Archives for Mental Health
Creativity is one of the most joyful and meaningful parts of being alive. And for many people, creative expression is not so much a choice as a spiritual necessity. But creative work can be emotionally challenging and stressful, and we need to renew and reboot to keep pursuing excellence.
What fears can interfere with our creative thinking and creatively expressing ourselves? “The artist begins with a vision — a creative operation requiring effort. Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
How does self esteem impact our lives and creativity? How do traits like egocentrism and narcissism relate to self esteem? In his post here on PsychCentral, Steve Bressert, Ph.D. explains that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is "characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others.
Woody Allen admits he has “a lot of neurotic habits. I don’t like to go into elevators, I don’t go through tunnels, I like the drain in the shower to be in the corner and not in the middle.” With so much psychology related material in the news and culture, we may be especially concerned with whether our behavior is a disorder, or normal - whatever that is - and if our eccentricities can help us be more creative somehow. What about all those "crazy" artists in history?
What emotions and thinking may hold us back from being more creative? The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence article "Creativity, Emotions and the Arts" quoted in Part 2 talks about students holding back from being creative out of concerns "that people might think original ideas are silly" - but this kind of retreating from creative work can apply to us at any age. An example might be Joss Whedon - one of my favorite artists, who has credits as actor, writer, producer and director of movies and TV shows including Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Dollhouse, The Avengers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. etc etc.
Continuing her remarks for the Emotion Revolution Summit at Yale [see Part 1], Lady Gaga noted some of the approaches she has explored to deal with her anxiety and depression, and to enhance her emotional health: "I take anti-depressant medication for it. I have tried to get off of it my doctor always tells me not to, that it's not safe for me to. "Whenever I've tried to I've gotten very neurotic, manic, sick so I have had to study all different types of ways... I started looking into Ayurvedic medicine. I started looking into meditation.
“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!” – Actor Gloria Reuben “I don’t like emotions… For some reason I’m more comfortable in imaginary circumstances.” – Actor William H. Macy Do you remember how much you felt and thought as a child? Probably a lot if you are creative, especially if you are gifted or highly sensitive.
“When we’re sensitive to other people’s emotions and struggles, holidays bring extra challenges." Carol Burbank, Ph.D. continues: "Winter celebrations bring their own craziness, the joy/grief cycle of memory, reunions and rituals that touch everyone to the core. “Just riding our own rollercoaster is enough! But when we are empathic, we sense everyone else’s wild ride, too!"
What gets in the way of our writing? There is no simple answer, of course, but here are some perspectives from accomplished authors on what to be aware of and what to do that may help write more and write better. Stephen King relates an early experience that affected his writing and acceptance of himself as a writer – the kind of experience probably most of us have had to some degree: criticism from his high school teacher. He writes:
"Energy is the key to creativity. Energy is the key to life." William Shatner We need more than ideas to be creative, we need passion and energy. Being productive in most creative ventures takes ongoing motivation and resolve. Some situations and people fuel our emotional energy, and some suck it away. How can we deal with that kind of energy drain?