February 24, 2020

Trauma Survivors & the Broken-Hearted: Don’t miss out on this kind of Therapy.


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Why are we afraid to create?

Our gifts cannot reach the world if we sit on them; if we hoard them under our beds, and in closets, or only dribble them into journal pages. Though that satisfies a private need and is valid, I need to share.

Recently, I hit one of those personal/career milestones. I wrote an article on spiritual bypassing—an important topic to me—that’s reached over 200,000 people. That’s great, right?

Only now I am in this invisible competition with myself and I’m losing. I don’t feel anything I will ever write will be that good, and it’s driving me crazy. At this moment, I want to pull down everything else I’ve written and maybe that one wildly successful piece too, because then it won’t exist for me to compare my current or future endeavors against.

I know how this sounds because I know how it feels as I type it. I feel like a little kid who would rather break her favorite toy than share it. This is petty and selfish; this is exactly the opposite of the reason that I write—to be of benefit.

In scenarios like these, are we afraid of failure? Or is it the opposite? Maybe we are afraid of success.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.” ~ Marianne Williamson

So there it is, said by someone who I do not particularly like, from a book that I am not fond of. Yet when I asked myself who summed up this conundrum in a way that has related to millions, this quote immediately jumped to mind.

I prefer a more adult mentality when it comes to broaching matters of spirituality, than the, “we’re all children of God” approach. I think spiritual and emotional immaturity are leading causes of many of the world’s problems—problems that need open hearts and flexible, mature minds to discover solutions. But in our search for practicality, we must also guard against jadedness. We must remain open.

One component that keeps us from feeling creatively fluid is our trauma. When we experience trauma, our psyches often split and we begin an ingenious process of hiding our pain from ourselves. This is a psychological survival strategy. It is clever and effective, and it takes energy and effort to run—energy that can be liberated for our creative endeavors.

So often, we harden around pain, stifling the joyful sprite who loved to dance, or paint, or tell stories, or even dress in fabulous costumes. “That’s not practical,” we heard. And that phrase hurt so we stopped. Though opening up to those tender places within ourselves is sometimes scary, we must find bravery in vulnerability. We need our creative fire to know we are alive.

It is often in the practice of our craft that catharsis occurs. In sharing our joy and our pain, that expression becomes more than ours alone—it becomes universal. Yes, therapy is helpful, but so is play. Play is the natural means through which we move energy and explore reality. Think about it: Great sex? Play! A sport you enjoy, you play. Painting is playing with paint. Music can’t be spoken of without the word play. And for me, writing is playing with words. Big and small feelings, and ideas fly from my fingertips up onto the screen.

It is possible to play with anything in our life when we bring curiosity and compassion to the forefront of our awareness. A light heart may generate opportunities and outcomes that a rigid mindset will never produce.

Sure, it’s easier to not create—in whatever ways we are inspired. Until it’s not. Then it is impossible to silence our voice and neither should we try. And this is why I won’t pull down my words, no matter how awkward I feel. I will keep writing. I have ideas that others don’t have. I have a voice unique to my own experience, and you do too—and that matters.

Marianne talks about all of us shining—how it’s not special to some. That resonates with the Buddhadharma notion of basic goodness. This I believe in, wholeheartedly—we are fundamentally good, and innocent. Those qualities need expression. That is where our creativity comes in. Creativity is service. A dancer moves energy and emotions through her body for her own joy, as well as for the joy of those who behold her.

I write to communicate about the hard, holy, and human. Just saying that realigns my dedication, and dedication is as important as breathing to me. Life loses meaning without it. Without meaning, without creativity, what are we left with? Blind consumerism takes over, ravaging nature, spilling into our sacred places, our values, and our interior worlds. This I can’t have. I pledge my life force against it. So I will keep writing.

How can my writing make a difference? In the same way that any creative endeavor leads to harmony and personal—as well as world—healing. Painters dabble in beauty, inventors in ingenuity. Creativity must be part of our response to pain and distortion. In creativity we find genuinely compassionate solutions.

The Greeks had a word for creative essence: daemon. Inversely when that energy is not expressed it becomes demonic. Not some mythological entity, but the perversion of our natural imperative to exercise Luminous Epinoia, a Gnostic term which stands for our primordial relationship with creativity. When creativity is not expressed that energy must go somewhere, and it often comes out in unconscious, self-destructive behavior.

We might say that the world is suffering from a global creative deficit, and it might be possible that the trillions of dollars in global debt are an external manifestation—on a massive scale—of the absence of our personal and collective relationship with creativity. Yes, creativity is that important. The arts are that important.

Whatever and however we are each called to express our life force, to create—those creations are the balm that this brokenhearted world so desperately needs. Every creative act matters.

I write because you are not here and I want to touch you. I want to share with you what is in my heart, what is important to me. And if it were not for you, dear reader, dear creator, dear love, I would write for myself, for there is nothing in this world that lifts my heart in quite the same way.

I simply must know, what sets your creative spark aflame?


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