Can we use our relationship to our art to improve our relationships with people?
Last week I suggested that we start to interact with our art like we might converse with a cherished friend. (How do you treat your art?) Instead of moving straight to evaluation when we are finished with our art, I invited you to ask questions with an open heart and delay the judgement. This way, no matter what our art—whether it is painting, dancing, speaking, therapy, parenting, or __________ (you fill in the blank), we are giving it space and entering into a collaborative relationship. It’s important practice. It’s good practice.
This week, I want to talk about the creative process and its ever changing dynamic.
When we look at the creative process we find that it consists of good feelings and not-so-good feelings. For instance, in order to actually begin making art, we need to be able to tolerate not knowing. We need to be able to hold the anxiety and create despite our doubts that we might not be able to deliver. We also need to become resilient in our reactions to mistakes or failures. When our art doesn’t go as planned, we must be able to adjust our plans or change course rather than quit.
The flexibility that our creative process mandates lends itself to thinking about our relationship with our art (and with people).
Relationships are fluid.
The dynamic collaboration between self and art or self and other is not at all stagnant.
For example, it is rare that I feel great about a painting from start to finish. It is rare that I have 100% good feelings about a therapy session from beginning to end. When we recognize the inherent fluidity of our creativity, we give ourselves the freedom to stay nimble in our reactions and flexible in our thinking.
An Invitation for you:
Try this—put a spotlight on the varied feelings you experience while doing a creative activity.
- Choose an activity: Painting, drawing, a therapy session, writing, etc.
- Use your inner observer: While you are engaged in the creative activity, employ an inner observer to keep track of your feelings. Write them down so you can remember and see very clearly.
- Become aware of the shifts: Notice the subtle and not so subtle changes in reaction, thoughts, feelings. Even if the creative activity doesn’t yield anything extraordinary—even if it is takes you to an unsatisfying finish—note the fluidity of the feelings.
This is the nature of relationships—they are fluid and flexible. This is the nature of creativity—it is ever changing and shifting. This is the nature of therapy—from one moment to the next it is a fluctuating encounter.
Our art invites us to stay in relationship—to not only weather the immutable shifts—but to celebrate them as marks of our creative process. And, hopefully, this also means we can give ourselves a break from the pressure of having to know or get it right so much of the time.
Want some more ideas about how you might honor the fluid nature of the creative process? Read: Value your Art–even the “bad” art.