Your creativity may take any number of different forms–writing, acting, music performance, or the making of fine art. Of course, life itself is a deeply creative act.
You can connect to your creative potential and grow from there, when you develop and nurture a relationship with all that you are. Your talents, skills, and vision, as well as your feelings, thoughts, and inspiration are all part of the equation.
Your art takes shape when you draw together your most personal experiences with your expansive imagination. One creative moment at a time, you use all elements of your internal life to make your art.
You know that particular set of feelings and sensations that emerge when you are truly in your flow as an artist. It almost feels like magic when you and your art merge and become one. When you fully immerse yourself in your own stories and experiences as well as your artistic powers, you enter into a state of creative bliss.
Of course, in the midst of these moments of creative bliss, there are moments of creative mess. You feel lost in creative possibilities and overwhelmed by your own inner world. Artistically, everything feels like an experiment and you keep making mistakes. You often move from project and nothing seems to stick. It’s hard to create art and you come against old fears and internal struggles that you might not want to examine.
When you have the strength and vision to navigate the messy creative moments, including your own shadows and worries, you can eventually find your way back to creative bliss. It takes a lot to move through the creative challenges and into creative flow, however.
To get through the challenging moments that are part of any artistic career and any well-lived life, you need to know how to stay present and connected throughout the entire creative process. You need to be present as you enter into creative flow, and you need to stay connected even in moments of frustration and confusion.
This process of staying connected to your art in both the good times and the challenging times – and everything in between – is called developing creative intimacy. Creative intimacy allows you to make powerful art that is authentic and uniquely you. Creative intimacy is essential to your artistic career. And, because your art is such a fundamental part of you, creative intimacy is essential to your own happiness and mental well-being.
As important as creativity intimacy is, it’s not easy to maintain such a state. It requires you to stay present and connected to everything related to your creative process – including your own limitations, your fears and doubts, and your relationship to the unknown.
What does it take to establish and continue your creative intimacy, even when it feels difficult?
As paradoxical as it sounds, you need to become comfortable with what challenges you.
1. Find comfort in your limitations in order to nurture your creativity
Let’s be honest, facing your limitations is not easy. Recognizing your limitations can make you feel inadequate. When you are aware of what you can’t do, it may feel like your abilities are diminished. If you spend too much time and energy on what you cannot do, you run the risk of disconnecting from the true extent of your talents, skills, and potential.
The problem is, every time you try to deny or escape your awareness of your own limitations, they actually become more powerful. They’re like beasts that grow in your unconscious. They hide in the darkness and slowly take control of your creative life.
In order to grow and maintain your relationship with your creativity, you need to face your limitations, not deny them. When you can see your limitations, you begin to have choices. You can either work with them and integrate them with the skills you do have or you can transform your limitations into something that enhances your art.
Creative intimacy relies on allowing your limitations to coexist and dance alongside your strengths.
2. Face your fears and doubts in order to nurture your creativity
It’s hard to acknowledge our fears and self doubts. We tend to want to ignore or avoid the unknown or things that make us “feel bad” about ourselves. When you try to stifle thoughts and feelings, however, they remain there, dormant in your mind, ready to be triggered at the worst possible moment.
Old, unacknowledged fears and doubts have a way of producing your old, unhealthy actions and responses. When they emerge, you may end up feeling out of control, paralyzed, or lost. You may not be aware they’re there, but they can end up dictating your creative life.
When you understand the presence and the potency of your fears and doubts, you can begin to take back your power. It requires some deep emotional work, but it really is possible to rewrite the story of your insecurities.
Creative intimacy deepens when you develop self-knowledge and are no longer afraid to see and embrace all of your fears and self-doubts.
3. Allow yourself to navigate the unknown in order to nurture your creativity
Though a stable, predictable routine is healthy for your artistic or personal life, the mysterious unknown is always a part of the picture. You project your unconscious hopes, dreams, fantasies, and fears into the unknown future. The unknown future becomes a reflection of everything you don’t fully know or understand about your inner world.
You can get access to your inner world – your motivations, drives, longings, and conflicts – by paying attention to what you project into the unknown future. In other words, you begin to understand more about yourself when you examine your own beliefs about what might come next.
When you start to understand your relationship with the more hidden aspects of your own mind, your unknown internal territory can become a creative asset. Having access to your inner world of motivations, drives, longings, and conflicts you can explore a vaster array of emotions and ideas.
Though there is much to be gained by exploring the unknown aspects of your psyche, there are many reasons that you may try to avoid getting comfortable there. Naturally you don’t want to remember how you felt rejected, unseen, invalidated, or judged. But, as we discussed above, when you try to push away feelings that you perceive as negative, those difficult emotions have a way of emerging and even controlling you. Rather than perceiving the unknown like some mysterious void that you should stay away from, you can actively work with those hidden areas of the mind in order to enhance your art.
Creative intimacy depends on developing a relationship with all aspects of the self – including your inner world which might seem inaccessible and unknowable until you start to look more closely.
4. Nurturing all parts of yourself allows you to create with more passion, intimacy, and freedom
When you can begin to get comfortable with your imperfections, fears and doubts, and the unknown, you’ll be in an intimate relationship with your inner mind and its creative fountain. Ultimately, developing this kind of creative intimacy will make you feel more whole and fulfilled and will enable you to take the right kind of creative risks so you can produce art that is genuine and meaningful.
Psychotherapy can help you develop creativity intimacy
Facing the hidden parts of yourself, the old stories and unhealed wounds can be daunting. Often, there are unexamined traumas from childhood that linger in the recesses of your mind. You may have built a lifetime of defenses against that pain, and it can feel impossible to access those feelings, never mind find comfort in them.
With the help of an experienced psychotherapist who specializes in helping artists and performers connect to their creativity and to themselves, you can safely navigate your past, become more comfortable with the present moment, and work toward a fulfilling, connected future.
Contact me to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see if therapy can help you develop as an artist and an individual.
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 Therapy for Creatives and Performers.