In week 2 of her creative discovery course The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron helps you discover or rediscover your sense of identity as a creative person. She points out that as we begin to redevelop our creative self, it can feel threatening or erratic. As we begin to nurture our creativity, self-doubt and criticism can potentially derail the process and turn us on ourselves. But if we recognize what is happening, we are able to fight back. Here is a discussion of her take on creativity, self-doubt, and some of our friendships.
Creativity is like a Small Child
If you consider your creativity to be akin to a small child in need of nurturing, then you will immediately understand that it must be treated kindly and kept feeling secure and loved in order to grow and thrive.
Self Doubt for Creative People
Part of instilling that sense of security for your creativity, protecting it so it may grow stronger, depends on recognizing and handling self-doubt. This is that voice in your head questioning why you think you are creative, telling you it will never work, asking what on earth you think you are doing? What makes you think you even have half a chance…?
Such questions, whether they are raised in a persistent little voice or as a smack-down, drag-out walloping kick in the stomach, are your self-doubt (or its cousin self-hate) in action.
Those self-doubting questions and thoughts are encouraged and invited when you hang out with what Cameron terms “Poisonous Playmates.”
Who are your Poisonous Playmates?
Poisonous playmates are typically friends who are also blocked creatives. You know who they are: the very people you tend to hang out and commiserate with, playing all the same old broken records, reminding each other why you can’t create, dragging each other deeper down. Your recovery threatens them. You become evidence, demonstrating how their stated reasons for not creating are false! Ouch.
In self defense, these dear friends may reactivate your own doubts and remind you of all the reasons why not to create (see the big bad list of why’s for not creating for a few if you are not sure what I mean!) and may even try to make you feel guilty for abandoning them! Or point out all the things you should be doing instead of creating!
Cameron calls these friends “toxic.” That’s harsh, until you begin to realize what they are helping you do to yourself. What we do to ourselves is super harsh.
Moving Toward Creative Recovery
Cameron admonishes: “Be gentle but firm, and hang tough. The best thing you can do for your friends is to be an example through your own recovery. Do not let their fears and second thoughts derail you….Your own healing is the greatest message of hope for the others.”
Can you identify some of these blocked-creative friends and damaging relationships in your own life? How about those magnetic but lethal crazymakers, do you have any of those in your life? Think now about how you can maintain a safety zone around your creativity.
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