Remember how life was before you had responsibilities? When your biggest concern was how you were going to spend your Friday night; before you spent all of your time and energy simply trying to keep your job, pay your bills, put food on the table, and, if you have a family, take care of them, too?!
Chances are that time in your life was when you felt most creative. You may have painted, wrote in your journal, created music, or any number of other things that nurtured your creative self.
As we get older and take on more responsibilities, some of the things we need to do to nurture ourselves and maintain balance get placed on the back burner. We are forced to give up the creative activities we love in order to attend to other priorities. This may start out as a temporary situation, but it can quickly become a new precedent, and we end up completely abandoning the creativity that nourishes us. If we get too out of balance, we feel completely disconnected with our creative selves.
For creative people, creative expression is like blood for the soul. When the supply is being restricted, it feels like something isn’t right inside, and the spirit wilts. The creative soul senses that it’s not getting enough of what it needs to fully express itself and thrive.
If you are a creative person, it’s a mistake to let this imbalance go on for too long. I’m a big believer in nourishing all aspects of ourselves – our bodies, our minds, and our spirits – so I think it’s extremely important to find ways to reconnect with our creative selves.
You might be asking yourself, “How can I do this? When do I have time? How can I find the energy or inspiration?” Think back to a time in your life when you were really in touch with your creative self – when you listened to the voice inside you that whispered, “Create now!” and heeded your creative urges. Then think about these questions:
1. How did you feel physically? Were you shape, walking with a spring in your step, carrying yourself with a sense of pride and purpose – with more energy and good posture? Remember what that physical state of being felt like in your body. Re-live that physical feeling in your mind. Tap in to it mentally so you can get reacquainted with it and recreate it.
2. What triggers used to put you in a creative mood? Triggers can be anything from listening to music to dancing, taking a long walk, reading, exercising, taking a road trip, etc.
3. What did you think about leading up to and during your creative process? When you’re focused only on your to-do list, you can’t connect with these thoughts and the creative juices they inspire. What we focus on creates our emotional state, so try to remember and think again those thoughts that brought you joy, peace, and inspiration – that mental state of being that gave you the intense inspiration to create.
4. What was it about the creative process that was most fulfilling for you? Was it the beginning stage when you came up with a plan, an idea, or design? Was it the middle stage – the actual process of creating? Or was it seeing your idea completed and relishing in your creation? Maybe it was it the whole ball of wax!
These questions comprise an exercise for your mind that will steer your thoughts towards what you want to create. If you want to reconnect with your creative self, you will have to start thinking about it! THOUGHT is power, and all creative ideas begin with thought.
There was a time in your life when your thoughts and ideas generated a positive emotional state in which you felt inspired to express yourself through your creativity. It begins in your mind. Go there again.
Can’t remember what used to inspire you, or it no longer works? Explore what inspires you now; is it listening to music, exercising, going to a museum, watching the ocean or a sunset, being in nature, reading? We each draw inspiration from different things, so think about and experiment with what makes YOU feel emotionally high and inspired. Try these strategies to find your inspiration:
VISUALIZATION: If what used to inspire you was environmental, and you no longer have access to it (for example, you used to create in the mountains but now you live in the city), perhaps you can carve out a little time to go somewhere within driving distance (or a bus or train ride) that’s similar to the environment you are missing. If it’s not possible for you to physically go somewhere inspiring, then go there in your mind. Visualize what you miss. Recreate the feeling by tapping in to what all five of your senses experienced in your favorite place. Imagine the smell of the trees, the way the grass felt in your hands, the sound of a rolling creek, the sight of snowcapped mountains, etc.
MUSIC: I cannot stress enough the powerful influence of music over our emotions. When you want to change your state of mind, music is one of the fastest and most effective ways to do so. When you make time for yourself to be creative, choose the right music to help inspire and motivate you. Be careful about the music you select, because it has the power to pull you toward past negative memories instead of inspiring you to get up off your rear end and dance around the room! So choose wisely!
MEDITATION: Meditation can elevate your creative desire, too. There are many ways to meditate. Some like to meditate while walking, some prefer the traditional seated meditation, and others focus on specific breathing meditations. You might find it helpful to sit and meditate to the sound of a nature CD in the background. There are a variety of choices you can experiment with.
Any of these mini-vacation strategies can release your mind from your responsibilities so it has the freedom to fantasize again. If you commit to making some time to reconnect with your creative side, you will begin to strengthen your creative muscles again. As your creative muscles get stronger, you will feel the urge to express your creativity. And creative expression can bring more balance to your life.
There’s an added bonus here; by making time for your creative expression instead of ignoring it, you may also find that instead of facing your responsibilities with resentment, you are able to approach them with a renewed enthusiasm.
It’s unlikely that you will always be able to maintain perfect balance in your life and apply your focus and energy equally to all the things there are to do. But if that part of you that craves passionate and creative expression feels like it’s been getting the shaft for too long, stop denying your soul what it deserves and seize the opportunity to reconnect with your creative self!