Moving Blog

I have decided to move my blog onto my website and wanted to invite you over. Transitions can be difficult (especially for someone a bit technologically challenged like myself) and I hope that if you have enjoyed my blog so far, you will consider joining me there. As a thank you for sticking around, reading, and commenting I decided to write an article about happiness just for you. You can find this article on my new blog here.

I also transferred all the posts from this blog over on the new one, in case you want to revisit any articles.

Again, thank you for all of your support and I hope to see you on the other side.

Diana

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Turn feelings of insecurity into confidence.

A certain amount of insecurity is healthy and helpful. When we feel insecure we question the things we do which, in turn, forces us to look closer at any given situation to analyze and clarify our options in order to move forward.
The problem with insecurities is not that they exist, they do and will, but how they manifest, how you unconsciously integrate them with who you are, and how you allow them to define you. Continue reading


Dealing with unsupportive partners when you’re a creative

Creative people rely on their affect, talents, and techniques to engage in creative endeavors. A lot of the work you do takes places in solitude, as this is the space where creative ideas have the room to emerge and expand in an uncensored way. You reach deep within into the depths of your consciousness and take risks by plunging into the unknown without much of a guarantee of fame or success. And while creative people have been described as introverted and thinking types (not always the case) able to support themselves in the process of creativity, we’re still social beings and need people around us. We need a good supportive system in place and the people around us (partners, friends, family) to encourage us and be there for us when we need it; and in return, we do the same for them.

Continue reading


How self-insults turn into self-fulfilling prophecies

Words are powerful and words can hurt is the adage we carry with us throughout our lives; how much or whether we really apply it are a different matter. What I want to focus on is that when we choose to follow it we do so when it comes to others and almost never when it comes to ourselves. Creative types are particularly apt at putting themselves down through the internal language they use.

We constantly worry whether other people like us, how they feel about us and think of us and we never seem to worry too much about how our own words impact us. You are the person who spends the most time with yourself and most times, you also listen to yourself. What you tell yourself, how you speak, and the tone you use set up the environment in which you must function (and sometimes we don’t seem to be able to function at all); the tone and language you choose become part of you and greatly influence the way you feel about yourself and how you treat yourself.

“Stupid forgot her phone again” you might say, or “Geez, I am always rambling”. What is it exactly that we say when we talk to ourselves like that? Could these two examples be translated into: I am stupid and I never have anything meaningful to say so, I don’t matter.

These are the obvious examples, they’re transparent and quite direct, but how about the sarcastic ones? “Go ahead, have another piece of chocolate, it’s not like it matters anymore” or “Oh look how original I am” that’s a personal favorite. The underlying messages here are I am already fat, have no self-control, I am a lost cause; and I have nothing new to say, I am average, I don’t matter.

And how about the subtle self insults, the ones that pierce right through your core. “You tried” you might tell yourself while still working on a project, or “I didn’t even clean out the house today” might be translated as I am a failure; and I am lazy, incapable of doing the simplest things so I am an idiot.

Could you imagine saying these things out loud to someone else? How insulting and degrading is that! We couldn’t conceive using such insults to talk to the people closest to us and yet we take the freedom to do it to and for ourselves.

So what happens next? Since all these are internal insults and because we do listen to ourselves and unconsciously decode what we really are saying, we internalize these messages and when time comes, act with them in mind.

The things we tell ourselves and the way we talk also determine the expectations we have about our abilities, intelligence, talents, etc. These expectations, not to be confused with standards, take the form of self-fulfilling prophecies. You keep telling yourself you’ll fail enough times and you will end up eventually failing and not because of any external factors, as we’d like to believe, but because we start acting in a way that is likely to elicit the expected behavior; this is sometimes referred to as self-sabotage.

Our mind, particularly our unconscious works in amazing ways and it can be great a ally or our biggest enemy regardless of our assets. While some might argue that this is a deterministic view – and for a good reason- I am suggesting quite the opposite.

You can be in control of yourself and your actions as long as you are aware of all the internal elements at play (your attitude toward yourself, self-imposed expectations, the language you use with yourself) in any given situation. So, next time you’re in your head talking to yourself, pay some attention. What are you telling yourself and what’s underneath that? What are you really saying? You’ll be surprised with how apt you’ve become to insulting yourself and putting yourself down in the subtlest manner.


“Walking in my shoes”

Often, you feel so misunderstood or not understood at all. Others might have more ardent issues than you do, and this is not a game of comparison “who has it the worst”. Your issues feel like they hurt more, because they are yours and you can feel them. We try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and we can get it; but not entirely and never fully. Still, you do know how emotions feel like to you.

Enjoy this Depeche Mode song!

“Try walking in my shoes

You’ll stumble in my footsteps.”


A random thought on dealing with emotions

We respond well to emotions, particularly if they’re not ours. We enjoy watching movies, reading books, and listening to music because in them, we can find a familiarity that is removed from the personal. We use escapism when we convince ourselves that it’s easier and more doable to empathize with ourselves if we witness those emotions experienced by other people first.

