Creativity is not just for artists. If you are in recovery, you need to be more creative. And hint: it’s not about art.
Creativity has much to teach us about recovery.
As a writer, the ideas are not flowing these days. This time last year, I had more ideas than hours in the day. Today, ideas are rare. My writing process now involves sitting down at the keyboard, starting with whatever is on my mind and after several duds, something seems to take root.
I have to begin, each day, and trust that something will flow from my fingertips.
Trust and the sweat factor
Thankfully, creativity meets us when we trust. That is one of the lessons of creativity: When we trust, creativity joins us. Most times, trust only needs to be big enough to make us sweat.
One of the foundations of addiction recovery is trust: admitting that we have a problem is the first step in trust. In mental health recovery, we need to trust ourselves, trust that what we are feeling and seeing and hearing is valid enough to get help. You and I cannot get the help we need without exercising trust.
But trust can become wounded. And wounded trust begins to close up and protect. When we close up, we can’t be open to what others have to say, to love, to creativity or to the joys of the world.
Trust heals when we name our pain. Acknowledging that life, that other people, and that we ourselves have hurt us can be the step that will begin our healing.
Creativity is a collaborative effort. Even if you are alone at a computer, a canvas, a home recording studio or a wood shop. Creativity needs companions.
Sometimes the companions are creativity itself, or family, or friends, or personal heroes that live in our minds and our hearts.
Creativity is not a solo show because the ideas are inspired by other people, by situations, by books and art, by music and by life itself. Recovery is a collaborative, not isolated work. Much of the work can be done on your own, but you and I need other people for love, for forgiveness, for grace, for hope, and for help to restore our sanity.
Imagination and dreams
I have said a great deal about imagination in my recent post, Use the Future to Create a Better Life For Yourself: The Ebenezer Effect. The following two paragraphs are taken directly from that post.
Addiction, depression and anxiety present a strong vision of a future turned inward. They surround you, keeping your life, your highs and your lows predictable. You may hate what you feel, but it is known.
Doing the work to imagine a realistic future separate from our addiction or our mental illness can be liberating. Keep in mind that if you are in the middle of a serious depression, a binge, or a resurgence of our anxiety this work is not recommended. We have to be ready for it, it needs to be done in stages, and change takes time to seep in and germinate new hope.
You and I have competing visions in our minds. Each and everyday fear confronts us and calls us to live life small and self-protected. Anger and impatience confront us with a belief that obstacles deserve our wrath rather than our creative effort. Procrastination confronts us subtly with a belief that we will be more ready some other time. We forget that now is the time.
Joy and personality
“Live your life,” we hear. Thanks, Oprah. It’s true, but it’s so everywhere that it loses something.
Creativity thrives when we live our lives, whatever that is. This may mean allowing a little eccentricity, uniqueness, and personality to bubble out.
You and I are meant for joy. You and I are the only created beings that can smile, understand humor, and appreciate beauty and wonder. You are meant for joy.
That is my mantra these days, “You are meant for joy.” Why? Because mental health recovery is about as quick as a camel on a hot day. Joy is one of the other companions that we need so that our journey will feel a little lighter.
For you, you may like to express your joy through music, or through exercise, through your art, or through your volunteering. You may have tattoos or wear piercings, or wear hats (my personal favorite), or shoes. Whatever your thing, it is your thing for a reason.
That is part of your recovery. Don’t make the journey harder than it needs to be. Make joy your companion. You are meant for joy!
Go back to school
It’s time to go back to school: Creativity wants to teach you and I about trust, collaboration, imagination and dreams, and joy.
How can you learn from creativity? By living your life, doing your art, expressing yourself. If you want to learn more about how to be more creative, you can read One Small Step: Becoming Creative One Step at a Time.
I hope this post has inspired and informed you. That is my goal.
I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain.
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Keep it Real
All photos by smswaby