When Pain, Anger or Criticism Gets in the Way of Creativity

Time for creativity is a precious commodity.  Finding time for your passion is hard enough, but what do you do when pain, anger or someones criticism robs you of the little time you have to devote to it.  How do you, or can you turn it around?

Sometimes pain or illness just gets the best of you and you need to listen to your body and rest.  But sometimes, even just a few minutes of creativity can produce those wonderful endorphins that can reduce the level of pain and allow you some time to create.

Anger or a negative mood is a very powerful distraction, and if allowed, will hold you hostage, preventing you from doing what you love.  So what if you could allow it to be expressed creatively as a way of negotiating with the hostage taker to get back your creative time? 

The whole "Just get over it"  philosophy may work for some, but sometimes, some things just need to get out or they'll remain under the radar and explode later.  A few minutes of creative fireworks can defuse the negative energy and bring you back to a positive state.

Someones careless or deliberately critical comments can deplete you of your creative energy if you dwell on it.  Trying to understand someones motive or insecurity may help you to a degree, but it also robs you of your valuable time and keeps you in a negative frame of mind.  A few minutes of creative repair and re-energizing can help you minimize the effects of any negativity aimed at you.

So, how do you take back your time from these energy wasters?  I don't recommend that you willfully dive into your creative project of choice.  If you're like me, that just doesn't work!  For me, the best prescription is a few minutes of creative transition time to acknowledge what is causing the problem and then release it.

I do this in my Daily Doodle Journal.  In this journal, I use quick, simple doodles or scribbles to express what I am feeling.  It is more of a body/mind approach for releasing energy, not an art journal  The purpose is to quickly get on paper the feeling you are experiencing.  Doing this with just a pencil or marker without the expectation of producing your usual journal pages allows you to focus on just the feeling and getting it done quickly.  And the quicker you release any negative energy the less time it will take for you to get back to your creative project with a clear head and positive state of mind.

I normally will spend a minute or less on a scribble, doodle or one continuous line drawing, then continue on to additional pages until I feel the energy shift or minimize.  You will not only feel the difference, but will see the difference in your drawings.  The important thing to remember is that the purpose is to express what you are feeling  not to create a work of art. 

While I usually work in pencil, I also like to use chalk pastels or pastel pencils when I feel that I need to get the color intensity of what I am feeling.  In the example above, I was experiencing a lot of back pain and was very irritated.  I felt that the colors best expressed the toxicity that I was feeling.

In the examples shown below, you can see the progression of the intensity of each entry as it diminished. 

By the time I was finished, I felt that the anger I was feeling when I started had dissipated.  The chaotic and unsettled feeling was gone and I was able to move on.

The amount of time it takes to cross over to creative energy depends on the intensity of what you are feeling.  It's worth every minute though, if you gain back your time for creative pursuits.

I have tried adding words and journaling, but for me, the images are enough.  I find that when I start writing about what I feel, I become to detached and analytical; whereas, the images reflect the actual emotion.

In the example below, I decided to paint my pain.  I was having problems with severe palpitations and blood pressure spikes that would cause migraines.  The painting didn't get rid of the problem, but it put me in a calmer state that provided relief.  It also gives me some relief by feeling that I accurately expressed what I was feeling.

If you have experienced losing your creative time to unexpected pain or some type of negative energy, you know the feeling of frustration your left with.  If your creativity is your source of income, any downtime can cause a missed deadline.  Your Daily Doodle Journal can provide you with a method or "therapy" you need to get back on track.

For another method of dealing with negative energy, see my post on reframing.  This method will take more time, but is excellent for more stubborn, recurring issues.

I hope you will give method a try.  It has worked wonders for me!

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Happy Doodling!