Creativity or Guilt, Which One is Winning?


It’s easy to say you want to spend time on your creativity and expand into a more playful, creative life. When it comes to actually doing it, there are a host of reasons that easily turn into excuses and then obstacles — especially once the mind digs in. The most common distraction? Guilt.

One thing the mind is great at creating all day long are ways to make you feel guilty. Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • So much to do…who has time for creativity?
  • No space to do my creative work, so it’s too much of a hassle
  • It takes so long to get in the zone to create the way I want, so I just don’t bother
  • My (kids, pets, family) are always distracting me or need something, so I can never finish what I start

… you see the pattern here.

As active as the mind can be at creating all sorts of stories, it’s not so good at creating a boundary between what is truth and what is fiction. Guilt feels the same, no matter the source.

Guilt, the Hidden Defense Mechanism and Sneaky Creative Block

Focusing on all the things you could be doing instead of taking time for yourself or creative passions also puts the mother of all defense mechanisms into play. With a massive mountain of guilt shadowing your creativity, how can you feel good about the creative process or anything you make? How will you commit to it?

More importantly, how will you ever complete something and put it out into the world for people to see, experience and … judge?

Yes, whatever you happen to put in the world people will have an opinion about it. That’s a fact. So if you keep using guilt as a way to avoid future pain, you are putting one heck of a creative block in your own path.

One way to start easing up on the guilt reflex is by realizing that if you feel guilty about your creativity, even sneakily so, that it’s just a clue about where you are stuck. It’s a little glimpse of insight that shows you where you need to refocus and help restore balance. Guilt isn’t wrong, it just becomes a negative influence in your life once it’s out balance. Your best support tools? Mindfulness and self-love.

Making Friends with Guilt and Expanding Creative Freedom

Your creativity needs to be fed, watered and loved, just like a plant. If what you see as “enemies” to your creativity live in your own head, then you need to find a way to make the peace. So, that’s where a regular practice of mindfulness can be a big first step.

If you can, even in the smallest of ways, to acknowledge when the guilty thoughts roll through, you are already on your way to shifting your experience. Once you get more familiar with doing it as an exercise, then you begin to counteract a guilty thought with an act of self love. An act of self love is a little treat like a positive mantra, a walk, a piece of chocolate — whatever is simple and easy for you to do in the moment without putting too much thought into it and firing up the mind.

As you continue to practice this you will notice a shift in how you see your own guilty thoughts as well as how your body reacts to them. Instead of feeling frustrated or distracted by a guilty thought, you will realize it’s just your mind trying to “protect” or distract you from those “risky” creative adventures. You will also notice you naturally shift more to focusing on your heart space, which is where your creativity truly lives.

What has been your experience with guilt and creativity? What have you done that really works in resetting things to a healthy balance?

Photo credit: Kofler