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Create or not to Create

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Article by Emelisa Mudle

To Create or not to Create – Embracing the Critic in us

For many people, exploring a creative avenue, such as picking up a paintbrush to paint, isn’t an easy task.  The fear of failure gets in the way.  The perfectionist takes control and in the “mind’s eye, we fear that, whatever I do will not be “good enough”.

I am speaking from experience.  Eleven years ago I took a leap and started a course in “Fine Art”.  I remember that the teacher of the painting class said to us, “Okay everyone, grab your canvases and paint! Find a place on the floor and have fun.”  I froze in the suggestion to “have fun”.  I thought, “She has to be kidding.” I just played out the words “have fun” over and over.  “How can this be fun? Seriously, I have no idea what I am doing.”

The perfectionist kicked in and the critic was running rampant even before I started. The fear was huge.   “What if I fail?  What if it looks like a dog’s breakfast?” In that moment I reverted back to a child around the age of 4 in a play pit throwing an inner tantrum.  On the outside I was smiling, but on the inside I was frozen.

Picture taken on the day of me frozen (Painting of how I felt in that moment?-it wasn’t taken of you)

I remember showing my mother a picture I colored and how she had made a comment about my coloring not being “in the lines specified”. I also remember a teacher once telling me that someone else had created what I had turned in for a portfolio cover. I was accused of cheating. These were damaging words.

I started to believe that I wasn’t good enough-that it was too hard, and that I sucked at it. I believed what others said.  My joyful, creative, free-flowing self was replaced with judgment, criticism and pain. I felt so sad and disconnected to that part of myself. I remember watching people who painted, danced and sang and felt pain and loss in watching them. I wanted to have what they were having.

It is understandable that we all have these protective coping mechanisms. Yet, as we grow up, we start to recognize these small places-these places that stop us from shining. We can begin to look at why.  One of the first steps for me, once I realized “why”, was to embrace my hurt, scared, inner child who had been ridiculed and made wrong for their creative expression. I embraced the critic in me knowing that the inner critic had come from pain and not feeling safe. 

I took a leap and allowed myself to walk gently though the fear. It doesn’t make sense that I would paint a masterpiece in my 1st lesson or even in my 30th. Yet, I felt that the experience itself should be a masterpiece to me-the pure joy of taking a step and allowing myself to play. When I run workshops, an exercise I now use with my clients is to paint with the opposing hand.  Using cheap paints, cheap paper and anything except an actual paint brush, we begin to play-no recognizable symbols or intense thinking, just flow.

To me, what you paint isn’t as important as how you feel as you are painting. Reconnecting with that sweet child who didn’t feel safe and allowing a space for that sabotaging perfectionist to step away, can allow us to just play. Each time we create a space for changing those small thoughts we let go of the old, unhealthy criticisms, realizing that these were not our own thoughts and they can be unlearned.

Creativity is so much more that just creating a masterpiece.  It’s a place of meditation, an escape from stress and exhausted emotions. It can help you heal, feel, smile, and create connection to self and to others. Creativity comes in many shapes and forms-how we make a meal, the way we think, what we choose to buy for a gift, dancing, singing, acting and the list goes on. When you let go of the critic and fear, you open up to a place in you that feels so joyful and this can manifest in so many other areas in our life. Each step we take in gratitude, fun, and play brings us closer to our joy. 

Call Emelisa on 07 5559 2631
Mobile-0415 436 160

19 Apr 2013

Last Update: 17 Sep 2013

Article/Information supplied by Emelisa Mudle

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.