That is great advice from Janis Joplin [quoted in the Changing Course newsletter].
But we may do just that: compromise, stifle ourselves, shut down what we are capable of, creatively and in other ways – often based on our self-limiting thinking.
In her book “Revolution From Within,” Gloria Steinem cautioned that neglecting to use our human capacities, out of fear or shame, “leaves a small hole in the fabric of our self-esteem. Think of the times you have said, ‘I can’t write,’ ‘I can’t paint’… Since this was not literally true, you were really saying: ‘I can’t meet some outside standard. I’m not acceptable as I am.’”
[From my article Creating to be authentic, not perfect.]
By definition, a creative project is new, beyond what we have done before – and engaging in a project, or even thinking about it, can raise fear alarms.
“You may feel like dwelling on your limits or your fears. Don’t do it,” warns Marsha Sinetar.
“A perfect prescription for a squandered, unfulfilled life is to accommodate self-defeating feelings while undercutting your finest, most productive ones.” [From her book “To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love.”]
It may be all too easy to fall into that sort of self-limiting attention on what is deficient or inadequate about us and our abilities, especially if you have a tendency toward self-criticism or perfectionism. And maybe it’s worse if we are highly sensitive.
Another way to undercut our creative potential is to assume a defeatist, negative attitude about so-called failures, rather than seeing the values in those experiences.
One of the enduring icons of achievement is the Wright brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk; but before that event were many designs that didn’t work.
In school, we may have been taught that it took Thomas Edison 10,000 “failures” to invent a durable electric light bulb. But especially in this era, it seems, if a creative idea doesn’t gain “viral” acclaim right away, it must be a “failure” – so discard it.
As Guy Finley of the Life of Learning Foundation says, “The only time we ever ‘fail’ at anything in our lives is when we walk away from a challenge before we’ve allowed it to teach us its lessons.”
Our minds can develop engineering projects, medical advances, and all sorts of artwork – but also creates self-limiting perceptions, attitudes, beliefs.
In his article Everyone Knows You Can’t Eliminate Beliefs Permanently… Are You Sure?, Morty Lefkoe notes “a belief is a statement about reality we think is the truth. It’s a fact. The way we think the world really is. And, the way we think the world really is determines how we act, how we feel, how we perceive life.”
He developed the ReCreate Your Life process to help people change beliefs that limit their lives – and creative expression. It might be worth trying the free sample of the program.
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