Cutting Creative Baggage Loose



Do you know your own creative baggage? Where it lives, hides or how it feeds itself? How about when it likes to make an appearance? This slippery little minx can make herself pretty scarce, and then suddenly reappear, sending you into a bit of a tizzy with no clear cause and a mess to clean up. So if this sounds familiar and you really want to shift away from drama, the most important question to ask yourself is this…

Are you really ready and willing to shake your creative baggage loose?

Be Willing to Acknowledge What Fears You Carry

While a mind eraser cocktail may help take the sting out the dings to your ego, it doesn’t break through the old thoughts, frustrations, ideas and patterns packed away in the fancy suitcase you drag along with you. Sometimes you are so used to carrying it, you don’t realize those things have morphed into creative baggage that starts to really narrow your point of view of what’s possible. So as the cushy wheels keep things rolling things along, you keep overlooking the opportunity to do what’s really most important — facing the fears you may find balled up in your suitcase.

To be fair, we ALL have things that trail us without our knowledge. Deciding to keep them or release them is all part of how we grow and evolve into our own creative identity. That is a choice made daily based on what is going on in your life. and how you choose to act next. What is terrifying to face right now may be a breeze in three months, because you have moved past the fear of “not knowing what will happen” and moved on to create anyway. It may not be the best project ever or the winning business idea that is going to make you a millionaire, but you are still creating your life, every day based on the choices you make towards joy and away from fear of the unknown or failure.

Fear is Normal and We All Have It

Anyone who says they are fearless is probably lying. Maybe they’ve reached a point in their life where they are better at handling it, fooling themselves by avoiding it through busy-ness, or causing drama for everyone around them as a distraction. People also often think something is wrong if they feel afraid, especially when it shows up around choosing something new vs. sticking with the same routine — even if the “same old” is not creating a fulfilling life.

So instead of looking at why the fear is showing up and trying to understand it, it can be easy to see it only as an indicator of something bad and try to avoid it. Except…avoiding facing fear is what leads to you getting stuck. Lots of baggage about different things, lots of places to get hung up.

I recently read an article by Brené Brown who was interviewing Elizabeth Gilbert about her new book. The two ladies got talking about how fear and creativity are completely tied, and you are unable to have one without the other. Whether you are creating a new artistic masterpiece or creating a new life through different choices that feels like a better fit for who you are, fear is going to show up. It’s just your opportunity to see if you can work with it to move into a new level of understanding of it so that next time you can just say “hey you again” instead of letting your body and mind move into a reactive, fearful mode.

Taking Creative Baggage to the Curb

Just like you do in the fall after you rake up the dead leaves and place them at the curb for the city to pick up, you can use a couple simple tips to start moving your creative baggage to the curb right now.

  • Decide what fear is the biggest and try to sit with it, finding out where it comes from and all the areas of your life it’s impacting right now. Go for a walk and just let your mind wander, opening up your defenses a bit to think about what scares you. Notice what shows up. Try a few walks if you don’t get something the first time around.
  • Make note of what fear is wanting to clear first and ask yourself if you are ready to deal with it right now. If not, write it down and put it on the back burner for another time. If you are ready, create a meditation practice around it that you do consistently, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. Be sure to write out what comes up for you when you are meditating on it and working with that particular fear.
  • Be sure to support yourself with good food, plenty of rest and a little time alone, as well as emotional support for yourself in the hard work you are doing. It takes real courage to take this step, and it’s important to acknowledge that for yourself, however that feels right.

Facing fear is part of being human and everyone is feeling it. So while external support and community camaraderie are wonderful tools for facing and making friends with fear, the act of cutting your creative baggage loose is ultimately a solo gig because only you can choose to step towards shifting it.

What techniques work for you when you are struggling with a specific fear?

Photo credit: Diana on Flickr