The power our thoughts and beliefs have upon how we act and how we behave is vast, and we underestimate it at our peril.
How free and creative you feel is almost entirely down to your beliefs about how free and creative you are.
Some would go so far as to say there is no such thing as one shared reality, we each create our own reality by the collection of beliefs we have about ourselves and the world around us.
Byron Katie is someone who follows this line of thinking with her process called The Work and books such as “Who Would You Be Without Your Story?“, and these are resources I’d certainly recommend exploring. A famous quote of hers is: “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time.”
When it comes to beliefs about your creative life, there are two distinct areas, and it helps to separate them, because they each can greatly empower and free you, or limit and restrict you in equal measure.
First, there are the thoughts and beliefs you have around creativity and being an artist in general.
If someone says to you: “oh, she’s an artist”, then what kind of thoughts first come to mind?
Do you think this person, because they are an artist, is likely to be curious, creative, inquisitive, free thinking, pioneering, imaginative, fun, inspiring and full of energy?
Or are the thoughts that fill your mind more along the lines of her being unpredictable, unsociable, difficult, melodramatic, moody and flaky, because she’s “an artist”?
What you believe has a major influence on your own creativity.
In the simplest terms, if you see being an artist as good thing, then you’re more likely to allow yourself to be one.
If it’s something you have negative connotations with, then of course it’s going to be something you’re more likely to avoid trying to be and you’ll repress your creative talents as a result.
Another element here is what you believe you need to be like, what qualities you need to possess to be creative, and an artist, and what your life must be like.
If you believe that to be considered creative you must have published seven novels, or sold hundreds of thousands of records or had a dozen photography exhibitions, and you haven’t done these things, then you won’t allow yourself to see yourself as creative at all.
That depressingly common phrase “I’m not a “proper” artist” is likely to make frequent appearances and further limit you.
The second area is more personal. These are the beliefs you have about yourself, your own talents and abilities.
A simple test here is to just think of how you’d respond if I said: “Are you a creative person?” or “How creative do you think you are?”
If you reaction is something like: “Me? Creative? Oh no, I’m not very creative at all” then obviously by carrying this belief around with you it affects how much you create, and how much you attempt to create.
With all of these beliefs, more often than not we drastically sell ourselves short about how creative we are.
We have unrealistic expectations about all the things we must be and do, to be considered creative, and then when we don’t meet these expectations, we give up.
Can we overcome such limited thinking? Yes of course.
I’d invite you first to identify some of the beliefs that hold you back, that prevent you from being more creative.
What would you say are the three most limiting beliefs you have? The three beliefs that, if you didn’t have them, if it was not possible for you to believe them, would mean your creativity would go into orbit.
Write them down.
The next step is to turn these around into positive beliefs. Earlier on we spoke about how we define our reality by the collection of beliefs we carry around with us. Another way of putting this is – you are exactly what you tell yourself you are.
If you keep telling yourself you’re not creative, not talented, not a proper artist, then your behaviour and actions will obediently fall in line to support those beliefs, to prove to you that you’re right.
But the great news is, this works equally well the opposite way around with positive beliefs.
If you keep telling yourself that you are highly creative, that you have a brilliant, active imagination, that ideas flow freely to you all the time, then again your behaviours and actions will line up to support these beliefs.
You get to choose what you believe.
Tell me you’re creative, I’ll believe you, but most importantly, you’ll believe you.
Choose your beliefs carefully, and choose wisely.
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