“It is especially the act of creation that requires bravery. Our ability to make and maintain meaning is threatened by the intrinsic hardness of creative work. It is odd but true that most creators do not recognise this reality. Instead of crediting creating with being profoundly taxing, they chalk up their difficulties to personal weakness. 

Eric Maisel {my emphasis}

When I was growing up, and actually for  many years after that too, there were two things I would hear all the time. ‘You’re sooooo sensitive’ was one, and the other was ‘You’re so stubborn!’.

Neither was meant as a compliment, and were so often commented on that I assumed they must be true, and that these were fundamental things about me that were wrong, because people didn’t seem to like them. But I didn’t know how to fix them, so that must mean that there were just some things about me that were bad and always would be. And that did not lead to robust mental health. :)

Sound familiar?

In fact, it was only last year that I truly understood that not only were these ‘problems’ not in any way indications that I was fundamentally faulty, but that they were in fact part of my unique set of gifts.

My sensitivity allows me to understand and empathise in my work, so that my readers and students feel heard and understood, and safe to proceed. It also allows me to sense and ‘read’ energy, and to paint in a very connected and authentic way.

My stubbornness has brought many things into the world that have helped people; writing, classes, paintings, more of my true self, more skilful communication, better cooking. :)

I can reframe those two qualities to ‘make them positive’, and call them heightened connection and perseverance, or empathy and persistence, but it’s not really necessary. It’s enough to have seen and understood them in a new way, and to use them to support my personal and business development. And that allows me to make a positive impact in the world, however small.

And best of all? I kind of love them, and myself for having them! {I did not see that coming.}

So what qualities in yourself are you using as sticks to beat yourself with when it comes to your art and creativity?

Perhaps you feel like a quitter because you rarely seem to finish what you start.

What if that actually means you have a prolific and abundant curiosity about life? What if it means you don’t have to create paintings that take months to complete, and can pull together something gorgeous in half an hour that someone would love to buy? What if it means your strength lies in short bursts of activity and shorter term projects?

Perhaps you feel like you can copy other people’s art but don’t have the creativity or imagination to come up with ideas on your own.

What if that means that your gift lies in recreating what you see {perhaps with your own twist}? It doesn’t have to be about copying other artists; it can be about painting what you see, in the way that you see it. There’s no law that says your paintings must come purely from your imagination.

Perhaps you feel like you’re just a procrastinator who never gets anything done.

What if that just means you haven’t yet identified what will get you going in amongst all the rules about what you ‘should’ be doing? It’s likely not the things themselves that you are struggling to do, but the hidden rules about how you believe you should be doing them that are holding you back. Another common reason is that you are missing a piece of information that would make moving forward much easier.

Perhaps you feel like you over think everything and are too much of a perfectionist.

What if that means you have a high standard for creating quality rather than quantity, and a curious and intelligent mind? What if that means you simply like to have a few things in place before you’ll commit to something?

Perhaps you feel like you’re just not good enough at art to warrant ‘wasting’ your time or money on trying it.

What if that’s really just a desire to find satisfaction in producing work you love? What if you haven’t even given yourself a chance because you’ve got a story going on about having to be perfect and do everything ‘right’ all the time? What if it’s just a bit of fear about showing up, which almost everyone has, even if it doesn’t look like it?

You’re not a quitter. You’re not uncreative. You’re not a procrastinator. You’re not an over thinker. {Whatever that is.} And you’re most definitely not not good enough. You’re just looking at how you do things – your creative quirks – through a lens of criticism and quite possibly someone else’s rule set.

It takes courage and stubbornness {woohoo!} to make the perception shift that reveals that that ‘negative’ trait you’re assuming is true about yourself is simply one – inaccurate and most likely incomplete – way of seeing your gifts. It’s completely possible to make that shift, and it doesn’t even need to take that long.

Owning what someone else thinks of as a fault feels incredibly empowering.

If someone were to say to me now, ‘You’re sooooo sensitive’, I’d say, ‘Thank you! Yes I am, and it enriches my life and the lives of others in all kinds of ways!’ Ok I might not literally say that, but that’s how I feel about it now. I’m not broken; I have an array of qualities I can choose to use for good, instead of jumping on the ‘I’m crap because you don’t like this about me’ wagon and allowing them to hold me back from at least having a go at the things that call to my heart.

There’s no ‘secret formula’, or some kind of patented method. It’s not about magical thinking or changing who you are. In fact it’s the exact opposite.

It’s about working WITH what you think is a problem and seeing that you’ve actually just been looking at it from an unflattering angle.

Hear this: there is nothing wrong with you. There is only a shift in perspective required. Your perceived failings are simply your creative quirks in disguise. Let’s uncover their true faces and get you doing the thing you are longing to do!

In fact let’s try this; you tell me something in the comments that you feel or have been told is a fault, something that’s stopping you from moving forward creatively, and let’s see if we can’t create a little shift for you around it. There’s no reason your perception about yourself needs to hold you back a moment longer. I know it’s asking a lot to reveal something like that, but this is a place where you will always and only find encouragement and support. So what do you say? What are you willing to see differently?

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