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Finding Your Creativity

Do you tell yourself that you're not creative? How do you know that is true?

Perhaps it's time for you to consider that you might be blocking your own creative potential with that inner dialogue.

Creativity, it seems, is a highly coveted trait and although it is desired by many you must know that it is not a gift that is given only to the chosen ones, but something that is worked on and nurtured in order to flourish and grow.

If you find yourself wishing that you had creative skills or, if you're really honest with yourself, even at times feeling envious of others that it seems to come naturally to, it might help to know that the people you see as highly creative have very likely worked hard on developing those skills over time.

Let's look first at some things that can quickly kill creative potential.

Impatience: Needing an instant result and feeling like a failure when you don't achieve it can prompt your creativity to run and hide like a frightened animal. Most creatives don't actually get things right on the first go, rather we accept our failures as part of the process and learn from them incrementally.

Fear: Being too caught up in the result rather than enjoying the process can come from a fear-based mentality. Applying pressure to yourself because you feel you need to be perfect from the very beginning is akin to choking the life out of any creative inclination you might have. And to be fair, it's just not realistic to expect perfection without learning or practising.

Entitlement: This one might feel a bit prickly and if so it's possible you can benefit from hearing it. Absolutely no-one is entitled to creativity, you haven't missed out on your serve because you were overlooked by whoever dishes it out. What's far more likely is that you have not kept trying, failing and trying again.

Now let's look some factors that can nurture creativity.

Openness: It sounds quite simple - and it is - however many of us can find it challenging to simply approach things with an open mindset. It means letting go to an extent and accepting that you are not fully in control. Otherwise known as going with the flow, letting go of control can be an incredibly freeing experience if you let it.

Silliness: Being unabashed and unafraid of doing things that can potentially result in failure or judgement from others breathes life into creative potential. Entering a childlike state of play where the usual rules do not apply and results are unimportant sparks imagination and inspiration in all of us.

Willingness & Acceptance: When we are willing to give new things a try, observing and accepting what comes of it, curiosity and problem solving are sparked. It's as simple as: try it, see what happens, observe what action led to which result, then explore different actions to create different results. Following these steps allows us to think rationally and curiously and can eventually lead to surprising and pleasing results.

Consciously adapting our thought process to quiet our negative feelings and increase attentiveness to observation of process is key to allowing skills to develop.

Here is a sample of a thought process that demonstrates this:

Creative person - I have an idea. I want to try this and see how it comes out.

Ok, that didn't work. Which part didn't work? Why didn't it work? Ok, I see what might have gone wrong here so I''ll try a different approach, but look what happened as a result of my mistake. That's interesting. I wasn't expecting that. I quite like it. That gives me an idea...

and so on.

When we disallow negative emotions to cloud our judgement we are able to rationally dissect the process.

Everything we try that doesn't go quite according to plan contains potentially useful information. To access this information we first need to remove the self-judgement from our analysis.

If you can analyse your own work without getting emotionally fraught about it, you can develop your creativity far more fluidly.

If you're thinking this sounds easier said than done, here's a simple trick to overriding the emotional response to failure:

Try something.

It didn't work? Ok.

Say to yourself: Good. Now I know. What shall I try next?

Leave it at that, turning away from any intrusive, self critical thoughts that try to nudge their way in.

Understand that not one of us is born with all the tricks and knowledge at our disposal. Just like life, creativity is learning. One key difference between successfully creative people and others is knowing that there is always more to learn and being willing to take information or even just a different perspective from other people in order to develop a slightly different approach that may lead to very different results.

There we go, that's all I want to say on that today.

In summary; creativity is potential that is developed by working on it and taking enjoyment from that work. It's learning to tune out our inner critic in favour of our inner observer. We all have creative potential, yet not everyone has the willingness or hunger to keep at it. And that's ok. Whichever kind of person you are, know that it takes all sorts to make the world go around and there is a place for you in it.

For those of you who feel the urge to work on your own creativity, do something today. Do it now. You could pick up a pen or pencil and doodle, go for a walk and observe the detail of the world around you, fold some paper and see what shapes come out or anything else you can think of. Start observing and analysing process and result, see what comes of it.

Most of all, allow yourself to enjoy the process and tell that inner critic to pipe down because you are busy doing stuff that doesn't require that kind of language.

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy it and find something to learn from it.

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