“I would burst from all of the emotion inside.”
How do you work with your strong emotions? Creative people experience a wide range and depth of intense emotions, and use that wealth of feeling to create artwork and performances.
The idea of overseeing or regulating emotions is not necessarily about suppressing or stifling, but about staying aware and in control of our feelings, to live with a higher level of well-being, and be more creative.
The quote above is from Gloria Reuben, who said: “The thing I love most about acting is that while I am doing a scene, I am allotted all of the freedom to feel. Sometimes, actually I find that most times in life, one is not able to fully express what one feels.
“And I am the kind of person that feels so much that if I didn’t have acting (and music), I would burst from all of the emotion inside!”
[From officialgloriareuben.com; photo from "Lincoln"]
Many creative people are highly sensitive (referred to as HSP, for highly sensitive person or people) – and psychologist Elaine Aron declares that at least one research study shows that HSPs are “more emotional” than others.
She explains, “Humans have to evaluate every situation for whether it is good, interesting, desirable, dangerous, sad, and so forth. If a situation has even a touch of these, it is processed further. This processing can lead to more emotion still. Hence emotion leads to processing and processing often leads to more emotion.
“Since HSPs process everything further, they have to be more emotional–emotion is initiating their processing and is often a consequence of their doing so much processing. By the way, being more emotional does not cause poor decision making. Most of the time emotions improve decisions–we can better appreciate the importance of something and are more likely to act.”
[From her Comfort Zone newsletter post: "Reflections on Research: HSPs Have Stronger Emotional Reactions."
But some kinds of emotion do interfere with our decision-making and other cognitive abilities. Being emotionally out of control happens to everyone to some degree, at times. Emotional self-regulation, managing our feelings in "good" ways, can positively impact how well we can use emotions and ideas in creative expression.
As psychologist Cheryl Arutt points out: "If you are an artist, you are your instrument. The greater access you maintain to yourself, the richer and broader your array of creative tools.
"Learning how to regulate stress and danger, especially how to recognize when we are safe allows us to maintain access to those higher order functions and flexibility of thinking."
She adds, "If we’re lucky, these abilities may have been learned in childhood, but they can also be developed later on with the proper training.
"Rather than shutting down more intense experiences, these emotional 'muscles' and strategies provide the breadcrumb trail to find our way back from intense states, allowing us to visit certain states of mind for creative purposes (or to learn about ourselves), without finding ourselves trapped there."
From her article: Affect Regulation and the Creative Artist.
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Last reviewed: 9 Mar 2013