We’ve been through almost two long years of disruption. It’s been challenging for everyone, but it is particularly unsettling for creatives and performers.
As you well know, navigating a creative career was tough enough before 2020. How do you do it now with all the extra added layers that emerge as the world constantly shifts and becomes more complex? If you’re asking questions like this, you’re not alone.
You are being challenged in ways you never imagined. It has never been so challenging to access your creativity or to share your work. You’re left hanging and waiting for a career opportunity and you find yourself more anxious than ever.
You are an artist, someone who makes a living as a creative and who calls creativity into all parts of life. What will it take for you to continue to show up in your art, work, and feel successful? What stands in your way?
Anxiety emerges and grows when you have no outlet for your creativity.
As an artist, you thrive when you have an outlet to express your creativity. You feel alive when you channel your inner visions into art, especially when there is purpose and meaning behind your artistic vision. When your artistic skills flow together with your imagination, you feel like you are riding the high of your own inspiration. You know you’re creating something amazingly beautiful. You love that feeling that comes over you when you know you nailed it!
This is what it is like to stand in your own crystal clear, calm, focused creative presence. In moments like these, you’re mentally in control of your creativity. It feels right. It gives you hope. You can see opportunities for your art. You act from your a grounded artistic vision and its purpose.
But then, there are also the dreadful times when you’re in the pits of despair. You feel out of control and at the mercy of both your own human limitations and all the outside factors you cannot control. In such a state, you’re out of touch with your creativity. You can’t see options or opportunities. You act from worries and anxieties.
Anxiety takes over.
When anxiety gets hold of you, that sense of being pushed around by decision makers who don’t respect your creative efforts and ideas seems even more crushing. They relentlessly put pressure and demands upon you or try to control your creative process to the point that you begin to lose your connection to your authentic voice. You wonder if you’ll survive as an artist and continue to have impact or influence. Will you get any work if you can’t access, channel, and advocate for your own art?
This new anxiety is keeping you spinning around the edges of your creativity, barely able to access your imagination, talents, or skills. You aren’t able to be the creative that you know you can really be.
You’ve proved yourself to be a brilliant artist so many times before, how can you conquer this anxiety that stands between you and your creativity?
While feeling out of control and anxious as an artist is challenging, there is hope and there is help.
Although you may be spinning in worries and anxiety about the current challenges, the path to healing and recovery may be rooted in your more distant past.
Healing anxiety where it starts, from inside-out, will help you face the present from a grounded and empowered emotional space. When you have a strong emotional anchor you can face challenges without being pulled down to the bottom of despair. You can prevail, learn, grow, and transform through challenging times.
Though you may protest and think, “I have so much to deal with right now already! I don’t have the time nor the head space to start digging up the past,” the truth is, this just may be the perfect time. There is no better time to face and heal old anxieties than when they are triggered by current challenges. You have an opportunity to heal and transform both the trauma of the past and discover new ways to meet the difficulties of today.
Your mind’s responses to current anxiety provoking situations are shaped by your old experiences and the coping mechanisms you developed in order to face challenging times.
Yes, life as creative can be tough and you are called to face real challenges constantly. When you have unhealed trauma from the past, current difficulties can bring up old anxieties that don’t belong in the present.
When “the now” gets enmeshed with your past, you get trapped into a cloudy mix of current and old anxieties. Your mind doesn’t even know what’s now or what’s then. You’re dragged back to a less emotionally, creatively capable version of yourself, a version of you that is not able to cope with current complex challenges.
In that clouded, enmeshed, anxiety-filled place, you don’t have clarity about the present moment, nor can you access your current creative or emotional abilities. You can’t navigate such current adult challenges from a grounded, mature emotional and creative space.
You may find that you respond to present-moment situations with old, ineffective strategies. For example, in the past, you might have coped with anxieties and fears by withdrawing, numbing, freezing, or avoiding the challenge. When your unhealed trauma responses get triggered, you may unwittingly respond the same old, unhealthy ways in the present.
While these unhealthy strategies helped you survive in the past, now they are a defensive wall that stands between you and your creative emotional space. Every time you cope with defensive strategies, you get re-traumatized. There is no healing, transformations, or growth when you are trapped in such a cycle.
As you clear away unhealed trauma, you become able to let down your wall of defenses so you can start navigating current realistic worries and anxieties from a healthier and more constructive emotional place.
On the other side of trauma, you can face current challenges with more emotional freedom and clarity so you no longer get trapped in normal human fears or worries. You can continue to ebb and flow with your creativity as you can lean in, embrace, and move through anxieties. You can maintain a crystal clear, calm, focused creative presence, even in difficult times.
Healing the past actually helps you heal your present anxiety and create your future
Here’s something that might surprise you: the more you face your anxieties the more you can find your comfort in them. In doing the work to heal your past trauma, you become more able to face life challenges from a more grounded and anchored emotional space. Going forward you will continue to develop the emotional resiliency that it is so necessary when you’re pursuing a creative career.
As your comfort level with your own anxieties and fears increases, so does the inner emotional space that contains the richness of your humanity. All of the feelings that you’re no longer afraid to feel and be with can emerge to help you create your life and art. It is the richness of your feelings that brings out your most inspiring, touching work.
You can reach deeper and deeper into your own rich creative treasure. You can be present and intimately connected and grounded in your creative process. When you are fully connected to your own humanity and the humanity of the collective, you can make art that speaks and matters.
Yes, you can use your anxiety to create great art when you heal your past
Though your opportunities to perform, pitch, and show your work may look vastly different than it did two years ago, and though you might not feel you have the same access to your audience as you once did, you can still find outlets for your creativity. These are challenging but transforming times with new creative outlets emerging.
The complex and continually shifting world, including all the issues that we face as individuals and as a collective, can become your inspiration, your muse, and your outlet of creative purposeful and meaningful expression.
And, if anxiety gets in the way of your ability to show up as a creative or emerges because you can’t produce and connect through your art as you once did, remember there’s a great deal you can do to get back to your powerful creative emotional space. These are challenging but transforming times with new creative outlets emerging.
Therapy that helps you heal anxiety from inside-out and gets to the root of your anxieties. An experienced therapist helps you clear the inner path so you can plot a new outer path. With the support you need to heal old emotional wounds and traumas, you can be free to find new creative outlets and be productive even in challenging times.
With some time and attention to your inner world, you can begin to envision a wide world of possibilities not worries.
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.