How To Survive An Attack Of The Killer Ps – Part 3 – Permission Thieves

No Permission Please
image: eatswords

When creating myself, and when hearing about other artists creating, there are common themes and blocks that show up time and time again. Shared struggles that, although they’re slightly different in their fine detail, have enough similarities to make them worth discussing, and finding ways to overcome them.

Three of the most destructive and frequently appearing creativity blocks all begin with the letter P.

In this mini series of three posts, we’ve been looking at each of the three, what they look like, and how you can protect yourself from attacks of these dangerous killer Ps.

This is the third and final post. The first, on perfectionism, you can find here. The second, on procrastination, you can read here.

Killer P number three – Permission Thieves.

What it looks like: Any time you feel you’re creating what you “should” be creating, or not creating something because you “shouldn’t” be, those permission thieves are at work. Essentially it’s when your choice of creating (and whether to even create at all) is driven by someone else’s approval, not your own.

Why it’s so destructive: Ultimately, the only person you need to ask permission of to create is you. But because we’re sensitive, emotional human beings that all want to be loved and respected, we take on the approval criteria of others in our lives.

Maybe it’s your art teacher from when you 10 years old. Maybe it’s your father who, even though he died 12 years ago, still seems to dictate what and how you allow yourself to create. Maybe it’s your peers, who look down on any art that doesn’t fit with their idea of what art should be like.

As well as having a plethora of opinions and limitations stuck in your mind about what you are and aren’t “allowed” to create, you probably have beliefs about how often you’re “allowed” to create, how much money you’re “allowed” to invest in your art, and so on.

Any belief that includes the word “should” or “allowed” is pretty likely one that contains embedded within it someone’s permission that isn’t your own. In other words, everything about what, when and how you create is being dictated by someone else.

How to beat it: The root of this permission isssue comes down to one question. Why do you create?

Is it because you find a pleasure and release in it that you can’t get from anything else? Is it because you want to express the real you, those deepest, most real parts of you that rarely get seen? Or do you create as a way to touch, inspire and connect with others?

I would take a guess that at least one of these, and probably all of them, are true for you. They’re certainly true for me.

Do you think you can achieve any of these if you’re always creating to meet someone else’s criteria of what art should be like, and what an artist should be like? Of course you can’t.

Which mean the only way to beat these permission thieves is to give yourself permission to be you, and to create the artwork that’s smouldering inside you waiting to get out.

A great way to get in touch with this is to imagine you were stranded on a topical island all alone for a month. Although there’s no way to escape, you know you’ll be rescued by a passing vessel in a month’s time, and in the mean time have all the food, shelter and art supplies you need.

What would you create, with absolutely no-one around to disapprove, to look over your shoulder and tut and shake their head? If no-one in the world would ever see this artwork or be able to judge or criticise you, what would you create that meant most to you? Taking the time to imagine this scenario and write down some of your thoughts will get you a long way to finding the artwork that you really want, and need to create.

Once you connect with this, and realise not only what you want to create, but also how vital it is that you do create, each and every day, it’ll make it so much easier to dismiss and ignore those thieves who try to steal your permission away.

The first in this mini series on the Killer Ps was about Perfectionism. You can read it here. The second was on Procrastination, which you can read here.


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