Rebuilding Trust With Your Creative Spirit
If you’re a human being, it’s likely that somewhere in your past, you were a free spirit. Most kids are. They have room in their lives and schedules to run and play, they even have a whole period of their school day dedicated just for play. Much of early education is about imagination and creativity. What kids create is celebrated. Children are lauded for being truth tellers, creative geniuses, renaissance people!
Then, the adult world hits. Reality sets in. We no longer have space for our creativity, but we yearn for it — because this part of ourselves is where we are truly at home.
As a life coach, many of my clients hire me specifically to change something in their lives that they can’t figure out on their own. But one of the most common themes I find is they also just want to “feel like themselves again.” They want to return to that experience of being confident, fully expressed, noisy, creative, emotionally messy . . . otherwise known as free.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to get those parts of you back, let’s give the inner child genius within us some recognition. Look back with me. How do you identify with your confident, childlike self?
For me, I am the oldest of three children, a Leo, and I spent most of my childhood feeling like I ran the show. My parents were into music and theater, so we were constantly singing, creating, putting on shows; I bossed around my younger sister and brother and choreographed and told them where to be and what to do. In school, I was bullied, but I knew I was safe in the art and music rooms, and later in middle school, got into the drama club. In my head, I was “the one who takes up space.” I was entitled, it just was my right as a human being on this planet. I invented. I loved my voice. I loved my body, I loved playing outside, I embraced the sheer joy of performing the same Disney song over and over for hours.
Down the line, I started getting pushback. While working on my first book, Human Beans, I was able to pinpoint a couple of specific times where my freedom and genius felt shut down by external forces (people, structures, plays I didn’t get into, teachers telling me to be quiet, other students who gaffed at my excitement, rules that stifled my creativity, male-dominated environments — no disrespect, but you y’all really need to listen better when you are the majority!).
As I grew up, I started pre-shutting it down. If you’re reading this, you probably know what I mean. Self-censoring. When we get weary of being shut down or rejected by others, we get a step ahead of them. It’s a power move. We shut ourselves down first.
And for many of us — especially those who had creative backgrounds and ambitions earlier in life — that is where we sadly stop. We start to associate creating with pain.
The part that nobody will actually talk about is the real core of this issue for most of us. Yes, it’s easy to be like, “take up a hobby! It will make you feel better!” Or I know a lot of coaches who make the promise that you will “feel joy again!”
But you have to actually do the hard work first.
Giving up your creative dreams is like having your heart broken on two levels. As a Theater Major, the moment you decided you weren’t going to keep auditioning, you got your heart broken and broke it yourself. It’s like the lover who breaks up with us because they love us too much and can’t bear it anymore.
Any coach or therapist could tell you that the end of a relationship can feel like a death. My guess is you don’t need us to tell you that — you probably know from your own experience. So, imagine the real, true impact of giving up on your own dream, one that you’d probably had since you were that child.
It’s a breakup. It’s the end of that relationship.
Did you give yourself time to mourn?
Have you had the space to heal?
Did you rebound from it, only to find your heart was just lonely and totally needs space to heal and make sad playlists on Spotify?!!?!?
Probably not. You probably stuffed it down and made it look like it was okay, or got a solid job so you could have stable income and feel like a productive member of society who can provide for herself. I commend you for that! Get those basic needs met! Provide for yourself! Channel your talents and allow yourself to succeed!
And… there is probably an immensely talented, expressive voice inside of you that is aching to be heard.
If this article is speaking to you, it is time to listen to her again.
Though I recommend taking on a project with your own coach around this — because it is overhauling parts of your adult life that are automatic, and that is challenging stuff to do on your own— here are some places to start:
- Cultivate a new relationship with your inner genius. Spend some time meditating on the childlike, imaginative parts of you. They are still in there, they have just been, errrr, napping for a long time.
- Forgive & Acknowledge Yourself. You will want to skip this step, but it’s crucial.
- Commit to trusting your creativity again. This is an active choice — you will make the commitment up front, but you will have to choose it again every day.
- Actually practice and demonstrate that trust. You can do this by creating something. Play one song on the piano each day, just because you said so. Set a timer, sit down, and write whatever falls out of your brain for fifteen minutes in the morning. This is simply rebuilding a muscle that you haven’t worked for a long time.
- Embrace your resistance. You will resist, but the path is not around the resistance, it’s through it.
The real deliciousness of this process happens after you actively practice this over a long period of time. Can you imagine — if you did trust your creativity again, if you really embraced it, what would be possible? At home, at work? In your relationships?
Allowing space for this conversation is the true magnificence of creative genius.
I can’t wait to see what you create from here.