Creativity Mindsets & Foundations - 19 min

Creativity Is Universal  

Joyful, heart-alive creative experiences are not just for the artistically-minded or the fortunate few that have time to become masters of their craft. They are for us all. Many of us struggle to embrace our creative nature because of misconceptions and false beliefs, often rooted in limited thinking or comparison. You’re going to learn more about finding and activating your unique, joy-filled expressions in the coming sessions. But, first, we must examine and upgrade our mindsets around creativity. 

Have you  learned negative or limited mindsets regarding your creativity that dismiss or diminish your own potential, skills or talent? Sadly, we are surrounded by words, thoughts, and systems that minimize, attack and question our worth, including our creative nature. Every person has experienced fear or rejection in some way that has negatively affected their expression or understanding of their potential. These painful points can make it easier to focus on our weaknesses and limitations than to recognize our talents, beauty, and strength. New mindsets can jumpstart our creativity. Exploring and expressing positive viewpoints about our creative nature is a powerful tool for replacing negative beliefs and thought patterns with positive ones. 


Redefining Creativity

It’s time to discover and strengthen mindsets and beliefs that support your exploration and expression. Just because you’re not a photographer or sculptor does not mean that you aren’t creative! Don’t allow old boxes or limitations to keep you from celebrating your expressions. Merriam-Webster’s definition of ‘create’ is wider than you might expect:

To create (transitive verb): 

  1. To bring into existence
  2. To invest with a new form, office, or rank
  3. To produce or bring about by course of action or behavior
  4. To cause or occasion
  5. To produce through imaginative skill
  6. To design

Sounds much broader than just painting, poetry, and pottery, right? Think about a few simple things you do every day. Do you make breakfast, or care for your kids, or take a walk with friends? Those are all creative acts. None of the meals you cook, the human beings you’re raising up, and the memories you make would exist without your involvement. Many of the limiting perspectives, fears, anxieties, and stresses we live with come from experiences or beliefs rooted in shame -- e.g., the feeling of not being enough.

Other scholars emphasize this broader definition. Professor Robert E. Franken, author of Human Motivation, defines creativity as “the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others." Michele Root-Bernstein, author of Sparks of Genius, also affirms a wider view: “It's too bad that when considering what endeavors may be creative, people immediately think of the arts,” she writes. “It’s the problem-solving processes they exhibit rather than the content or craft that make them so. Just about anything we do can be addressed in a creative manner, from housecleaning to personal hobbies to work.” 

Think about how your emotions on a given day can swing abruptly into a different experience based on a simple thought or word. Words, thoughts, and beliefs are creative in nature. They bring into being experiences, feelings, responses, and results not previously known or felt: joy, longing, frustration, eagerness, sadness, peace, and much more. Cognitive scientist Art Markman reminds us in the book Tools for Innovation, that “every day, we use language to speak sentences that have never been spoken before. We express thoughts that have never been expressed. All of this is so deeply ingrained that we don't notice how creative it is.”


Overcoming the “Not Enough” Feeling

The sense and belief that we are “not enough” robs every part of our creative journeys. It's hard to invest in life-giving, heart-alive experiences of creativity if you don't believe you're worthy of them. If there are places where the “not good enough” lie is keeping you stuck, ask yourself why. Is it because of an expectation you have put on yourself, or that you feel from others? Are you more comfortable passively not experiencing what you’ve hoped for than risking disappointment, misperception, or failure? Are you worried about messing something up? Your answers might indicate areas of unworthiness, insecurity, and pain waiting to be healed. Don’t be afraid, you’re not alone in this -- we all have them, and we are all on this journey. 

How do we address this toxin? Experiences of connection and acceptance are transformative. Finding relationships and a community in which we can be fully known and loved reminds us tangibly of our worthiness.

Along the creative journey, you’re going to make mistakes, in small or big ways. You can’t grow any other way! You will need to be able to recognize what needs to change while still accepting and loving yourself. 


Positive Viewpoints of Your Creativity

You are designed to enjoy, experience, and create things that represent beauty, wisdom, and goodness in the world. You are worth investing in. You can make powerful choices to have new thoughts about yourself and your creativity. You do not have to measure up to anyone’s standards of excellence or beauty. The very things that have tried to limit or destroy you can become the very areas where beauty, hope, and love are released into the world through you. Don’t give up. 

Read these sentences multiple times, so they sink in. 

  • I am designed to enjoy, experience, and create things that represent beauty and goodness in the world.
  • I am worth investing in. 
  • I make powerful choices to have new thoughts about myself and creativity. 
  • I do not have to measure up to anyone’s standards of creativity.
  • I am willing to go on a journey of learning to receive and walk in compassion, acceptance, and grace. 

Now, say them aloud, until you feel them resonate inside. 

These words can strengthen positive perspectives that help you defeat another expression of shame: the temptation to gauge your value from what you do or create, and what others say about it. The creative process has been painful for many of us because we have tried to use our creativity to demonstrate our worth to ourselves and others. Or, we become hungry and even desperate for external validation and ‘success’ because we feel the need to justify or validate our past decisions to others, especially those who may not have supported us. The need to prove people wrong might motivate action and commitment at times, but it can also rob us of the joy and peace of the creative journey. 

Healthy creativity can flow from knowing that you are already valuable and worthy of what is good. With this approach, you get to create from a place of peace, security, and wholeness that strengthens patience and freedom in the process. Creativity cannot define or secure value and worth, it simply reveals it. You are so much more than your gifting. Experiences of this truth counteract the poisonous voice of shame that tries to impede your creativity. 

References:

Franken, Robert E. Human Motivation. Pacific Grove, Calif: Brooks/Cole Pub. Co, 1994.

Markman, Art; Wood, Kristin L. Tools for Innovation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Root-Bernstein, Robert; Root-Bernstein, Michele. Sparks of Genius. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.