This post is in response to chapter 7 of 12 secrets Of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin and the topic this week has to do with guides. The question posed is " How are we guided, who guides us and where does guidance come from? What kind of creative guidance do we need so that our creativity can grow and thrive and how do we get it?"
One of the things that struck me about this chapter was that Gail interviewed a number of women who were creatively flourishing. And when they told their stories they attributed a great deal of their success to their supportive and creatively rich family backgrounds.
Most of us are not so fortunate. Many of the creative people I know are wrestling with deep wounds to their creativity and self esteem either because of neglect - their creativity was just not seen or valued - or outright abuse. Which leaves them very hungry for external approval and also particularly vulnerable to criticism.
I am involved with various circles of artists, healers and other highly sensitive types and I often hear people talking about how much they are struggling to recover from probably unintended, but still very hurtful, critical remarks about their creative expressions. So this post is a bit of a plea and a public service announcement for how to best care for the creative people in your life - even if that person is you!
Yes, it’s certainly a good idea for the artist’s themselves to learn how to not jump to the bait and swallow these toxic messages whole. But that is another post.
What I want to address here is the issue of what Gail McMeekin is calling guidance. And what I think of as encouragement and support. In my experience we don't need to be guided around our creativity as much as we need to just make room for it and to find safe and nurturing environments where it can begin to blossom on it's own.
We need to realize that we have a powerful effect on each other. How we speak and the kinds of things that are said can make a huge difference in someone's creative life. I can't tell you how many stories I hear from people about how easily their creativity got shut down. Often all it took was one remark. One nasty comment. A conversation filled with grilling and doubting questioning. The anxiety masquerading as concern.
If you don't think that you yourself are creative ( and that is a WHOLE other conversation) please be careful and gentle with your creative brethren. They are baring their hearts. And souls. They are being very courageous in exposing themselves this way. And they are very sensitive. If their creativity scares or threatens you, please don't take it out on them. Your seemingly innocent comments have a huge impact. All of this stuff that you say goes in. And it goes in deep.
If any of you reading this are saying out loud or to yourself, “Well, you really shouldn't be so sensitive”, please. Stop it. Right now. You are that sensitive. We are all that sensitive. It's time to stop telling yourself that particular lie.
It matters. It matters a lot how we treat each other around our creativity. So be gentle. Be kind. Be supportive. Always. We have so much power to affect each other. When we put something out into the world, what we want more than anything is love, appreciation and applause. And when we get that, we glow. Our creativity blossoms and blooms into it's rightful, riotous self.
We need to be stewards of each others creative gifts. When we encounter someone’s creative expression we need to learn to have our first response be a big "Yes". Creativity thrives on yes. It thrives on acceptance and love and kindness. When we are loved as our creative selves we can move creative mountains. We are constantly expressing ourselves and we will do that with greater and greater confidence and joyful enthusiasm if we know that someone has our back.
I run women's creativity groups and have seen how a steady diet of genuine creative encouragement is magic. Utter and complete magic. In a situation where they can count on consistent and heartfelt support I've witnessed people coming back from the dead creatively. The paralysis slowly disappears and creative thawing leads to creative growth. It’s a tremendous gift that we can give to each other, this ongoing practice of believing in someone else more than they can often believe in themselves.
So how can we offer creative guidance? It helps to remember how much potential we have to both hurt and heal. And to try not to forget that one of our jobs is to be lights for each other. Beacons along the creative path. And that we are ultimately all guides for each other. All the time.
I also want to make an announcement which is that I have a Painting From The Wild Heart weekend workshop coming up soon. The dates are March 13-15 and it will be held here at my Creative Juices Arts studio in Oakland. If you live in the area or know someone in the San Francisco Bay Area who might be interested please pass the word along. There is also affordable lodging close to the studio so out of town students are more than welcome!