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Creativity, Vulnerabity, and Saboteurs

I’m incredibly lucky to work with highly creative clients. For many of them, the desire to pursue their creativity is what brought them to me. They were tired of being afraid. They were tired of the “shoulds”. They were tired of living a life that wasn’t authentic to them, their wants, or their longings.

If you know Brené Brown’s work (and if you don’t, here’s a great intro), you know that vulnerability is the birthplace of courage, imagination, and creativity. For many of us, we know this to be true. You too have felt the relief of a risky decision paying off. You’ve experienced the flow that comes from leaving expectation at the door when embarking on a new project. You have walked away from a bad situation knowing you’re brave by keeping to your integrity. But what you also know is that each one of those moments was incredibly hard. It’s a fight to show up in the arena, vulnerable. As Julia Cameron puts it in her critically-acclaimed book The Artist’s Way:

We are victims of our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic, the Censor, who resides in our (left) brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth.

And she’s right. The Censor she mentions is our Saboteur with its incessant stream of criticism, doubt and perfectionism. Because every time we open the door to creativity, we also agree to opening the door to vulnerability, and therefore, to our Saboteur. But as terrified as my clients may be in allowing the Saboteur through the door each time they work on a creative project, they’re even more afraid of living without creativity at all. They’re even more frustrated at the thought of living in fear of their own dreams and longings. It’s from this place of courage that we work from as client and coach. We call forth their Inner Leader. We base their next moves on the values they wish to honor. We remind them of the cost of losing creativity in their life and irrefutable value it brings to their lives. Most importantly, we work together to embrace being vulnerable and courageous as the same time because as Elizabeth Gilbert points out in Big Magic:

[Creative living] is about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

And that sounds like a pretty good life well lived.

Are you curious or afraid?

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