Do you know what it feels like to be in creative flow?
Here’s how it feels to me. It’s a feeling in my body. It feels like I’m lighter. I feel a release, as if I were confined before, and now I’m suddenly free.
Creative flow for me is a feeling of openness, expansiveness, and “anything is possible”-ness. It’s how I’m feeling when I tell you I’m “in the zone”.
Creative flow is the most amazing, productive feeling I know.
But it’s also a feeling we sometimes unwittingly stop dead in its tracks.
So many of us talk about our creative blocks as if they’re something that has happened to us. Kind of like an unwanted relative who’s decided to drop by without warning. We believe we have nothing to do with a creative block showing up at our door.
We’re in creative flow, day after day, and then, suddenly, “out of the blue”, our creativity hits a wall. Our ideas stop flowing. We sit, feeling pressured or helpless, staring at a blank piece of paper.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel as though creative blocks are something that happens to me. I don’t want to think that I’m powerless to overcome a creative block. I don’t want to spend my time feeling helpless and hoping the block will go away.
Here’s what I’ve decided to believe instead. I believe that WE CAUSE our creative flow to stop.
I love this way of thinking, because if we’re the ones who cause our own creative blocks, then it’s also within our power to get unstuck.
I believe there’s one weapon we’re almost always employing against ourselves when we encounter a creative block. It’s a weapon that never fails to injure our creative spirit, and sometimes mortally wounds it for a long period of time.
That weapon we turn against ourselves is self-judgement.
Notice that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to feel judgement while we’re in creative flow. Judgement and flow are opposites. They never co-exist.
Imagine this scenario. You’ve been out walking in nature. You’re feeling in harmony with the world.
You come back inside and take out a pen and paper. You’ve spent weeks asking yourself what new ideas could best take your business forward. You feel open and light after your walk. You look at the blank sheet of paper. You feel something bubbling up. You start to write.
If you keep writing whatever emerges, you’re almost guaranteed to write something that is so insightful, wise, and brilliant, that when you read it later, you pleasantly surprise yourself. You didn’t know you had such an amazing idea within you. The idea surfaced because your state of creative flow gave you access to ideas you didn’t even realize were in your brain.
Now imagine, instead, that as you write, some thoughts start to surface. Thoughts like these:
- Who am I kidding? I’m too new at this.
- I need to take a course/read that book/put in 1,000 more hours before what I do will be good enough.
- People will think my idea is crazy. I’ve never seen anyone else do something like this.
- I’m not sure I’ve got this right.
- I’m not sure this is good.
- What if X doesn’t like it? I should have X vet it first.
- Y said my idea should have A, B, C in it. But this is D. I should start again.
- I’m not so sure.
- I’ll think about this later.
- I need to change this before I put it out there.
- I’ll ask Z what he thinks.
- This could be so much better.
- I’m getting too big for my britches here. Who am I to say this?
- I’m not sure what people will think.
- I’m not sure this is a good idea.
You get the idea.
All these thoughts come from a place of negative self judgement. You’re telling yourself YOU aren’t good enough. You don’t know enough. Your WORK isn’t good enough. You need to follow the crowd. You need other people to approve. You need to follow the rules. You need to toe the line.
When you think these thoughts, how do you feel?
Here’s how I’d feel if I were thinking along those lines. I’d be feeling uncertain, hesitant, confused, shy, embarrassed, or some combination of those feelings. I’d be feeling limited and constrained. I’d be feeling inadequate.
I would definitely not be feeling courageous or expansive or innovative or open or light. I’d be experiencing feelings that are the exact opposite of what it feels like to be in creative flow. I
If I practice these beliefs long and hard enough, I might find myself creatively blocked. I’ll certainly find myself creatively limited, as compared to what was possible for me.
I will have used self judgment to successfully block my creativity. And as long as I continue the negative self judgments, I’ll find it impossible to move back into creative flow.
Turns out that knowing this is really good news.
Once you notice how your thoughts are causing your creative blocks, you can start practicing awareness. You can start catching those thoughts when they begin. You can practice thoughts that quickly move you back into creative flow.
Here are some thoughts I’ve found helpful when I’m trying to create something and notice I’m drifting into negative self judgment. I deliberately switch to thoughts like these:
- There’s no such thing as a wrong way to do this.
- There’s an endless flow of creative ideas inside me that are waiting to come out.
- We are all born creatively equal.
- I can make the most impact by doing things a new way.
- I’m ready to entertain whatever comes up.
- I choose to always have my own back.
- I’m not longer available for negative self talk.
- I believe I have something valuable to offer.
- My new way of doing things is exactly what my people are searching for.
- I can respect other people’s opinions AND still choose something different that feels better to me.
- At the end of the day, I get to decide what works best for me and what doesn’t
- Whenever I do X, I always go into creative flow.
- I can always choose to relax into a creative state.
- I never have to follow the rules; I’m free to pick what serves me and what doesn’t.
- It’s so fun to break the rules!
- My body always tells me the best thing for me to do.
- I’m the source of my own creative flow.
- My ideas are inherently worthy.
- It’s OK if I do things my way.
- It’s OK if some people don’t like what I do.
- My people are waiting for me to do things my way.
- My original ideas are the best thing that comes out of me.
- I can always create something new if I ask my brain the right questions and give it the freedom to come up with new ideas.
- My new idea will help at least one person.
I’ve found that the more I practice these ideas, the more easily I move naturally and directly into a state of creative flow.
I’d love to hear what happens when you try practicing one or more of these thoughts, or other thoughts you come up with on your own. Our reactions are highly individual, and you’ll find that you respond better to some thoughts than others. To test the usefulness of a thought, say it to yourself and then observe the sensations in your body, or the emotions that surface. Do you feel a sense of opening up or a closing? Does the thought fill you with possibility or does it feel unbelievable? Test out different thoughts until you find the thoughts that work best to help you move into creative flow. The more you practice the new thoughts, the quicker you’ll be back in the zone.
So please have your own back and offer the world your creative brilliance!
If you’d love to learn how to become creatively powerful in any area of your life, sign up for a one-hour free private strategy session. We’ll discuss your creative issues and challenges, whether they relate to a new business idea or a personal creative project. I’ll share with you some observations about what I see happening below the surface and how to change it. Then we’ll explore whether the deeper work in my Creative Expansion one-on-one coaching program could help you open yourself to a whole new level of creativity. Either way, you’ll end the call with an enhanced appreciation of what you’re truly capable of creating. To sign up, use this link: https://gracedcanvascalendar.as.me/freestrategysession.