There are moments, hours and days when you feel like your creativity and work are flowing smoothly and there are those moments, hours and days when you feel that your “muse” has left the building. It’s not just your muse that is absent, but you feel completely drained and lifeless. Negative energy is sucking the life from you like a black hole and you feel like this process is completely out of your control. All you can do is to sit/lay down and wait for the negative wave to go away so you can feel normal again. Is that really true? Is this process entirely out of your control and there is nothing to be done in order to change how you feel? I think that there is something that can be done to spark the fire of creativity again. You don’t need to sit and wait for gods to show their mercy upon you, there are some simpler, yet more effective methods borrowed from different traditions and psychological science to start the flow.
First. Try to distance yourself from your ego and personal importance. This is far from easy, but once when you get it, there are no limits in your creative flow and you can handle frustration and obstacles with more success. The art of losing yourself is quite old and it can go very deep into the Eastern philosophy, however we don’t need to study Zen Buddhism and become enlightened in order to create this space of freedom, at least while working on something. If you don’t worry about the outcome of your work, and fully commit to your current actions there is actually a higher chance that the outcome would be much more fulfilling and of higher quality. We can find proofs for this claim even in neuroscience. In recent years, neuroscientists have discovered a neural network called Default Mode Network (DMN) in the brain that is active only when we are resting, thinking about ourselves, our performance, plan future activities, etc., that is when we are not currently involved in a task. Also, some people tend to use this network more than others and it has been shown that people who have troubles to disengage their focus from this self-referential thinking frame to the task-oriented thinking have also a higher risk to develop depression. So, even though you might have troubles to shift your focus from yourself to your work and you tend to worry about outcomes of your work, try to create a distance from worrying and this space will become bigger and bigger as you continue to work, and soon as you know it, you will be in the flow without even noticing it.
Second. Be present. This method is very much associated with being free from your ego, and sometimes it is a prerequisite for it. Being present in the moment and fully committing to the work you are currently conducting, drives your attention from yourself to your work, so there is no space for worrying about the outcome. Begin with small things. For example, if you are writing something, focus only on your current sentence for a moment, and then go back to the bigger picture. In this way your attention can shift between the purpose of your work and current actions without distractions. This method doesn’t sound like something new, but when you are aware of this process you give yourself the space for both, your current actions and your final goal. In this way you appreciate more what you have done without losing yourself in your final goal and big plans, and it gives a certain level of satisfaction with what you have accomplished so far, thus you feel better when you go back to your final plan. Don’t forget that the bigger picture wouldn’t exist without it’s elements, so give them your full attention and you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!
Third. Respect your limits. Even people who seem perfectly successful have their own concerns and make mistakes. However, they accept those mistakes as part of the process and accept themselves as being far from perfect. In this way you are again more work-oriented, and less self- and outcome-oriented. Then you will find better ways to cope with your limitations and ways to face criticism as a chance to grow and develop. Mistakes and limitations are parts of our every day lives, so why fight them instead of use them as an opportunity to learn more and to discover the world. Life is an ever-lasting learning process. In addition, by accepting your limits you also drive yourself to think more intensely and more versatile, so you can find new perspectives for your problems. In that way, you can actually create space for creativity and creative thinking and have lots of ‘a-ha’ moments. So go on, face your limitations and make your mind work in order to find new solutions and create new paths far beyond past limits!