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Mar_20 The creative process - creating vs. creation!

Many of my psychotherapy students have been inspired by my shift to becoming an artist. They are either taking up some form of creativity or giving more space to creative endeavors that they had previously limited.

I am delighted by this. It speaks to me of the creative process and what it can and does offer everyone. Although every individual has their own reasons, it seems that the act of creation feeds our soul at a deep level. The outcome, or end result, is often not as significant as the process itself. Whether you have a career that nourishes you or not, there is still room to find nourishment in new and unexpected places. If your work life isn’t fulfilling, then that’s even more reason to seek fulfillment through creativity.

Years ago, in my first career, I was teaching High School. I saw how being supported to create had a huge impact on the lives my students. If they kept their focus off the end result and stayed with the experience they were having, then their confidence seemed to increase and their delight in themselves and what they could accomplish was evident.

There is a phrase I learned when I was in Al-Anon (an anonymous organization for friends and family of alcoholics) - “compare and despair” - comes to mind here. When we focus on the end result, we are at risk of feeling bad about ourselves. On the other hand, there is no judgement in the process of creation because anything is possible and all attempts are valid.

When children are young they are delighted with their acts of creation, happily bringing home artwork to be hung on the fridge. Later in life we experience external judgements that limit us. When we are judged and assessed by others, we often internalize this and apply these negative assessments to ourselves, even though the external judges are no longer present. We are able to re-claim that wonderful joy of creating without inhibition and self-criticism by recognizing that the end result is not what’s significant but that the journey to that accomplishment is paramount.

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