What is your response when presented with an opportunity to be creative? Do you approach the opportunity with open arms – willing and eager to express yourself in a new way? Or, do you run away from the opportunity, telling yourself that you aren’t cut out to express yourself creatively?
I see upwards of 60 clients in art therapy groups each week. More often than not, people enter the room with extreme resistance to art-making, claiming “I’m not creative” immediately upon entering the room, and then proceed to make self-deprecating remarks about their artwork or creative abilities.
Creativity is not a gift that some people have and others don’t. It’s a gift that all of us have, but many of us don’t know how to access it or are out of touch with it. For some, this is because being creative was not useful in the past. For others, it is because we were told that our creativity wasn’t good enough, so we stuffed it down.
When you get in touch with your creativity, the healing that follows is multi-faceted. You will be able to connect with a deep internal wisdom and channel your inner super-powers to increase self-awareness, insight, and problem-solving skills. In addition, you may notice improvements in self-esteem and self-worth and reduce uncomfortable feelings like anxiety and stress. It seems like this is something many of us would welcome with open arms - but, for many people, that door shuts when they tell themselves they aren’t creative.
What if there was a way to unleash your creativity without ever having to risk the possibility of making a mistake? What if there was a way to be creative without fear of judgment from others? What if there was a way to tap into your creativity without even having to pick up a paintbrush, musical instrument, or engage in movement? Would you do it?
Enter The Morning Pages. Take 20-30 minutes when you wake up and write “three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness: ‘Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah…’”
I first heard about this technique when I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I started to write the morning pages and, like many of my clients, I was extremely resistant at first. I recall frequently writing things like “this is dumb. I’m so tired. I have nothing to say.” But, after doing the morning pages for several days, I started to notice that my thought pattern changed. There was more clarity in my writing and I started to work through problems through journaling every morning. I was able to comb through the muck in my head and get to nuggets of wisdom and insight that I may not have reached without clearing my head of all the useless chatter first.
It’s important to note that 1. There is no wrong way to do the morning pages and 2. Nobody is allowed to read your morning pages except you – and, according to Cameron, you shouldn’t even read them yourself for the first eight weeks or so. The morning pages are a tool in helping us learn to silence our inner critic so we can connect with what truly matters (read blog post on the inner critic here).
I admit that I have struggled with doing the morning pages on a regular basis. My inner critic tells me I would rather sleep than tap into my deeper creative potential. However, on days when I do them, I find that I am able to silence that critic in the morning and it stays quiet throughout the day, allowing for increased productivity and less self-judgment on creative ventures. What an amazing feeling!
Even if the morning pages don’t make me the next Picasso, Mozart, or Fosse, I welcome the inner peace and clarity that comes from completing them on a daily basis. I challenge you to incorporate the morning pages into your daily routine for the next seven days as well. Take note of any changes you see. Perhaps, you will open the door to your own creative potential as well.
For more tips and tools on how to unleash your creativity, I recommend learning more about Cameron and The Artist's Way here.
Ready to integrate creativity into your recovery journey? Contact me to schedule your first session.