You know how kids, especially the little ones, just come out with whatever it is that’s on their mind? And they just do whatever it is they feel like doing, with absolutely no filter? Singing and dancing one moment, pain and anguish the next, and just as quickly drawing all over the walls with crayons again? Have you ever watched them and thought, "I wish I could do that?" I sure have.
Expression is not just for kids and artists -- it’s for everyone. We were designed to speak, create, share. The statements we’ve learned to use, like “I’m just not creative,” simply aren’t true, and it’s time we stop hiding behind them.
The impulse for creative expression may have been buried deep under the messages you received in childhood. You may have turned away from expression if it magnified thoughts or beliefs about yourself and your abilities (“I’m not a real writer,” “I’m not talented / skilled / experienced, so why try,” or “No one cares what I have to say.”). You may have choked back a lot of words in your day, left more than a few stories untold. Put on the backburner of consciousness precious projects that didn’t seem to have any obvious “value.” And you may have become loud in other ways, yelling as loud as you could above others to be heard and acknowledged, but very quiet about what was really true for you.
But the creative spark is still in you, waiting, and not only that -- it’s essential to health and healing, for yourself and for everyone. You can't hold it all in anymore, not in these times; you and whatever it is you like to create are needed. My breathwork teacher David Elliott says, “creativity is the shortcut to healing!” It provides an outlet for ideas and emotions. It plugs you back into your true self, something bigger than you, and insights beyond the reach of your thinking mind. It keeps energy flowing. And your self-expression helps other people, either through the work you share or through the simple fact that your expression offers permission and invitation to others to express themselves. We all deserve to be visible.
Expression is now as important for my health as drinking enough water and getting 8 hours of sleep. But for a long time, I didn’t allow myself the time and space to create things, because I didn’t trust or value myself enough to believe I had anything to say. I also felt afraid to be visible, saying the wrong thing, being a target -- there was a part of me that felt very sure that it wasn’t safe for me to fail or make mistakes, so I didn’t say or make much of anything at all. While this may not be true for you, perhaps there’s something in the way I used to silence myself that you can relate to.
Breathwork was a huge part of my process of learning to value myself, trust my voice, honor my creative impulses. So much energy is moved when you're breathing in that intense way, that it'd be much harder work to try and stay stuck! The heart is expanded, the throat chakra is opened, and you have no choice but to speak, sing, write, create. Through breathwork, I grew comfortable with being seen and heard and acknowledged by others in a big way. And also, I grew comfortable with people disagreeing with me, letting me know I didn't tell them the things they wanted to hear, pointing out my errors (sometimes, unkindly), or not liking me altogether -- things that have definitely happened and will definitely continue to as long as I keep sharing.
Oprah said, "You cannot live a brave life without disappointing some people," and since that quote hits me so hard, guess I'm going for a little more bravery in the go-round of this lifetime!
For some people, creative expression looks like the things we think of as “art” like painting, drawing, writing, singing, or making music. For others, cooking, gardening, building, crafting, or teaching are soul-nourishing creative tools. For me, it’s doing healing work, knitting, writing Instagram posts, and making things just for the fun of it, like essential oil blends and the book I'm working on.
Do you have a creative practice that you never seem to get around to doing, or that you gave up long ago? And what if your health depended on your self-expression -- how might you rearrange your time and activities to support it?
Is there something you can make, right now?
Can you sing a song, right now?
Can you draw a little something, right now?
I don't know if it's lingering in your attic or garage or closet or folder on your computer, but I'll be you know exactly where that part-done project is, and there is no better time than right now to pull it out. Shake the dust of. Get to making!
Do you need support getting those muscles working again? I recommend the exercises in David Elliott's book Healing, or schedule a breathwork session if it feels right (in person in NYC or online).