Purging Negativity to Unlock Creativity
In her book, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron claims that the negative experiences you have when others criticize your desires to take risks and create become a poison which limits your creativity. That is, unless you allow this negativity to escape. If negativity is expressed in such a way that you can get it out of your head and look at it objectively, then it is discharged and permitted to leave your soul.
The exercise below is one that Cameron suggests be done to help purge your soul of negativity. It should be done every day until a person, literally, cannot think of another negative incident.
This exercise is not simply drudging up the painful past. It's allowing you to "get it out" so that it's not inside you anymore. You need to "know your enemy" and your enemy is the "censor" you have inside that is not allowing you to be your natural, creative self.
Write down on three full 8.5 x 11 pages every experience you can recall wherein you tried to create something (or tried to pursue a dream of yours) and were either discouraged by others, criticized by them, or were made fun of. Try especially hard to recall incidents where you actually changed your behavior or dream because someone else made fun of you, told you that you were no good, or laughed at you. Try and recall all the times you stopped trying to do what in your heart you wanted to do.
Repeat this experience over the course of several days, and then make a commitment to do it at least once a month, until it becomes a habit. Do not write down the same experiences over and over. Once the memory has surfaced and has been recorded, you do not need to remember it, the paper remembers for you.
You aren't going to do anything with these lists. You're not going to go back to them and read them, unless you're curious about what you wrote a year from now. You're just going to create the list.
Were you surprised at how fast some of those memories came rushing back? Memories you didn't even realize were there? There's another wonderful book called Feelings Buried Alive Never Die which teaches that negative feelings are like wounds; in order to heal, they have to get air. Just getting the negative feelings expressed and onto paper will help you get rid of the toxicity - the limiting mess that is "other people's opinions." You can do this exercise frequently. It's like a bath for the soul, a purge, a way to clean your emotional house.
It's important to break free from the opinions of others. People can be like crabs in a bucket. I've been told that if you go to the beach and catch crabs, the best way to prevent the escape of any crab from your bucket is to make sure there are other crabs in the bucket. Why? Because when the other crabs see that one is about to leave the bucket, they'll reach up and pull it back in. Captivity loves company.
People who are stifled creatively have a tendency to want to hold back others who are trying to spread their wings. Delving into why people behave this way is beyond the scope of this article, but it doesn't need much explaining. All of us who have tried to go for our dreams have felt the pull back or the put down from others who didn't have the courage to go for their dreams and who now feel the need to hold us back. Remember, captivity loves company. It is company you don't want to keep. You especially don't want to hold onto the memories of the times your creative efforts were met with negative resistance.
By the way, I highly recommend that you read The Artist's Way and go through all of Cameron's exercises. If you feel like you need additional work to help you resolve these negative experiences, her book contains a series of exercises that will help you. I have done the whole program and it is a life changer.