Blocked Creativity and Blocked Emotions
My experience of creative blocks is that usually a feeling is arising to be seen that will not allow me to move forward until I acknowledge it. I find when I am dealing with darker emotions, all of my creativity goes into this something that wants to be known.
If you are feeling blocked creatively, what stands between you and your most spontaneous and joyful creativity is your own unacknowledged emotional pain. There is no shame in this. This is our human condition. Most of us hold onto many layers of emotional pain that we can put no name to.
Many of us can recall no obvious trauma when we were children so as to pinpoint why we suffer so much. Yet we suffer as adults. We so feel often feel unnameable angst, depression, grief, fear and anger as we navigate through our daily life.
Difficult emotions arise frequently in our day to day to be accepted, loved and embraced but often we ignore the signals. Any time you catch yourself holding your breath for example, you are repressing an emotion. Every time you feel any tightness in your body, you are holding back an uncomfortable feeling.
Every time you become lost in thinking about how you need to change your life, you are likely avoiding something difficult inside. In fear and recoil we can habitually and reflexively reject our uncomfortable feelings over and over again throughout our lives.
But before we can become free, joyful and spontaneous creators in the world we have to allow our creative blocks take us where they want us to go - and that is into our own acceptance and inclusion of our darker and more repressed feelings. When we are not integrated within, the creative process faithfully brings up unknown feelings to be seen, felt and integrated.
To not run away from these unruly feelings is a courageous and creative act. To turn towards our difficult feelings with love and curiosity is to live a powerful life. To include uncomfortable emotions into our conscious awareness is to free up new energy and a creative intelligence that has been stagnant and unused since childhood.
The Inner Child is the Key to our Creative Blocks
As children we emotionally imprint upon our parents and we take on the heaviness of their emotional world. We literally absorb the emotional struggles, and the disowned and repressed feelings of our caregivers. Until we integrate all that we could not feel and accept in childhood we will walk around emotionally as children in our adult bodies, as David Hawkins writes:
"Physical appearance is a great deceiver. Most people look like adults but are not really adults at all. Emotionally, most people are children. The emotions and attitudes that prevail in kindergarten and on the playground continue on into adult life. Within most people is a child who is merely imitating being an adult. The 'inner child' is actually not inner at all, it is actually quite outer."
The simple reason why we stay at the emotional level of children is we rarely examine the childhood beliefs that we filter our perceptions of the world through. We most often stay patterned in the beliefs that we laid down as children, repeating the same kinds of feelings as we did when we were little.
Spiritual teacher Michael Brown explains this process of our inner child inside our adult body so eloquently:
"Experientially it is in the first seven years, any and all uncomfortable experience arising from our entry into the conditional world are imprinted into and affect the condition of our emotional body. Our emotional body is therefore where the record of these occurrences is kept."
Children literally soak up the emotional soup around them. I remember an instance many years ago of sitting on the sofa and noticing the synchronicity of my emotionality with my child's. My four year old daughter was in the next room, in our old claw foot tub taking a bath. The house was silent and suddenly I felt a sharp loneliness strike my heart. Just at that moment, my daughter in the next room cried out, "Mommy! My heart feels like it is falling out of my chest with loneliness!"
In my study of family system therapy I have come to understand that whatever our parents and ancestors cannot deal with emotionally falls upon the next generation's shoulders to feel, process and integrate. This is how we evolve as family groups. We are all an integral part of a larger whole of healing. We do not suffer alone. Everyone suffers in some way. We are not crazy. We are sensitive human beings. We are all part of a larger family group evolving and healing.
I have often felt the pain of my mother and father as if it were my own. We can often feel the unhealed traumas, losses and disappointments of the previous generations in our family because we are all joined. So to try to pin our uncomfortable feelings on a specific trauma from childhood, or to always look for some kind of childhood story of abuse, is often much too simplistic. As human beings we suffer on a deep level for all of those who have come before us. We suffer for all those in our family who did not know how to handle their emotional pain.
On a deep level we are angry that we were not unconditionally loved as children, and this anger can saliently block our creativity and our forward creative movement. We can feel frustrated that we regularly compromised our truth and our authenticity. We became inauthentic in childhood to belong, but now it is our task and our purpose as mature adults to find out who we really are.
We move through our creative blocks by loving ourselves unconditionally. We do this by feeling everything deeply. And in that intensely loving fire of attention to all that we have denied inside of ourselves, we come to know ourselves and our purpose profoundly. Loving all that is repressed and rejected in our unconscious mind is evocative of the mother holding her child in the collage at right with such tender awareness. With unwavering attention and determination she vows to never abandon her crying child. We need to treat ourselves in this same reverent way.
It is all to easy when we feel uncomfortable feelings to become the opposite of loving towards ourselves. Usually we put ourselves down and start mentally punishing ourselves for not feeling happy. We wonder what is wrong with us. We tell ourselves that we are no good, or substandard as a human being for feeling the way that we do. We punish our shadow parts that are simply trying to come into the light to be seen and included and learned from.