We are entranced by emotions yet we find it hard to be comfortable with our own feelings. It simply feels easier to relate through watching others; this way, we feel as though we don’t have to deal with them on our own.

Suppressing and repressing emotions.

In a way, it’s like cheating except that in the end, we only cheat ourselves and, consciously or not, we know it.


Tangles

tangles


Vulnerability in creativity

Creating from a place of vulnerability and raw emotions gives your creative endeavor the main ingredient of connecting with yourself and the ones exposed to your work. Vulnerability is strength and courage, particularly in the creative process, because that’s where we store the hard lessons of life, our failures and mistakes from which we can learn to improve; it is the most fragile part of ourselves and yet it holds the answers to the difficulties we keep running into over and over again for which we think there is no solution.


Solitude and creativity

The concept of solitude is getting a bad name lately, in the era of social everything. We’re both connected and disconnected at the same time and creativity cannot survive or emerge in environments that do not encourage it. Solitude has come to represent something negative and anti-social, when in fact it is a very effective tool in achieving creativity, reaching that place within that needs to be explored and expressed.

 

Attitudes towards solitude

Creative people, artists, and scientists alike expressed (all throughout history) positive thoughts on the role of solitude in the creative process. Presently, other schools of thought place solitude and collaboration at opposite sides of the spectrum. The answer is not easy because as much as we’d like, things are rarely ever so black and white.

I believe that solitude is not at the opposite side of collaboration, they are rather on different panes. Solitude allows creativity to come to life, whereas collaboration increases the potential for creative endeavor. Solitude and collaboration are two different steps within the same process, they are not in competition with one another.

The role of solitude

Choosing to be alone in a somewhat disciplined manner can give you the time and space necessary to process your emotions, by looking within.

Creativity is a very personal kind of experience, one that does not look like or get manifested the same for all. It is because creativity is so personal and subjective, the reason why it requires lots of introspection, thought and access to what helps it emerge: feelings. The emotions that you can relate to so well when you read a book, look at a painting or a photograph, or listen to music.

Emotions can be hard to access, especially because we have so many walls and defenses in place to protect ourselves. Accessing emotions requires dedicated time and effort in focusing within. That means that you need to be able to pause without distraction or interruptions. The goal is to give your mind blankness or the space that you need in order to step within and connect with yourself.

For some, this might sound like a tedious process and that is fairly true; you need lots of courage, patience, empathy towards yourself, and discipline to get to that point and many times it is impossible to do it on our own; therapy can help though.

Solitude (paired with silence) is one of the main keys to creativity because it can lead you straight to the emotions that need your attention most, and with it to the inspiration you are seeking.


Feeling guilty?

I have a personal vendetta with the word “should”. I’ve been battling with its’ influence for over 10 years consciously, and have struggled with it for most of my life. Maybe you too have been in the same boat, if not consciously then unconsciously. In the moments I was feeling frustrated I would say that “should’s” ruin lives. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration although in reality, “should” and “should not’s” truly impact our lives to the core.

The impact of words

We make decisions (important ones) around all sorts of “should” and “should not’s”. As a simple example, when someone says “I should call my parents every week” they create an expectation, which can be felt as unreasonable, and if unmet, leads to feelings of guilt; maybe you feel like you’re a bad son should you not call each week. You feel guilty; maybe you procrastinate, and then feel guilty again while the pattern goes round and round. How about the times you convince yourself that you “should” say yes to some request because if you don’t, you fear you won’t be liked as much?

The meaning behind the meaning

“Should” is an umbrella for unrealistic and unreasonable expectations that you hold about yourself. Each time you don’t rise up to those expectations, you feel frustrated with yourself, guilty because you “should” have been able to succeed, and feel like you’ve failed.

We learn to “should” from a very early age and over time, become so immersed in it that we don’t often recognize it for what it is: an impediment of us being who we are, that promotes guilt and with it low self-esteem.

I want to note here that this is not a universal rule, by any means. Some “should’s” are useful: when you say “I shouldn’t harm people”, well, “should not” here is appropriate.

The “should” and “should not’s” I’m focused on here are rooted in your personal values and beliefs, rather than generic morality. They are those that leave emotional scars upon your psyche and can be closely tied to feelings of insecurity, fear, depression, and anxiety. They are the ones you use in day to day situations, in conversations with others and, even more, in conversations with yourself.

Self awareness

Pay attention to the times you use the words “should” and “should not” and try to figure out what you’re really telling yourself and how you make yourself feel as a result of it. As adults, we become masters of our own deceit, and we’re able to be cruel and judgmental with ourselves without even realizing it. Keep an eye out for guilt, because that’s what will probably stand out. If you’re unable to catch yourself in the moment, notice the guilt and work your way back to figure out if this is the result of imposing “should/should not” onto yourself.

Try to find a substitute word for it, something that actually reflects your sentiments or at least helps clarify them. Use “could” instead and see how one well chosen word can change and rearrange your perspective. In the example above, the changed version will be “I could call my parents every week”. It does not imply a judgment about you (bad son) and rather than creating an expectation, you are in fact creating a possibility and another choice.

What is your experience with the underlying meaning of “should” and “should not”?


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