My nine year old daughter was art journaling with me earlier this week and she suddenly went quiet, rubbed at her paper intently and said, “Oh no, mine’s rubbish!”
My heart sank as she said it because I know that familiar self-critical tape that has me stop before I’ve really got going.
We sat side-by-side at the table and looked at what she’d created. All I could see was creativity splashed all over the page. The way she’d used different spacing, writing, and color. She’d had an idea and chosen to express it and the energy was jumping across the page at me.
I asked her what made her feel it was rubbish and she started to say how it didn’t look the way it was supposed to.
“How was it supposed to look?” I asked her.
“Like those other ones. Look it’s smudged!” she replied.
It’s true, hers wasn’t like the other ones but there was something fresh and perfectly imperfect about her work that just stole my heart. There was no mistaking that this was her work.
The perfectionist trickster. The trickster of perfection is such a slippery fiend. Before you know it you’re comparing, judging, labeling and rejecting your work before you’ve even finished. It has you spin your wheels in do-overs and end up never acknowledging the inner artist in you.
But in a world that loves perfection, how do we overcome its’ hold and get creative?
We know that creativity, if we allow it, is the gateway to joy. What gets in the way of that joy is when we have judgments about our work that are based on our own fears that perhaps our work really isn’t good enough. We get scared it or we will be judged so we try and make it perfect before we’ll let it be seen.
4 ways to get beyond that perfectionist and bring back the joy to your creativity…
- Let the child in you lead. When you’re creating how much play do you allow yourself to have? Do you experiment with new forms and textures just for the sake of it? Or are you always trying to do it right and be professional?
- Be in nature. Can you really be creative looking at a keyboard or a blank canvas? Okay, so you may choose to do your work in this way but if you get out in nature and move your body you’re going to really feel a shift in your energy and connect to the divine inspiration that flows within you. You’ll notice it everywhere.
- Never compare. Your creativity is within you, it just needs a spark to awaken and remember it. Comparisons steal our joy because they suffocate our creativity. We forget we have what we need inside and that our creativity is just an expression of who we are (our uniqueness).
- Don’t make it a task. When you put creativity on a list as a “to do” you forget that it starts with who you are being. If you’re playful then creativity will show up as an outcome and expression of that play. If you’re going down a list of to do’s the energy that you bring is more staccato and less flowing. When creativity starts with being fully you, allowing, expressing your uniqueness, it happens like a dance. If you’re finding it’s not fun and there’s no ease, stop and let go. You can’t force it. Release and let go and begin again when the energy moves.