As a creativity coach, I work in the area of connecting with the knowledge that we are all capable of self-actualisation and we all have something to share. I believe that to reach our potential we need to be connected to ourselves and present for our own journey. We have heard the phrase ‘Life is a journey, not a destination,’ and lots of its derivatives, for many years now. Yet while we all know these phrases and appreciate their meaning, it doesn’t stop us getting caught up in the rat race and in relying on outcomes to determine our sense of self. Why is this and what can we do about it?
Creativity is all about self-expression – it is our own innate expression coming to life in a performance or a piece of written work or within art and by its nature it allows us to be seen. In fact expressing who we are and standing strongly behind that expression demands that we are seen. That demand causes fear within the person – fear of rejection, of failure – and results in a pulling away from being judged. This, I believe, leads us to get caught up in results, in ratings, in finales – in destinations. And when our focus is on judgements and endings, the real joy is lost.
To be free within creativity allows us to create something that comes from the heart and something that gives us a tool to express ourselves and be authentic. However, when this creative process is wrapped in fear it becomes tied to our sense of self-worth, our view of ourselves in the world and our value in society. The minute our work is taken over with these ego based notions, the value changes and instead of being free and present in the moment of creating art or working on self-expression, we are caught up with the end product and that is what defines us. The bar is set really high and artists want to have a perfect experience and the outcome of this endeavour is the defining element of the process. It has to be perfect or it is not good enough. However, this is a flawed way of thinking and takes so much away from the creative process, the learning potential, and the personal development of the client. We look to the final result as the marker for our abilities, instead of understanding that the sum of the parts is so much greater than the whole.
How can we introduce a new way of thinking – one that is about the journey, not the end result? How can we connect with our deep creative self and bypass the ego driven fragile elements of self? I feel the answer lies in a way of being that requires courage – courage to stay present, push through fears and acknowledge the small wins along the way. Connecting with your true self and expressing yourself authentically takes courage. It is not about a big win at the end – it is about the daily wins along the journey. True happiness comes from enjoying the small moments and developing your self-worth to a point where you know every day that you are already good enough – whatever bonus your work brings you is just that, a bonus. The real joy is being able to connect with your authentic self, to be who you really are and to live a wholehearted life.
We need to begin to live courageously every day. When I speak to clients about this, they often say they are so nervous, so afraid of failure, of not being good enough, of judgement. Their nerves keep them limited and results in them placing so much pressure on the outcome – they think if they get their perfect result then they’ll know they are good enough and everything will change. This is not true, even in the odd cases where people get ‘perfect results’ and are completely happy with the outcome, it doesn’t result in immediate change and freedom to live without inhibition. They soon find that their nerves are still there and that they haven’t magically disappeared. What about viewing these nerves in a new way and learning how to embrace them as part of the creative process. Nerves mean that something is happening, something exciting and something real, something new, something that is going to have an impact. Most of our days are spent in routine, we have done the same activities so many times and we do most things on autopilot – remember when driving a car was the most exciting thing you had ever done? And now a whole trip could go by without you remembering one thing about it. We are on autopilot so much of the time. So when something new comes up, something that takes us out of the familiar, we should embrace that feeling and face it with courage. It means that whatever is happening is important and it needs courage.
It is in choosing to act courageously that we push through fear and step into a new way of being. Every time we do this, we become braver. Telling ourselves that we will be happy and we will be successful once we have had a big win is to keep ourselves small and locked in a pattern of behaviour that never allows us to really blossom. On the contrary, every time we connect with the deep creative part of ourselves and let that be our guide we get braver, we produce better art and we step into our own power. Each daily occurrence of connection, presence and authenticity is a win worth counting. The more present we can be as we do this the more we notice what’s happening and appreciate where we are in our journey. It is not about a final destination anymore, it is about the small things.
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