As a creative person do you often find reality & ideals are at odds with each other? People often say you need to be realistic, but could focusing too much on being practical limit your creativity and your dreams?
I discovered this week that I’d inherited a really crappy outlook on life that I didn’t realize I was carrying around. This little beastie that infected my worldview and self-esteem disguised itself as ‘being practical’. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being practical, but when it’s actually pessimism and defeatism disguised as ‘being practical’ – it’s got to go!
Especially when how you feel about your creativity is being hampered by thoughts like, “yes I’ve made a nice painting, but ‘be practical’ – what are you going to do with it? It’s not like anyone’s going to want to look at it, let alone buy it” – then you’ve got a problem.
Where does this attitude even come from? Usually it’s absorbed from the well-meaning people who love us most, in my case –my dad. My dad has been absent for most of my life but in the early years, when I was always making things, he sadly didn’t understand what being creative meant for me. He was unintentionally dismissive of anything I ever made for him, no matter how many hours it took. My mum tried her best to explain to him why he needed to show an interest, but he just never saw the point and said I was overreacting when I was upset about his lack of appreciation.
Boo-hoo, we all have childhood hurts we carry around with us. But you mostly forget these hurts in day-to-day life, so you inevitably end up carrying around beliefs that you’ve accepted as normal until one day you realize – wait! This is actually total crap!
So I’m replacing the idea of ‘being realistic’ with seeing myself as the dreamer I know I actually am and I’ve thought about some ideas for how to be a better dreamer:
7 ideas for being a better dreamer:
Search yourself for negative beliefs about your creativity. Many of them begin with “Yes, but how…”
Dreamers don’t focus on the how. They just know that it’s going to happen for them how they want it and keep visualizing it.
Tell yourself you can do it every day. If you don’t like verbal mantras, turn them into a little tune. When I have a mantra I sing it on my morning walks with the dog, to make it more memorable and fun for me.
Being a dreamer is taking the road less traveled. That means that sometimes it’ll be harder because others can’t see the vision you have. The only way through is with commitment to yourself.
Only pay attention to criticism from people whose opinion you actually value. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t ‘get’ you, and that’s fine. I like to go by the one in five rule that Prof. Steve Peters sets out in The Chimp Paradox: 1 in 5 people will love you, 1 in 5 will hate you and the rest are just in the middle. Just accepting that takes the pressure off from wanting to be liked by everyone.
If you can find a mentor who understands your vision and is willing to support you as well as tell you when you’re barking up the wrong tree, this will be gold-dust. (I’m still working on this one – volunteers? ☺)
Dreaming requires you to turn your thoughts into actions, otherwise you’ll stop believing in them. This means keeping going regardless of whether the actual doing is much harder than the thinking.
I know these are the sorts of things anyone who into self-development probably hears quite often, but if you’re like me, I find constant reminders certainly help!
If this ‘practical pessimism’ sounds familiar to you, then I hope that some of these thoughts help you move on from other people’s negative ideas about being creative.
I’m sure I’m not the only one – hands up anyone who has had their creativity questioned or dismissed. How has it affected you creatively and how have you overcome it?