[See Part 2]
“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything…whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”
Helping ourselves get as free as possible to create can take many forms, of course. Including, for Tina Turner and many other people, getting out of a destructive relationship.
Psychologist Cheryl Arutt believes “the best way to protect the art is to protect the artist.
“Learning how to regulate internal states, how and when to use self-soothing techniques, and how to know when we are actually safe — these are key to emotional well-being for anyone, but for artists, they are especially useful.”
She adds, “The ability to self-regulate provides an all-access pass for traveling the internal world, allowing the artist to mine for the gems that can be found there… without losing touch with the light of day.”
From her article: Affect Regulation and the Creative Artist.
Psychologist Elaine N. Aron notes that “Emotional regulation” is a “fancy psychological term that refers to any method that you might try, consciously or not, to change the otherwise spontaneous flow of your emotions.
“By this definition, you might want to increase, prolong, or decrease a feeling. Because the human brain is designed to do this quite well, and the HSP’s [highly sensitive person] brain even more so, you already know quite a bit about emotional regulation, just by having lived awhile. But it never hurts to make it more conscious.”
She notes that emotional regulation “is a broad topic, as almost anything can increase, prolong, or shorten an emotion.”
This is a helpful point: to be creative, we want to be aware of feelings, and do something about ones like intense anxiety or anger that can interfere with our lives (both inner and outer); we may also want to increase positive feelings, or change our attitudes about so-called “dark” emotions.
For more, see my posts:
Dr. Aron writes, “To increase or prolong an emotion, mostly we need to continue to think about or stay mentally or physically near what started it. Keep mulling it over. It also helps to be feeling it with someone else who also wants to increase or prolong it, as when we are laughing together or crying together.”
She adds, “The most familiar ways for decreasing emotions mentally are distraction and redirecting or reframing your thoughts about what is happening. Almost any physical change, which changes your bodily state, changes your emotions: meditation, exercise, eating, drinking or taking other ‘mood altering’ medications and substances.
“You can and do use social means as well: Telling someone else how you feel often decreases the feeling in the long run, but so does deliberately going out among people with whom you habitually hide your deeper feelings. It’s a long list, but since stopping certain emotions is frequently our desire, there are always more tricks to learn…”
Read more in her newsletter post A Few Suggestions for “Regulating” Fear, Grief, Anger, and Joy.
Doc Childre, founder of the Institute of HeartMath, thinks “Emotions are the next frontier to be understood and conquered. To manage our emotions is not to drug them or suppress them, but to understand them so that we can intelligently direct our emotional energies and intentions…
“It’s time for human beings to grow up emotionally, to mature into emotionally managed and responsible citizens. No magic pill will do it.”
The Institute of HeartMath developed the biofeedback program emWave Desktop Stress Relief System.
I used biofeedback a number of years ago, when it required more elaborate and expensive equipment. The process basically involves using a device to detect physiological states such as brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance and heart rate, and display those states using sound and/or images, allowing you to more consciously control these reactions, and thus reduce anxiety, for example.
Doc Childre is also the co-author of the book Overcoming Emotional Chaos – “Emotional stress is not going to go away. We need to raise our emotional set point – our threshold of emotional overreaction – and we can, once we understand how.”
“Snap out of it. There’s a name for this – it’s called guilt, and it’s important – but it’s only a feeling.”
– Willow [Alyson Hannigan] to Buffy in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Jonathan Kaplan PhD notes “Mindfulness can help us navigate through troubled emotional times. We develop an ability to watch and observe our feelings without getting caught up in them.
“We can identify the external cues associated with a particular emotion as well as our internal experience of it. As we become aware of the thoughts, actions, and physical feelings associated with an emotion, we also cultivate our ability to get some distance from it.”
From his post Mindful in the City.
He is author of Urban Mindfulness: Cultivating Peace, Presence, and Purpose in the Middle of It All.
Article: Psychotherapist Sarah Chana Radcliffe on technologies for growth – She talks about approaches including Tapping or Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and Holosync audio CDs.
Book: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, by Daniel Goleman — “Marshaling emotions in the service of a goal is essential for paying attention, for self-motivation and mastery, and for creativity. Emotional self-control – delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness – underlies accomplishment of every sort.”
In his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, Eric Maisel, PhD suggests several affirmations or “thought substitutes” such as: “My body may be acting up, but I am all right; My emotions may be acting up, but I am all right; I write, but I am not my current novel; Whatever happens, the essential me will be fine.”
Article: Emotion Regulation: The 25th Character Strength, by Laura L.C. Johnson, from Positive Psychology News Daily. – “Your interpretation – either positive or negative – can influence your emotions and aftereffects, physical sensations and behaviors. One way to regulate your emotions is to be mindful of how you interpret situations.”
CD program: Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression — Author Elisha Goldstein, PhD notes: “With things like depression or anxiety oftentimes people have certain styles of thinking, like catastrophizing, which is this idea that we are always expecting disasters, something terrible is going to happen from some little event that happens. We really blow it up and magnify it and this tends to amplify our anxiety.”