Perhaps one of the most creative things life accomplishments that we can we can focus on is to learn how to love ourselves unconditionally. To love ourselves means loving what feels hard and painful inside - unconditionally - without thinking or reacting. It does not matter what comes up - we attend to it with tender and exquisite attention. Every feeling holds messages and gifts embedded within it no matter how difficult it feels.
Becoming Strongly Present to Your Emotional Pain
Often inner pain can take over our entire life for a time. It can become so big, we can barely think, function, work, or relate to other people. We think we have to get rid of our pain. But presence to our emotional pain is nothing more than learning to become more largely loving than the pain. Becoming larger and stronger than your pain does not heal your pain - it is still there - but because it is loved and accepted with such inner strength, it integrates into your larger being. This is how we grow up. This is how we mature ourselves into contributing, creative adults.
We do this presence work by touching our inner pain with awareness - tapping it lightly at first - taking breaks when it hurts too unbearably. We then effort to sustain loving attention to our emotional pain for longer periods of time until we learn how to become consistently larger than it. As we grow psychologically stronger, the pain passes through our being at a faster rate and we are no longer mired in emotional difficulty for such long periods of time.
Inner child drawings are a profound way to access aspects the emotionally arrested childhood and teenage parts of your psyche that you may not normally pay attention to. All of us have many inner children that became hurt and that separated away from our conscious awareness. If they remain unconscious, they can affect our emotional and physical well-being.
Doing this process 30 times or more can help you see where you are magical, peaceful, spontaneous, angry, spoiled, or are sacrificing yourself so that other people do not have to feel their own pain.
And under all of these psychical inner child structures are feelings that the inner child is trying to change, feel better about, or reconcile.
Inner child drawings are typically done with your non-dominant hand. Buy yourself a box of kid's crayons and a special sketchbook. Artist Heather Williams, author of Drawing as a Sacred Activity has an excellent exercise to help access your inner child that I will share with you. It takes 30 days of daily drawing either in the morning or the evening.
Daily Inner Child Exercise
1.Relax and breathe with your paper and crayons in front of you.
2. Close your eyes and see or feel a child near you. Notice the color or her/his hair, notice the height, posture and clothing. Open your heart and feel yourself accepting this child exactly as she/he is, even if the child is angry sad or frightened.
3. Ask the child to play a game with you. The adult in you will ask the child 3 questions. What is your name? What are you feeling right now? What can I do to help you feel really good?
4. Let the child draw a picture of for you and answer the questions using crayons and your non-dominant hand.
5. Thank the child for sharing with you.
Note: I often change this exercise as I find it a profound way to get to know renegade, shadow, inner child parts that made decisions for me a long time ago, that I might not be conscious of. Sometimes we have well-meaning but less mature parts of our minds running the show that are not making the best decisions for our current adult, mature needs. I ask my inner child parts these questions:
What is your name?
How old are you?
What is your purpose?
Keep asking for the purpose that your inner child has for you until the purpose becomes positive. For example, your inner child may say, I want you to be sick." Ask your inner child, "Why do you want me to be sick?" Every part of our inner child has a positive intention, even if it is to make you ill so that you will get the attention that you need.
Feeling what is arising inside of you, without trying to change it, is the most profoundly courageous thing you can do as human being. Feeling difficult feelings can become an art form where you exquisitely attend to your inner state with consistent and continual loving attention. As you do, your attention grows more subtle and creative, and you begin to understand that your inner pain is revealing messages to help you step forward in your life.
We grow in power and presence when we are able to feel our emotional pain without spinning off into thinking, doing, blaming and projecting our inner emotions outwards and away from inner inclusion and integration. My experience of not projecting a feeling out of my body is that it starts to seethe and boil in often an intensely uncomfortable way. We can learn how to attend to this intensity of feeling with love before we start creating the outer dramas that we normally engage in.
So many of us think that we have to get a feeling "out" of our body and so we live our lives trying to find ways to be finished with our emotional pain, to get it all out, and be done with it forever, when in truth any kind of drama to "release" feelings is often unnecessary. All your feelings need is to be accepted and integrated within the larger container of your mature, witnessing, unconditionally loving awareness.
Integration and Maturity
Growing ourselves into maturity simply means being able to be strongly present and be available to life as it is showing up right now - no matter how uncomfortable it feels. It is from this arising reality that we maturely create our lives. After you integrate a repressed or difficult feeling - after you have accepted and loved a disowned part of yourself - life feels newly whole again. When we recover our lost parts of self, we become more intelligent, more alive and more creative. We realize that the feelings we have been using all of our energy to repress and deny have gifts, strengths and new insights hidden inside of them.
When we can stay open and available to life as it is, we have more creative insight. New strengths and gifts are birthed to bring to our everyday living. The best part of loving what arises inside of you, is that you learn to love others maturely, deeply and profoundly. What you accept in yourself, you accept in other people and suddenly your life - as it is - begins to work better. From this place of self-acceptance, love and trust, a spontaneous and flowing creativity abounds that truly contributes to all of life.