When you create a piece of art or perform in a way that touches your audience’s hearts, connects to their dreams and challenges, or inspires them to change, how do you accomplish this? You do it in your unique way, of course, but there is one thing that all the creatives and performers have in common: you reach people by accessing and connecting to their emotions.
It is through emotions that creatives and performers tell stories and reveal the essence of these stories. Some of these stories are remembered not only for a lifetime, but also are passed on through generations. Our human spirit lives through enduring forms of arts.
This sounds so amazing, doesn’t it? And yet, what about the emotional demands that you, the creative or performer, has to face? You’re called to translate your feelings into art, set aside your own feelings to evoke an emotional experience, emotionally transition from your art back to real life, and to navigate the challenging world of the arts and entertainment. To make all this happen, you need a certain emotional flexibility, adaptability, and resilience.
So, how do you ensure that you have these “emotional abilities” so you can consistently – and safely – pour your feelings into your art? After all, when you are called to use your emotional space in both your professional and private life, it can be easy to lose touch with your emotional resources.
The more you’re out of touch with you emotional resources, the more you tend to struggle. You’re more likely to act out, feel like you’re being “inauthentic,” and lose your genuine connection to yourself and others. This is when “defensive coping mechanisms” like repression, denial, blocks, projections, can start to cloud your mind and control how you feel and act.
Though your purpose as an artist may be to live with emotional freedom so you can create your meaningful life and art, when you fall into defensive territory you may find you can’t access that freedom.
How do you know when your “defense mechanism” are taking over?
If you find yourself feeling chronically unhappy or angry, empty and bored, unconnected and unfulfilled, unmotivated, sensitive and reactive to apparently insignificant issues, consumed by anxieties, lost in depression, or your reactions are taking you by surprise you may be trapped in emotional defenses.
Accessing your emotions to create or perform may not always feel like a simple task when you get trapped in some emotional defenses. At the same time, you depend on accessing certain emotional states because they are the medium through which your art is created. Sometimes, artists and performers find they hurt themselves in order to keep showing up and creating. They need that emotional freedom so much that would do anything for it, including dangerous drugs. All of us have mourned the premature loss of artists we love…
Yes, managing that fine balance between navigating the emotional demands of your career and being in touch with your true feelings on a consistent basis can feel like a tough state to sometimes. Yet, this balance is at the core of what it means to create, perform, and live with emotional freedom.
So, what creatives and performers can do to maintain this emotional freedom and not get trapped in emotional defenses?
You need a safe place to process any old emotional pain, life challenges, and feelings. You need to feel seen and understood, encouraged and motivated, to be inspired to take on life with courage, and to discover your strengths and healthy ways of coping.
Most of the time, “defensive coping mechanisms” operate in your unconscious mind. They mask some emotional wounds, pain, or trauma that you have not had the chance to heal. Because of their unconscious nature, these defenses tend to persist and control you in surprising ways, like when you least expect it or you really need to show up.
Coaching, self-help books, meditation, or mindfulness can be helpful. However, sometimes, you need a psychotherapist specifically trained to get at the root of emotional defenses that are keeping you hostage.
If you have any questions about living with emotional freedom as opposed to being controlled by emotional defensive, feel free to contact me. I am your emotional safe space to help you heal what you need to heal so you can let go of unconscious defenses and live, create, and perform with emotional freedom.
Contact me to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see if psychotherapy can help you further your career and your personal life.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creative blocks / creative issues, relationships, and addictions – to be and live their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers here.