What’s your creative streak you’ve always said you’ll get back to “when you have time”?
Creative self expression seems to get left on the cutting room floor in the adult pursuit of happiness and success. It’s cast as a luxury only available once we have the respectful job, supportive partner, stable income, modern home, tight circle of BFFs, superfood smoothies, and Instagram-worthy exercise routine.
Yet creativity is worth so much more than we give it credit for. It helps process and regulate emotions, build our sense of identity, develop mindfulness in the present moment, and most importantly connect us to joy.
So what if you don’t think you’re creative?
Widen your definition
There is no such thing as a non-creative person, just a limited definition.
You don’t have to be paid for your creativity for it to count, nor be practising at any particular level. Those of us who draw stick figures are still artistic.
Those of us who sing out of tune in the car are still musical. The value of our creativity is in the way it makes us feel, not in the way it markets to others.Tweet
Any expression that makes us feel electrically charged, and gets us out of our heads, is creativity. For you it may be painting, film, dance, pottery, writing, fashion, poetry, makeup, yoga, drawing, photography, flower arrangement, interior design, cooking, knitting, the way you dress, or even just creative exploration.
The list is endless because our self expression is endless, but one thing I know is that we all have it.
Start before you’re ready
Now you’ve acknowledged your creative self you’re likely thinking “but I’m not ready, I’m not good enough yet”.
This is where we need to put our ego in a box and just start. High expectations and the rigidity of an end result means we’ll never feel the state of readiness we seek.
Your creative self is ready, yearning to be expressed, and wants to bring you the joy that is waiting. Your fear of not being ready, being judged, or failing is a sneaky illusion created by the ego because it doesn’t like not being “the best” at everything.
Break this illusion down by checking what else you feel alongside fear. You might find anticipation, exhilaration, curiosity, or bravery. These sensations feel very similar so try swapping the word fear with curiosity and see what shift that brings to your willingness to play with creativity.
Swap perfection for play
Play and creativity go hand in hand, while perfectionism stifles both. Like creativity, play in adult life has more benefits than we acknowledge.
Dr Stuart Brown’s research shows that regular play improves our resilience, optimism, self expression, problem solving, trusting relationships and stress regulation.
On the other hand, perfectionism (in extreme cases) can cause conditions such as anxiety, stress related illness, eating disorders and obsessive tendencies.
It’s time to uncouple our creativity with the need for achievement, and return to the reason we do it in the first place – joy. Express yourself without worry about the results. It doesn’t matter if no-one comments on it, sees it, hears it, buys it, or even likes it!
What matters is that you’re in the energy of creating. When you do this, you shift your vibrational frequency from control, overthinking, and people-pleasing to flow, intuition, and trust.
A profound example is the Tibetan monks who spend days creating intricate, beautiful mandalas together from coloured sand only to finish and sweep them away. The joy, creative process, and meditative state of creation remains with them whilst teaching the impermanence of things.
So next time second guess your creative endeavours stop and ask “what would this be like if it were fun?”
Trade in comparison for creative companions
Rather than see others as better than or beating you, join them!
Holding back because of self judgement in the eyes of others comes down to trust. By now it will be no surprise that play, creativity, and finally our creative companions all help develop trust.
So surround yourself by those who are in tune with the electrically charged feeling of creation, both your peers and your muses. What are you scared to show them, or what do you think they’ll think about you?
Chances are they have felt or thought the same things. So be with them, and take a chance on what could evolve or emerge if you trusted yourself more.
By stepping out of the creative closet and actively committing to regular self expression, you will begin to shift your energy to joy, feel closer to yourself, and be more willing to go with the flow of the spontaneous and unexpected.
Image credit: Toa Heftiba