…you can have your phone with you to take pictures even in there (just don’t drop it in the tub). Of course, mental snapshots will also suffice.
Good for you. You have reclaimed your creativity. This is cause for internal celebration. Give yourself a high-five!
Remember that mastering the skill of creative agency under any circumstance takes time and intention. Whenever you get a chance, I recommend picking up a copy of Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and giving it a read.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
— VIKTOR FRANKL, MD, PHD