As a creative, you need to access your emotions to make your art, perform, or accomplish your goals. Emotions are your creative power. And, you are the creative instrument that channels all the emotions in their pure form, tones, or meaning. When you are in touch with your emotions you can use them to make your art or to perform. Your true feelings help you tell your unique story. And, you communicate the full spectrum of emotion through art you to create a true connection with your audience.
But, sometimes, your past emotional experiences can hijack your feelings of the present and interfere with your creativity or performance.
Unfortunately, your creative instrument has a tendency to slip out of tune. Though your goal is to stay connected and grounded in your emotions, your emotions can take over and control you. You get stuck in your emotions and feel like you’re at their whims. Unable to direct your emotions to fuel your art, you lose your creative power.
Being “out of tune” and disconnected from your authentic emotions can look different for different artists.
- You become more likely to worry about everything you cannot control. In the midst of your work you may suddenly find yourself wondering whether others may think about your art. Your creative flow stops and your inspiration vanishes. All you are aware of is your fear of “what would they think about me when my story gets out there?” and “Will my story have an impact?”
- Your productivity is diminished. Though you wake up in the morning determined to make your art, you find the day goes by and you haven’t accomplished anything. When this happens day after day you become so frustrated that you lose trust in your ability as an artist.
- Your acting or your performance doesn’t feel genuine. In rehearsal you feel so connected with yourself and your craft, but when you show up for others and share your artistry, you seem to lose your connection to yourself and your art. Your talents and skills aren’t enough to tell the story because your heart just isn’t in it.
- You can’t make use of constructive criticism. You finally get to take that class you always dreamed about to hone your artistic skills, but the coach’s feedback makes you feel angry, criticized, and maybe even ashamed or humiliated. You cannot benefit from the class and to really grow your artistic skills and you end up feeling lost and confused, wondering if you were being too sensitive or your instructor being too rough on you.
So, how can you tune up your creative instrument?
Do your emotional work of integrating your emotional experiences of the past and emotional experiences of the present
When your past and present feelings work together it is like being in a beautiful dance that flows. With one foot in the past and one in the present, you create your steps now in the present.
Though you might want to escape your past, your past has an imprint on you. The stories that you lived are part of you. The lessons you’ve learned or not learned are part of you: when you got stuck, when you succeeded, when you got hurt, or when you felt seen, loved, or heard.
Maybe you want to run away from your past or keep it locked deep inside, but that really isn’t an option. The past is always there, ready to repeat itself, to either stay in the way or help you create your own new story. Your past emotional experiences need to be integrated in your present emotional experiences.
As an artist, remembering and work through your past so you can use it to inform craft your art and life in the present.
Remembering and working through your past is essential for creatives – so you can use it to craft your art and life in the present.
If you don’t have the chance to rewrite old stories of being defeated, you can get stuck in your past. One foot stuck in the past can drag you all the way there. Stuck in old stories, when you have avoided and denied your experiences.
Your past is not to be re-lived. Your past is to inform and create your present. But, unhealed emotional trauma can keep you in the past. You can’t use it to create your life now.
Integrating you past and present allows you to blend your old and new experiences to create with authenticity and courage – to freely feel the past in the present without losing yourself or getting trapped there. To let old stories to give voice to what you want to assert, manifest, or portray now.
You don’t want to be the artist that repeats old traumatic stories over and over again. You want to be the artist that can use your old stories to crate new masterpieces with new massages of healing, making sense of humane experience, conquering, transformation, or creating new purpose and meaning.
In the therapy community we describe it as emotional trauma work. This is the kind of work that needs to be done in order for you to live and create fully in the present. Yes, this is hard work. But, it’s harder to stay stuck in the past, unable to understand why your present is not working or why your stories don’t speak to your audience.
How can you do the work of integrating your past and present?
There are many ways you can help yourself, but nothing can replace the work that you can do with the right therapist for you. A combination of psychodynamic therapy and attachment-focused EMDR informed by the neuroscience of relationships is a powerful method.
If you have any question about how EMDR therapy can support your creative career feel free to contact me for your 15-20 min free consultation.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with their life struggles, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creativity, relationships and love, PTSD, and addictions – to become their own best version. You can read more about EMDR on my EMDR Therapy Page.