I think we’ve all experienced this in one form or another. Stifling our creativity because of “I-DON’T-HAVE-TIME-ITIS” or because we’re “not good enough” or because we felt like it was a waste of time, you’re busy and all that.
After a while though, we start feeling restless… feeling like we need to DO something, we have a short attention span and just don’t know where to start. I call it getting in a twidget. Weird, I know. That’s when I know I have been neglecting my creative side. It’s an imbalance of information/inspiration consumption and not enough actual doing.
It doesn’t sound that bad though really… or is it?
Here are 3 potential consequences of stifling creativity.
1. Increased Anxiety
Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.Brenè Brown, PHD
Quite simply, all that creative energy (that we all have) has to go somewhere. Much like a body fueling up with food and expending the energy through exercise, if too much fuel is consumed or too little energy used, then you put on weight. It’s the same thing with creativity, only instead of weight gain, you get anxious.
You have all these thoughts and ideas racing around your head and more and more gets added until you’re in a busy-minded anxious mess and you don’t know where to start. If you don’t have an outlet for these ideas and thoughts and emotions there will inevitably come a point when you just can’t take any more.
There’s all this creative, imaginative energy that’s desperate to be put to use and if not used positively it can turn on you. Your imagination can play tricks on you and magnify simple situations into threatening possibilities. In this frame of mind, if someone’s running late, you imagine these scenarios of car crashes or sickness, or “maybe they just don’t like me anymore, did I say something wrong?” As someone who has experience with anxiety and panic, I know how easy it is for these thoughts creep up on you. And seriously, if you’re suffering anxiety, please speak to your doctor or a trusted friend. ❤
2. Loss of Individuality
I don’t know if this is just my experience, but, how is it that we are so critical of our creative efforts? Why is it that we are so critical of some things that are unique to us and when does it start? Why do we iron out these things that are so uniquely us and try and be like everyone else?
If we do not practice being vulnerable and honest with ourselves, which is a vital part of the creative process, by taking the time to make things with our own hands (be it sewing, baking, music etc.) then we are not giving ourselves the emotional practice and time of self reflection that we need to be confident in our individuality.
So much of our modern world is virtual and it’s so easy to feel lost and a nobody in the social media swirl of the internet. Getting back to practical physical creative work is such a great antidote to this and you can actually see what you have accomplished. You can see your own handwriting as it were on what you’ve made. You can see and learn your own likes and dislikes, the blending of your own unique story and interests coming together consciously and unconsciously to create something new. That is very special.
3. Loss of problem solving skills
If you’re not regularly exercising your creativity muscles then you may be more likely to struggle in coming up with a variety of potential solutions to problems. You may be tempted to pass the responsibility onto someone else. Well… it’s very likely that it’s not “someone’s” job to solve it. It does nothing for your self-worth, which keeps the vicious self-talk cycle going.
The freedom of thinking exercised by creativity is so useful in every area of life. “Here’s a problem, here’s what you have available, now what are you going to do about it?” Sometimes you need to think beyond the obvious to reach the best solution. You may just have to try something before you know it will work, and, trying means being willing to fail. Think about that.
If you are not used to being creative then you are freezing up your ability to be open to failure. And if you’re not open to failure you can’t really succeed. Proper humility and openness makes it easier to ask for help when we need to, to come up with the best solution.
In conclusion, we can see that not making time to creatively express our thoughts, ideas and emotions can affect us adversely. We will look into why we stifle creativity another day, but for now try and make the time to be creative, even if it’s once a week, get in that zone where you’re thinking and making and untangling all the thoughts in your head. Creativity is a great stress reliever and therapeutic tool but we shouldn’t wait to be stressed and anxious to use it. We can use creative time to remember our individuality and uniqueness and to practice problem solving in a safe environment so that we are more capable when we have to deal with more serious issues in life.