“I’m just not a creative type” – it’s something I hear all the time. As a Psychologist and Coach I often work with individuals, executives and organisations to help them achieve peak performance, combat stress and improve wellbeing and productivity. One of the ways I do this is by encouraging them to find ways they can liberate and express themselves creatively. However, one of the difficulties I often face, is that so many people I work with have decided that they’re simply not the ‘creative type’, just because they don’t fit the stereotype.
I find this limiting attitude fascinating because the truth is that, as human beings, we all have an innate capacity for creativity. You can see this in children: you don’t need to teach it to them, you just let them experiment, enjoy themselves, and try not to place too many restrictions on them. Generally, as a society we’re quite encouraging of creativity in children during nursery and the early years at school. Whether it is through crafting, painting or learning to play a musical instrument. We give them the time, the space and the tools for exploration. Essentially, we give them permission to express their innate creativity.
As children get older, we start to demand more of them by setting targets, goals and syllabuses. We begin to regulate their output and place restrictions on them, preferring that they attain certain goals we’ve pre-determined to be desirable. Being creative for creativity’s sake starts to be seen as indulgent, time-wasting and unproductive. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with setting goals and achieving desirable outcomes, I wouldn’t be a Psychological Coach if I thought that. It’s just that we tend to go too far, and we forget that there’s another vital need we have and which must be fulfilled if we are to stay happy, healthy and frankly, sane!
Some people are more in touch with their creative side – and how to unlock it – than others. In adulthood some people do choose to follow creative career paths. However, for many others, their opportunity to be creative declines as ‘real life’ and ‘adulting’ take over – and that’s not a good thing. As Professor Brené Brown puts it: “Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame. We are creative beings. We are by nature creative.”
Recent research conducted by new art app Bloom helps to illuminate this. It showed that 64% of UK adults aged 55 to 64 feel “creatively frustrated”, two thirds of people in this age bracket (76%) want to be more creative in their everyday lives and 30% haven’t done anything creative for over a year.
This suggests to me that people instinctively feel a need to be in touch with their creative side and do appreciate the importance of an outlet. So with so many people feeling unfulfilled and frustrated, perhaps it’s time to start prioritising time for creativity, simply for creativity’s sake, and exploring opportunities to build time into our days to express ourselves creatively.
Try taking up a hobby: join a life drawing class, take a cookery course or write a blog. You could also try immersing yourself in creative environments such as art galleries in your free time. Perhaps you could get a quick creativity fix by writing a poem or using a fun art app like Bloom, which is specifically designed to get your creative juices flowing. Anything that gives you that all-important outlet, even if it’s for just five minutes a day, will help you get in touch with that part of yourself.
The great thing is that, by getting creative, you’ll feel good! The research also found that people felt happy and proud after getting creative, and 63% of 55 to 64 year olds said it was an important way for them to relax and relieve stress. More than half said they’d done something creative, like writing a blog or painting, to help them deal with a challenging time in their life. The research showed that getting creative is something that can benefit anyone and is certainly not just something for so-called “creative types”.
So, no matter who you are or what you do, take it from me: you almost certainly ARE a creative type, you just haven’t found the right ‘type’ of creativity for you yet.