Creativity is vital to our expression of life force energy. Somewhat elusive in terms of definition, it is a paradox in itself that it is vast and limitless, yet attempting to define it puts parameters around it, defying its nature of expansive, constant change in expression. We are all creative beings and have access to creativity within us. Any belief that does not support this notion is a limitation on accessing and expressing creativity.
Creativity is often channelled through a medium of self expression as well as cultural, historical, artistic and collective forms. It is natural and normal for creativity to become blocked during our lives. In fact it’s sending an invitation to overcome limiting beliefs, embrace creation and find fulfilment.
A limiting belief is something that holds us back and prevents us from moving forwards in life. It often blocks us from taking action and one of the keys to overcoming limiting beliefs is to take action; small steps, beginning with awareness. There are other practices and techniques in overcoming creative blocks which will be explored, one of which is related to shadow work.
Shadow work addresses the repressed and exiled parts of ourselves that, as a result of childhood experiences, informed us that certain behaviours weren’t acceptable. Referring to parts of us that are hidden, there are modalities to uncover and integrate these aspects of self that have become fragmented. Limiting beliefs are examples linked to fragmented aspects of self.
By identifying parts that have been rejected or repressed we can begin to understand how limiting beliefs are impacting us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Overcoming limiting beliefs, bringing shadow aspects into conscious awareness, reconnects us to life more openly; inviting creativity to be expressed and shared, as well as, living more content in harmony.
Signs of blocked creativity
Creativity hasn’t been studied historically as something measurable, definable and has somewhat remained elusive in scientific fields. It represents and is by nature an infinite source of creation and evolution. Creativity can become blocked and can remain so for sometime, depending on the circumstance.
Indicators that creativity may be blocked:
- Physically – being stuck in routine for too long leading to predictable, repetitive habit patterns and you lose interest in what you’re doing day to day.
- Lacking creative outlets in which to express yourself. E.g. the arts (painting, ceramic, dance, singing, theatre) or simply fun and games, play, hobbies and interests
- Burnout – physical exhaustion and being drained leaves no vital energy to do anything else (over working, over caring for others, major life stress factors)
- Inaction – not doing anything and giving up all physical pursuits of inspiration, dynamism, interest and lethargy can set in
- Emotionally – not having fun or enjoying yourself, feeling dissatisfied.
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling drained due to lack of emotional support from yourself, giving too much emotional support to others, or a combination of both
- Feeling anxious and preoccupied
- Mentally – repetitive ways of thinking rather than seeing a different way out or through.
- The presence of the inner and/or outer critic that repeats negative self talk that attempts to reinforce false beliefs about yourself or others
- Lack of motivation due to thoughts that reinforce negative talk and patterns of behaviour
- Perfectionism oftentimes relates to the inner critic and the belief of “not being good enough”
- Not identifying yourself as a creative person – a belief that gets reinforced and keeps you believing you are not capable of creating; applicable to all areas of life
- Spiritually – being disconnected from a Higher Power and closed off to the heart, emotional intelligence and the sense of being connected to Wholeness.
How does creativity relate to shadow work?
Shadow work was introduced by Psychoanalyst Carl Jung and referred to parts of ourselves that were hidden, disowned or rejected through an experience, usually beginning in childhood. These parts become fragmented and called ‘shadows’ because they are stored in the unconscious and day to day we are unaware of their presence.
During childhood our primary caregivers, teachers and peers provide feedback and reinforcement on what is deemed as acceptable behaviour on many levels. The parts of ourselves that were not deemed as acceptable, usually certain behaviours, get rejected internally and we thus hide them from ourselves. However, those rejected parts remain within our unconscious and play a role in subsequent cognitive, behavioural and emotional development.
The rejected parts can be considered as unconscious wounds because they exist and remain inaccessible, unless brought into conscious awareness, the consequence of which being somewhat under their influence. When thinking, feeling or acting from a place of wounding, creativity is blocked too, separating us from the flow of life, unable to fully express. Our lives become challenging; we feel stuck, unable to take action, feel overwhelmed, experience anger, frustration or despair.
The following are common shadow aspects of creative expression that can show up as limiting beliefs:
- Lack of confidence
- Fear of being judged
- Loss of self trust
- Fear of being ridiculed
- Self doubt
- Comparing oneself to others (“They are better/more talented than me.”)
- Not believing in oneself (“I’m not good enough.”)
Creativity is therefore paramount in being free from restriction, which include limiting beliefs from the past that inhibit free expression. Creative blocks can begin in school, if your creative thinking, expression (painting, drawing etc.) was criticised for example. It could be the case that this continues or began at home and perhaps later on in college or in the workplace.
How to overcome limiting beliefs that block creativity
Overcoming limiting beliefs about (lack of) creativity or creative blocks are a first step towards embracing your natural and present talents of creative expression that are already within you. Overcoming wounds through bringing awareness to them in the following ways will support you in all areas of life where they may exist and be holding you back in life:
- Introducing play
- Disrupt routine and habits – reconfigure your schedule leaving space for spontaneity so your week and days aren’t all planned out and predictable.
- Seek positive, supportive environments – perhaps with a trusted friend or group, or take yourself to a setting that inspires you
- Take a walk in nature to reset and receive inspiration
- When feeling inspired record your ideas and map them down – draw, write, doodle; create a vision
- Move! – keep active whether that’s regular stretching breaks, fresh air and include movement practices to keep energy (and creativity) flowing
- Emotionally – Maintain self care as a priority to your emotional well-being
- Acknowledge feelings and emotions that arise mindfully, with compassion and curiosity
- Journal, or sit and be present with your emotions and feelings to understand what’s underneath them and what limiting belief they might relate to
- Mentally – Maintain self care as a priority to your mental well-being
- Observe, record, journal on your thoughts and inner dialogue to begin to see repetitive, negative self talk or patterns of thinking that get you stuck
- Practice mindfulness to acknowledge limiting beliefs and write down empowering, supportive beliefs to replace them.
- Set up a vision, focus or affirmation (visual, written) to refer to when you’re feeling uninspired or stuck
- Practise visualising what you want to create – focus on the feeling state when you imagine yourself to have created what you want and practice connecting to this feeling daily
Practice as a great teacher and healer
When you feel uninspired you tend to lose interest, energy and attention in what you are doing. This can be in a project, day to day living and activities, or in a relationship. Your creativity can feel stifled, inaccessible and contribute to feeling blocked, overwhelmed, and negative self talk can appear too.
Understanding limiting beliefs and working to overcome them are key practices in modalities like shadow work that examine unconscious limiting beliefs. Shadow work is a modality that requires time, patience, openness and practise. Due to the nature of shadow work there may be sensitive or trauma related circumstances that arise in which professional or support and guidance with an experienced practitioner might be considered.
There are varying scales of depth in which to work with shadow aspects of self. Practices that include physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of the self encourage a deeper knowing and experience of oneself in order to give rise to opportunities to overcome limiting beliefs.
Overcoming limiting beliefs directly and indirectly impacts access to creativity and is necessary in opening fully to life, self expression, joy, satisfaction and fulfilment. Through mindfulness practices that expand awareness, one can reconnect to the abundance of creativity and creative flow, an essential component of a free, expressive life experience.
If you would like to read more about limiting beliefs, when and how they are formed from early childhood experiences, you can read more here. Due to the nature of limiting beliefs they have an enormous impact on our lives as adults as they are a direct result of conditioning that was formed early on in life. With numerous options of practical, mindful modalities you may wish to explore options and find out more.