April 20, 2016

Letting go of Shame to Find our Creative Voices.

Alena Getman/ Flickr

Many of us don’t make time for creativity, or even fear it—so we avoid it entirely.

Could it be that we think prioritizing creativity is frivolous or could we be carrying underlying wounds of shame from our childhoods with respect to creative self-expression?

Society clearly places more emphasis on financial success, roles, responsibilities, and careers than self-expression. This often results in decisions which park the creative for another time: when we retire, when our kids are grown up and don’t need us anymore…

In a captivating interview between Elizabeth Gilbert and Brené Brown, called “Big Strong Magic—Creative Living Beyond Fear,” Brene shares her journey to discovering her own creativity, how it transformed her life, work, relationship to herself and others and, ultimately, her contribution to the world. Brené describes how she moved away from being a “creative martyr” where creativity emerges through suffering and isolation, to a “creative trickster” which is when one learns that the creative process can be fun, energizing, and inspire community.

In the past, had Brené been asked to talk about her views on creativity, she would have responded with, “I don’t have time for art because I have a job.” However, her new-found perspective is that “the only unique contribution we will make in this world will be born out of creativity…we are all creative, some of us are just not using it.”

Is there a creative force within you longing to burst free?

Creativity is an expression of your authentic self. Without this self-expression, each of us is dying a little bit at a time. Brené discovered that 85 percent of people carried shame around an event in their lives and that 50 percent of those people had shame wounds specifically around creativity.

She asserts that the antidote to shame is self-compassion and empathy. We shift our thinking and social valuing of the arts and artists who enrich our lives with music, beauty, and thoughtful entertainment. Our happiness depends on it!

My Shame Wounds.

When I dug deeper and thought about my shame wounds, and where I held back my creative expression, I realized that in my early childhood I placed limitations on myself and I rarely felt secure breaking beyond those imagined boundaries.

As an identical twin, I labeled myself as the sensible, non-creative sister, especially because my twin was pursuing and expressing her artistic talents freely. I chose the business route and studied commerce, while my twin studied interior design. I have felt intimidated my entire life to pick up a paint brush or to draw.

Could this fear be tackled after all this time? Was there a benefit to doing so?

Only recently, through the encouragement of those closest to me, did I begin expressing my creativity. I began to notice how I engage in creativity through home decorating, wardrobe choices, cooking, and the care I take in presenting meals to family and friends. This was a revelation to me—I realized if I wasn’t able to share this part of myself, it would be as if this part of me was dead. I also realized the joy and freedom I felt when I invited my entire self to participate in the idea of who I am and what I am capable of.

I’ve registered for a yoga/art retreat this May and I noticed I was having an aversion to the “art” component of the weekend. Upon closer inspection I found I was nervous about failing or not being good enough.

Failure & Creativity.

This had me reflect on the conversation between Elizabeth and Brené about failure and its relationship to creativity. They asked, “what if we started asking ourselves what is worth doing even if we fail? And what do we love to do so much that we don’t care if we fail?”

It helped me realize that this upcoming weekend can help me heal my shame wounds around art. More importantly, who says what I produce will be a failure? Can any art be a failure? No! As Elizabeth espouses, “it’s usually our own voices in our head that are our worst critics…and the thing we are most afraid of has already happened.”

Creativity is more about who we are and not what we do. What if as a society we placed more value on who we are versus what we do? Imagine if each of us were able to share more of our souls with each other. What would that be like for us individually as well as collectively?

Some Ideas for Tapping into Your Own Creativity.

Start by broadening your definition of creativity. Creativity is anything that allows your soul to express itself. For some it could be through carpentry, architecture design, multimedia, fashion, home design, drawing, painting, cooking, performance art—the list is nearly endless.

For me, creativity has come in a variety of forms:

  • As an instructional designer, I have been creative in how I approached the design of training programs—having fun with finding creative ways for students to learn.
  • In my wardrobe choices
  • In my cooking and presentation of food
  • In my writing. Writing blogs is a new-found creative outlet where I tap into a whole other part of myself. It’s where I share my authentic and give voice to my soul.
  • Colouring books have been another great source of creative expression. Especially since I had labeled myself as “non-creative.”  Having the parameters of the picture already created allowed me to be playful ; I noticed as I completed several pictures, I became more daring with the way I approached my colouring.

Have a go at allowing your creativity to evolve naturally—in specific activities or even just in everyday life, without judgement or expectations. Just have fun with it.

There’s nothing more freeing from shame and doubt, no better way to root out limiting self-beliefs that no longer serve us than discovering our own unique creative gifts in a playful and open way, and bringing our authentic self-expression and soul to the forefront.

“You are born a maker; we need what you can bring to us because you are the only one who can bring it.” ~ Brené Brown

Relephant read:

21 Quotes to Soothe our Souls & Reignite the Coals of our Creativity.


Author: Andrea Shalinsky

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Alena Getman/ Flickr


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