Burned out? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Generally blah?
All of those emotional states make it incredibly hard to be creative because your energy is tied up in trying to put out the five-alarm fire going on in your nervous system. The fix is simple in theory, and it will require a balance of effort and comfort to put it into action.
Creativity is one of those sassy little minxes who values freedom. She resents boundaries and structure. She thrives in open spaces where her energy is free to bounce around. She’s playful, so stress threatens her. She’s a lot like a cat - she just wants to do her own thing.
Why Your Creativity Is Shot
There are three personalities I’d like to talk to right now. . .and hopefully invite them to a new way of being with themselves.
If you’re highly creative but work a traditional schedule, living your life like it’s a checklist, your creativity (and probably your sex drive) is going to tank. If you haven’t built the resilience capacity to handle emotional ups and downs, you’ll struggle in this area. Many of us who have C-PTSD experience this as a total lack of energy to live a normal life.
If you’re a people pleaser who says yes when she means no, your creativity is going to suffer. Why? You’ll take on a series of demands that are impossible to sustain, but you’ll feel guilty for setting boundaries, so you’ll suffer until you hit your breaking point. In the meantime, you can kiss creativity goodbye. Blah.
If you’re a perfectionist with a harsh inner voice, your creativity will hide. Why? No one wants to be told they’re not good enough…and creativity is especially sensitive to criticism. So she’ll just pack up and slide under a rock until it’s safe to be seen.
How to Recover Your Creativity
If you have one of these three personalties (maybe you’ve got parts of all 3), the fix is to create space, set boundaries, and be kind with yourself. Who couldn’t use a little more of that?
Creating space could mean putting the down time in your calendar. Add it to your checklist. Find a place to put in white space…instead of watching TV, take 15 minutes to meditate; instead of making dinner, get a meal delivery service once a week; instead of doing your own grocery shopping, get Shipt or Instacart to deliver your groceries. Find a way to give yourself the gift of 15-60 minutes of blank space each day. Creativity will find its way into the opening. She always does.
Setting boundaries is really hard for some people. Say no to additional responsibilities. By the way, “No” is a complete sentence. If you struggle in this area, consider getting some outside help from a counselor or coach. And as you start to say no to the things that really aren’t yours to do or aren’t meant for you, you’ll stop squeezing others into space that’s meant for you. And creativity will find her way back to your awareness.
Being kind with yourself can be one of the most difficult things to do. Why? We’re either habituated to criticism or we use harshness as a defense against pain (except it doesn’t work). Notice the times when your inner voice is brutal. Just notice. You’ll know what to do from there. As you pay attention to your inner dialogue and consider how to honor yourself just a bit more, creativity will start to feel safer with you…and once more make herself known.