A few weeks ago I was brainstorming posts for my blog and came up with the idea to create JEMCA – five ways of self-care to improve your quality of life. (I used a mind map to come up with it. Needless to say, I felt like a mind-mapping badass.)
You are reading part four of my JEMCA. If this is all new to you, why not start at the beginning and learn about the “J” first.
Part of my idea was to write all five posts at the same time. Producing blog posts as batches also seemed badass, and was meant to give me time to focus more on the design and promotion of this little baby.
I am no ‘BBBPP’ just yet. (Badass batch blog post producer)
Writing about the ‘C’ to my JEMCA (which is NOT the first C-word that comes to my mind), coincides with feeling a little dull this week. Let me tell you about my C-word first.
To take good care of myself means to CREATE. Creating, to me, is more than painting, writing, or playing an instrument; creating takes whatever shape we choose, and it means to express ourselves.
I always thought of myself as a creative person, yet I really suck at painting, and, as my husband likes to remind me on many occasions, I have no sense of rhythm. I do remember being completely confused by the metronome that my piano teacher introduced me to at some stage. It looked cool, but what did it have to do with me playing piano, really?
Only during my last episode of feeling stuck and hopeless, I realised that being creative does not end with any of these things. It goes beyond a character trait. It doesn’t even matter if you think of yourself of someone who loves maths more than drama classes.
Being creative = to create = to express yourself
Here is the thing, when I notice that feeling of hopelessness creep in, I don’t feel like writing anything at all. I definitely do not want to be confronted by how terrible my paintings are, and every wrong note on the piano feels like a smack in the face. Still, those are the things that help the process the most.
Writing, painting or playing the piano are some ways for me to express myself. You are likely to have completely different ways of expressing yourself. The important part is not the end result, but that we do express ourselves. Whatever shape or form that may take.
When I get myself in too much a rut of guilt, sadness and judgment and none of these traditional creative activities seem to be accessible anymore, since someone tossed them all in the ‘too-hard basket’, I know that I need to access another form of expressing myself.
I create to express myself; to find an outlet for emotions that I managed to bury deep within me. When I struggle to create anything and already tried explaining how I feel to a friend and it did not help me, I know it is time I give my therapist a call. (Of course, that’s not exactly how that process works, but it sounds cooler than sending an email enquiry about ‘next Wednesday, after lunch if possible.’)
When I feel this hopeless, I have ran out of ways to express myself using colours on a canvas. Talking to a therapist is like taking the initial ‘roadblock’ away, so than I can get back to all those other forms of expressing myself.
When I am in that rut, talking to a therapist, is serious mind magic. I explain that mystical unsolvable thing that has been bothering me for centuries now (at least). I expect the same amount of insight that every other conversation about it has brought me in the past. Then my therapist, the professional mind-declutterer, asks a smart question (that is not always ‘how do you feel about that’). All the sudden, I can see a completely different way of thinking about that exact same thing.
I like to imagine that brand new pathway that is formed right there and then in my brain, with the little help from a professional mind-declutterer.
Once the initial roadblock is gone, I can remind myself that it truly does not matter what my paintings look like. I can ease up on the old judging game.
We need to express ourselves, and painting is a good example of something that is easily accessible for everyone. But, if you really hate painting, it is probably not the thing for you. It could be something completely different for you. Something that I haven’t thought of yet. What other forms are there to create? To express yourself? Tell me about it!
The most important part about creating something, and expressing yourself, is that you do it.
Then secondly that you do not judge the final outcome (if there is something tangible, like a chair. If you can’t sit on the first chair you ever make, do not give up, and do not blame the wood. You will eventually figure out how to make a chair, or you will figure out that it was never about making a chair in the first place.)
This week I didn’t feel like I was getting closer to any of my goals, I did not feel efficient, and I was struggling with some negative self-talk.
For now, it was writing that helped me get out of that rut. Not writing this, but writing about how I felt. I was writing to tell my dearest friend, but I did not have to even send that message. As soon as I typed out all my worries, I found a voice within me that told me to take it easy, give myself a break, allow what was, and then carry on.
All I had to do was find a way to express myself.
This is what we call love. When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you.
― Paulo Coelho