Recovering a Sense of Safety

Working through The Artist’s Way is often helpful for me. As I’ve mentioned before, I am about to become an empty nester. Given that, I am feeling the need to prepare . . . and part of that preparation is nurturing my Inner Artist. If you have read Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, you know that the first week is about recovering a sense of safety. This is the beginning of a journey of artistic exploration and release. I am excited – I am really looking forward to releasing the creativity. I feel like my muse is deep inside me, covered with sludge, struggling to make her way to my shoulder so she can whisper in my ear.  What are you feeling?

One of Julia’s conversations in this chapter discusses Shadow Artists. Look at your own life – this may be your situation. Many people who are artistic don’t receive the encouragement they need as children, so they follow a safer path. They are caught between dream and reality in a shadow world, on the fringes of the artistic world they yearn for – but aren’t quite brave enough to strive for. I am a paralegal by day, so I don’t think I quite fit that pattern. I certainly thought along those lines though – when I was in high school, trying to decide what to do with my life, I planned to be an English teacher. Later, I decided to be a school librarian. Then life happened and things changed and, well, eventually I ended up as a paralegal by day and writing in my spare time. So, though I don’t consider myself a Shadow Artist, I did meander down that path in my younger years. There are times I’m still tempted, though . . . think how easy it would be to “become” a book editor for others who want to self-publish books. And I do wonder if my forays into non-fiction (for paralegals and weapons accessories) are the work of my Shadow Artist.

Another thing that we creative types have in common is the need to protect our inner artist. S/He is a child that needs to be nurtured and protected. Please recognize that this is a learning/growing process. Picasso did not create a masterpiece the first time he picked up his brush, and Stephen King wasn’t an instant success the day he first wrote words on a page. Give yourself permission to explore. Through exploration, you will eventually find what you are searching for. My favorite quote of Julia’s is her answer to the question”But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really” write? Her answer: “Yes . . . the same age you will be if you don’t.

So, let’s start now. Think about those dark, negative beliefs that hide inside you. These are at the core of your creative block. We need to uncover those dark beliefs so that we can deal with them and get rid of them. It’d be nice if we had a delete key, but we don’t. So, how do we get rid of that negativity? First, recognize that just because you hear them in your mind doesn’t mean they are true. They came to us from society, our parents, our friends . . . but that doesn’t make them true. I want you to take each negative, and turn it into a positive. For instance, one of my negatives is that “I don’t have good enough ideas.” My positive is this: “I have many good ideas.” Put a positive spin on that nagging negative voice. We usually remember the negative and forget the positive – I challenge you to pay attention to those positives. Make an effort to remember them.

Easy for me to say, right? Actually, it’s easy for you to say, too. I want you to work with positive affirmations. They really are powerful. There are lots of affirmations out there – find something that works for you. Here are a couple of mine: “I am a creative person.” “I write every day, whether I am motivated or not.” Use these affirmations and positive thoughts to get past those negative thoughts that your Inner Censor blurts out.

And now, it’s time for you to work on some tasks to recover your own sense of safety. I’ll work on these this week, too, and may share them with you later:

1.   Time Travel – list 3 old enemies of your creative self-worth. Be specific – these monsters are the basis of your negative beliefs.

2.   Time Travel – list 3 champions of your creative self worth.

3.   Imaginary Lives – If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them?