You know what it’s like when your emotions and your creativity feel like they’re completely synchronized. Your inspiration is in harmony with your talents and skills, your heart, and your sense of identity and agency. In these moments, your imagination flows and takes you to creative realms of wonder and awe. In such a state, bringing your ideas to life feels almost effortless.
I call this your emotional creative space. When you’re in this zone, mistakes don’t seem to matter. Being imperfect in the pursuit of discovering your art is just a part of the creative process. You can be fully present with your craft, and you feel as if nothing can get in the way. It feels right, as if you’ve just stepped out of time. It feels like everything’s meant to be.
When you feel connected to your creative chore, there is no doubt that you are in the right place. You know who you are as a creative and you know what you are here to create.
At home with yourself, your creativity, and your own humanity, you just want to express, experiment, play, and see where your imagination takes you. Despite occasional bouts of fear and insecurity, your passion and curiosity drive you forward.
But then, there are times when you feel anything but inspired and connected
At other times, perhaps right now, these beautiful and complete creative experiences feel far out of reach. Though you know that creativity ebbs and flows, something inside is telling you that this time, it’s different. You haven’t been able to access your creative core for a while, and you are not sure when and how you will get back to your creative emotional space.
Right now, you may find yourself feeling doubts about what you create. You fear what others may say about your art. You’re desperate to prove yourself and you compare yourself with other creatives. You’re more motivated by external factors than by your own passion and creative expression.
You can’t help but to ask yourself: why is this happening? What changed and made my creative world feel so out of reach?
Unhealed experiences of your past can emerge unexpectedly and negatively affect your relationship with your creativity. Any number of factors can reactivate unprocessed thoughts, feelings, and memories that have been buried inside you. The stress and uncertainty related to the current realities causes unresolved past trauma to resurface. In such situations, old patterns and habits can start to reemerge
How do you know if unprocessed emotional trauma is interfering with your creativity?
Here are a few indicators that emotional trauma may be creating a wall between you and your creativity:
- You’re dependent on external validation. While being an artist means having a relationship with your audience, a preoccupation with what others think can stand between you and making a true connection. Ultimately, unhealthy dependency on external validation leaves you disconnected from your creative core.
- Being rejected terrifies you. To protect yourself, you focus on playing safe and avoid making yourself vulnerable in your art or performances. While no one likes to be rejected, you may have an overwhelming fear that keeps you from showing up and being seen.
- You dread feeling vulnerable. To expose yourself to the world leaves you in an emotionally fragile place and causes you to avoid healthy risks that are associated with growth.
- You feel anxious and need to control outcomes in your life. There is a difference between feeling in control and trusting your creative process and feeling the need to control – being controlling leaves you out of touch with your own strengths and weaknesses and unable to honestly use who you are or develop yourself toward accomplishing your goals.
- You are suffering from performance anxiety that goes beyond nerves and “butterflies.”
- Perfectionist tendencies emerge. You become so focused on getting it all right, you cannot freely engage in a playful process of creating.
- Anxiety, depression, and addictions emerge as symptoms and often act to cover the underlying cause: untreated emotional trauma
How can you help yourself heal and reconnect with your emotional creative space?
Working with a psychotherapist with expertise in emotional trauma and the unique needs of creative people can help you get to the root of emotional trauma and heal from inside-out.
As you work through emotional trauma, you can start to navigate the ebbs and flows of your creativity with more emotional flexibility and fluidity. You can access your inner-world and learn to use your rich and fascinating life experiences as sources of inspiration, rather than getting trapped in your past.
You can establish a healthier, more authentic connection with what you create. As you heal your relationship to your past, your fears and insecurities fade and you’ll become more able to engage with your creativity.
I’ve watched my clients regain the trust that their art will speak to those who need it. Passion and love for what they do becomes the driving force, rather than competition and the quest for validation. Rejection of difficult situations that trigger fear or shame become normal emotional experiences to navigate through, not potential sources of paralysis and further trauma.
My wish for my clients, and for all creative professionals is this: that you can freely access your own beautifully flowing creative space, but you can also be “OK” with not being there all the time. You can be “OK” with taking on the messiness and the challenges that come with being creative. You can be “OK” with navigating your humanity and finding ways to continue to show up, heal, and grow from your humane experiences – great and hard and all in between.
The goal is to navigate your creative life with a realistic and solid trust that you will find your way back to your creative core, again, and again, and again… You can make art that is marked by the fullness of who you are and the power of your unique expression. When you heal the old emotional trauma that holds you back, that journey can become so much more effortless.
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 face and shift emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creative blocks, and addictions – to be and live their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers here.