As an artist or a creative person you have a special skill: you love to live and craft in your fantasy realms – your dreamworld. These inner realms are full of imaginative visions, passion, and fantasy. In this space, you encounter the characters, you hear music, you experience the stories that want to flow through you and to take shape in the world.
You love your dream-fantasy inner world. It’s where all your creative ideas are born and where your big career dreams come to light. This is where you feel most at home.
Living in the dreamworld comes naturally, and it is very fulfilling for you. Unfortunately, this deep engagement with your own inner world can make monotonous reality feel like a strange and challenging territory.
“Reality,” which we often equate with the practical, mundane, difficult aspects of life, can be a challenge for many people, but it is particularly difficult for those who identify as creatives and working artists.
This is ironic since the arts world itself is a particularly challenging reality to take on. It’s a world filled with uncertainty, unknowns, and competition. Rejection lurks around every corner. It can take a lot to be seen and valued for your real worth. And then there’s the potential for mistreatment and abuse… And yet, you need to be adept at moving through this reality because so much of your success is about getting your foot in the door, meeting the right people, and getting to work with the important decision-makers at the top.
With all this in mind, you may be inclined to avoid reality, even though you know it hurts your chances of reaching new creative heights. You do this not only because you love your dreamworld so much, but also because the reality of the arts world can be harsh and challenging.
What if avoiding reality is actually keeping you from achieving your creative dreams?
What would happen if you dared to look beyond your dreamworld to see and face reality? What if reckoning with reality could move your artistic career forward? What if there is power in working with the realities and limitations of the everyday world ?
It’s important to understand that even if you deny reality, reality doesn’t go anywhere. Whatever you wish to avoid is still there to challenge you. In fact, being in denial makes you less able to face your challenges.
Denial can make you more emotionally reactive, overwhelmed, or terrified of the things that you need to face. Denial steals your ability to consciously work within reality. It leaves you trapped in fear, insecurities, and doubts. When ignored, the toughest parts of reality have a way of taking over and controlling you. Your unconscious unhealed conflicts can over and control you, instead of you being connected with your creativity and sense of agency to develop your career.
In this emotionally clouded place you can lose your connection to your talents and skills. You’re less likely to put your efforts where they belong. It becomes harder for you to see possibilities and opportunities as they emerge.
There’s a common misconception that the work of the artist is at odds with the pragmatic, pedestrian elements of life. In fact, you thrive in your artistic realm while staying grounded in reality – where your dream world meets reality and struggle, work, and eventually dance together.
When you acknowledge and work with reality, you become actively engaged in building your career dreams and deepening your creative life.
Yes, you may need help and support, but you can step out your comfort zone and face the reality of the creative world. Be bold. Be courteous. Go for what you want grounded in your dreams and reality at the same time.
So how can you help yourself stay grounded in the current reality and in your fantasy world at same time?
1. Acknowledge and validate your need to live in the fantasy -dreamworld
Yes, your dreamworld matters to you. You’re an artist. Your inner creative world is the source of your creative passion and vision. It fills you with inspiration and motivation. In this place you connect with your creative energy.
Your dreamworld takes you where you long to be, where you belong, and where you are mostly likely to shine. Your artistic life can be an amazing journey, when you are in touch with your own creative source.
Honor and protect your dreamworld! Allow yourself to fully enjoy it and be there. It’s where you feel at home as an artist.
2. Remember that tangible rewards are not always a measure of your value
The arts world is fascinating and beautiful, but it can also be deceiving. The “reality” created by the authorities and gatekeepers in the arts world–those who run galleries, cast shows, and pick talent–isn’t a reflection of your fullest worth and value.
Your accomplishments may not always lead to tangible rewards or clear recognition, and this can send you fleeing back to your own inner world – get stuck there in fears, insecurities, and doubts.
When you’re not rewarded and recognized for your skills it can feel like a one-sided love affair in which you give all you have and get very little back. You can run out of life energy, passion, inspiration – all the emotional ingredients you need to feel satisfied, fulfilled, and energized enough to keep creating.
Eventually, you can feel empty. The lack of substantial emotional nourishment and financial rewards can send you further and further from the reality you need to navigate as a creative professional. In time, this kind of alienation and separation can lead to anxiety, depression, and addictions.
Let the tangible results be a reality you work with, but don’t let it be a reflection of your talents and skills.
3.Love your career, but don’t let if be everything to you
Yes, put in your best effort, work hard, and continue to develop your creative skills. But remember your heart and your passion belong to all parts of your life, not just your artistic pursuits.
Maybe you’re a great actor, but also a great leader. A great screenwriter as well as an advocate. A fine artist and a yoga lover… or a parent too. Let all parts of who you are be expressed. Allow all of you to bloom in the shared reality so others can know you and benefit from all that you are.
You can express who you are in ways that fit or add to your artistic career. Finding other meaningful experiences along with your creative career can offer you emotional and financial rewards.
You can find emotional or financial rewards from all aspects of your life. You don’t have to express just one of your identities. You are an artist, and so much more.
4.You need authentic relationships
As you navigate all kinds of professional relationships, make sure you nourish yourself with some genuine connections, both private and professional. Other people help to connect you to the wider reality as they offer you different perspectives.
Seek people who really believe in you, see you, and appreciate you. Be with those who give you that sense of satisfying emotional connection. They are your emotional buffer zone and they give you a comfortable, “real world” place to land outside of your own fantasy world.
Such friends and loved ones feed you emotionally, helping you access all the good feelings. They fill you with empowering energy that enables you to trust yourself, feel inspired, and feel valued. They protect you from rejections, devaluations, attacks, or abuse.
Soaked in all the emotional ingredients that come with real connections, you can connect with your courage and take on the big reality of the arts world and the wider world.
Authentic, satisfying relationships will sustain you, help you stay centered and connected and keep you moving forward.
5. Understand the benefits of grounding yourself in reality
Being in touch with reality helps you see more clearly who you are as an artist: your unique talents, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. You can understand your value, where you fit in the artistic world, and how you offer something unique that no one else can.
When you have the perspective to see yourself in relationship with the external reality, you can make intentional decisions about what skills you need to improve or hone.
Being grounded in reality helps you see opportunities as they appear and consciously move towards those that resonate with who you are. This is the emotional space where you’re tuned into your opportunities, your best creative self emerges for others to see and value.
Being in a working relationship with reality helps you create your real artistic world, and this is an art in itself.
If you find it difficult to navigate the “real world” outside of your own artistic inner world, psychotherapy specifically intended for artists, creatives, and performers can be particularly helpful.
Together, we can discover and heal the old wounds and stories that make the everyday artistic and mundane world feel so difficult. It is possible to develop a healthy relationship with reality while still deepening your creative abilities.
Contact me today to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see how therapy can help you become a more confident, connected creative.
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.