Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Two, Day One/Two/Three

Sorry about the delay, this week's chapter has given me a lot to mull over, and I wasn't sure how to formulate it into a post.

If you recall, Week One was all about recovering safety as an artist. If we don’t feel safe, we don’t create. (And most of our lack of safety comes from our own critical thoughts.)

Week Two is about “Recovering a Sense of Identity.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well, one way to understand it is that it’s about defining your needs and desires, and then protecting them from others who would disregard (or crush) them.

Think of it this way: If you don’t know what you need (to live a happy, creative life) and you don’t know what you desire (to push you towards growth), then you don’t know who you are. You're kind of just going through the motions of life, but not really living life.

And, most importantly, if you can’t define these things for yourself, then it’s easy to lose yourself in others’ lives.

This isn’t about selfishness, but self-protection.

We lose ourselves in two ways:

1) By denying that we are creative beings and have a right to creativity. (And this occurs through our negative, self-defeating thoughts.)

2) By allowing others to define who we are, and impose their needs and wants over our own.

Today, I’ll talk about number one, or the “you” factor.

If you’re like me, you believe what you think. You take all your thoughts as truth, and live your life based upon those truths. (Really, everyone does this.) And it’s absolutely wrong!

When it comes to our thoughts, what you and I consider truths are actually subjective opinions that we habitually think about. And this is true for every thought we have. (This is not to say that our thoughts can’t be true, because many are, but only that we don’t have to consider them true and then base our lives on those misinterpretations.)

Maybe a personal example would help, yes?

I have always thought that to be a “real” artist you had to be able to paint completely realistically, as if a picture were taken of the object. And because I defined an artist in this manner, it became my truth. And therefore, I did not consider myself an artist.

I have based my whole life on a “truth” that I told myself was true. Does this make any sense?

And many of our “truths” lead to doubts and skepticism.

“I can’t possibly write a poem! Poets are people who dress in black and have the collection of T. S. Eliot memorized.”

“I’m not an artist! I just like scrapbooking. Artists are people who make art that hangs on walls.”

A limiting belief that we take as “truth” leads to a doubt, fear, and inaction.

Now, where does skepticism come in to play?

How about another personal example:

“It was just a coincidence that a poem I posted on my blog was published in a literary journal. It had nothing to do with any actual talent or guidance/influence from God. In fact, God doesn’t care one way or another if I’m creative.”

Skeptic of talent, skeptic of guidance, skeptic of purpose, and all because of a thought I chose to believe as the truth.

[I’m going to stop here on this issue. But, I could go on and on about our thoughts and how they affect our lives. (I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject, and it’s a secret passion of mine. Next time you come over to my apartment, ask me to show you the collection of books I have dealing the topic. You’ll think I’m a nut!)]

Up next, the second way we lose ourselves, and what Julia says about the crazymakers in our lives!

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