As a creative, you are happiest when you live in the full depth of your emotional experiences. You wish to be intimately connected to your emotions because you know they spark and fuel your creativity.
Emotions – love, joy, desire, anger, sadness, fear, rejection, grief. – remind us of our alive-ness and humanity. Emotions enable us to tell our stories and express our hopes, longings, fears, struggles, or existential questions. Our emotions are key to our artistic expression, but sometimes, instead of enhancing creativity, they can distract you and obscure your message.
How do emotions enhance or cloud your artistic expression?
First, let’s understand how and when emotions can bring out your most creative self. You have access to your full creative expression when you consciously stand at the intersection of three emotional states.
- When you can hold and feel multiple emotions simultaneously. As human beings, we experience mixed emotions at the same time. An increased capacity to hold space and to feel different emotions at once is a cornerstone of creativity. This shows you are open to the full breadth and depth of your emotions. In this space, you can flow into deep creative insights.
- When you can feel your emotions with intensity and passion. Powerful emotional states that make you feel fully alive, filled with euphoria, magic, and inspiration are highly desirable, but can be hard to hold. When you have the ability to experience and hold such a rich aliveness, your creative capacity is high.
- When you feel in control of your emotions. As creative, you ride the waves of your emotions, moment-by-moment. Your ability to stay grounded in your affective experience, present with your emotions, gives you a sense of calm and focused presence. You can trust what you create, you believe in yourself as an artist, and in the value of your art.
From the intersection of all these forms of emotional awareness, you are able to step into your best creative self. Your creative capacity expands and remains open and flexible. You can see options and possibilities. You can embrace the inherent messiness of the creative process, the unknown, and the uncertainty of the artistic expression. You’re in control of your creative process.
But what happens when your emotions cloud your creativity?
There are times when you find yourself disconnected from your emotions, not inspired, stuck, maybe feeling somewhat flat emotionally. Maybe your emotions are there, but they are not enough to ignite you and inspire you. Or, you might find you’re confused about what you’re feeling. Perhaps challenging feelings take over, including fear, insecurity, rejection, shame, abandonment, or loss. These feelings begin to feel like too much and your emotions spin out of your control.
As a result of this disconnection, you may find yourself stuck in one emotion, which colors your whole affective experience. You lose your emotional richness and depth when you’re in a unidimensional emotional mode. Now, the tables are turned and your emotions control you. You’re lost and confused, and you don’t see options of possibilities.
Feeling out of control, out of touch, and unable to access the depth of your emotions, your inspiration and imagination seem to have abandoned you.Your creativity goes into an idle, rigid, or blocked mode.
Why do your emotions cloud your creativity?
Your emotions, such as love, joy, fear, shame, or rejection, are pure. When you allow these emotions to flow freely and you live with emotional freedom, you can use their energy to manifest your creative vision in the world.
But, when you get stuck in a certain emotion, you feel like you’re trapped in a cloud. Unable to escape it or see beyond this fog, you are likely experiencing the symptoms of old, unhealed pain caused by past emotional trauma. Unresolved trauma has a way of being triggered in the present and affects your creativity, your relationships, and your entire quality of life.
When you have unhealed underlying trauma or emotional blocks you may:
- be able to connect with your emotions and use them to make your art, but outside the creative process you may be disconnected from your emotions.
- be able to connect with your emotions sometimes, but you’re also accustomed to feeling creatively or emotionally blocked without understanding why
- be able to be creative only when in certain altered emotional states
be able to create only when certain memories or feelings are sparked by current circumstances, leaving you dependent on external factors
- be able to feel alive and connected when you create, but when you are away from your art, you suffer from emotional pain
Unhealed emotional trauma or emotional conflict can show up in different ways. The more complex the trauma or the emotional conflict the more complex, uncertain, fickle, or unpredictable your creative process may feel.
How can you access your emotions and experience emotional freedom, both as a creative and as an individual seeking to live a whole and fulfilling life?
Healing the emotional trauma or conflicts will help you access more and more your best creative self and reach your full creative potential. And, the more you’re able to live in that space, the more creative and emotionally free you become.
It’s important to recognize and remember that you don’t have to live in emotional pain to be creative. Your creativity and your life can be enriched and expanded when you heal the old pain that has actually been holding you back.
My California-based psychotherapy practice specializes in the unique needs of artists and creatives. To learn more about how psychotherapy can help heal emotional trauma or conflict and help you access the full depth of your human affective experiences to enrich and expand your creativity, please contact me to set up a free initial consultation.
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.