Harness the vitality of your inner creative energy to perform effectively on the outer stage
Artists, writers, teachers, musicians, academics—people in the creative professions face a unique challenge in managing the demands of their creative energy with social and professional expectations. A life that engages the creative process can be a source of great joy, pleasure, and vitality. Many people consider their creativity their central guiding philosophy and their foundation. Creativity is a powerful impulse that drives the need to express through invention. It’s an inherent part of human biology and a source of energy and significance that is close to sacred. Everyone aspires to be creative, not just people in creative professions.
The creative process is an organic, evolutionary experience that requires careful nurturing. But when it collides with a rigid, results-hungry professional culture, it can be profoundly disruptive. Given such inevitable pressures, the fear of being found a fraud or inadequate haunts many creative individuals. The reality of “dry periods”—a part of every artist’s experience — can compound that anxiety.
Many in the creative industries focus so completely on their craft that other skills may suffer. To be able to draw reliably from the well of invention and imagination is a critical skill, but outside demands and expectations can put pressure on and stymie the creative process. According to psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihaly, creative people must be able to understand and conform to social norms, yet be able to break away from them. People who operate too much within convention may have trouble thinking out of the box. On the other hand, creative people who have difficulty responding to the pressures of reality, such as deadlines, performance demands, working with others, financial pressures, etc., may have trouble finding success.
The Unique Stresses of the Performing Arts
The highs and lows associated with artistic industries can create lives filled with stress and pressure. Many creative professionals are required to produce at a high level, while receiving either little feedback or frequent negative feedback. Unlike other professions that provide people time to prove their mettle over long, steady engagements, creative success often rides on a single event, production, or performance. It can often make it hard for people to connect to their muse. It’s hard to be playful, spontaneous, and imaginative in the face of stress. This kind of intense and focused pressure sets the stage for image title: be more creative – right justify, wrap in paragraph. creative blocks, anxiety and self-doubt, making creative professionals particularly vulnerable to feeling like frauds or imposters.
Do You Suffer from Creative Blocks?
Helping people connect to their creative energy involves directly addressing the creative blocks that hinder them. Sometimes blocks are caused by too much critiquing. Success often involves expertise and analysis in the service of the relentless pursuit of improvement. Yet scientific research has demonstrated that too much activity in the part of the brain involved in analysis and intellect can inhibit creativity. Critical and emotional blocks can effectively shut down innovation and inspiration.
What Can Psychotherapy Do for the Creative Process?
At its core, psychotherapy is itself a creative process.
Like most creative endeavors, it navigates a course somewhere between charted and uncharted waters. In this respect, psychotherapy is a uniquely powerful tool for helping people source their creativity and deep vitality. For Dr. Wu, working with such creative forces is the heartbeat of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.
A critical way individual counseling is relevant to creativity is that it helps people to process trauma. Creativity and trauma often go together because art is often the form of sublimated expression that is sought when the psyche and its coping resources are overwhelmed. Consider art forms such as African-American Spirituals. Trauma as a driver of creativity can be both powerfully inspiring and problematic as the psyche struggles with unresolved trauma. This kind of working through is both the source of creativity and the inevitable “blocks” that arise in any creative effort.
Dr. Wu’s integrated approach to helping individuals with creativity includes psychodynamic psychotherapy, mindfulness and mind-body approaches, including somatic experiencing therapy.
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