Your Inner-Child Called, She Wants her Creativity Back: How to Reclaim the Healing Power of Artistic Self-expression
Creativity is universal and can contribute to our sense of well-being. In fact, expressive visual art activities can decrease feelings of sadness, increase positive emotions, and reduce stress. Young children seem to know this, as they quite naturally grab whatever is available to scribble, cut, or sculpt. However, adults are oftenmuch more constrained, sometimes even paralyzed, as they approach creative self-expression. If we polled a kindergarten classroom, I expect the kids would mostly agree: adults are missing out. Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Here are a few suggestions to help adults reclaim the healing power of spontaneous artistic expression:
Create for You (and you alone!)
Around second grade, most of us begin to question our artistic abilities. Likely because at this point in child development, we begin to focus more on winning approval from others. It is this developmental change that likely contributes to the shift of focus from creative process to artistic product. “My picture isn’t as good as hers.” If adults are to rediscover spontaneous creativity, we must throw comparisons out the window, and choose to create art for ourselves – not for the satisfaction or approval of others.
Get Lost in the Experience
Young children often appear to tune out all surrounding noises and distractions when they are deeply engaged in artwork. Adults can rediscover this sort of absorbed focus if we practice and make time to turn off the television or put our cell phones on silent-mode. If we are fully present in the moment, it’s more likely we can access and express deep emotions during the creative process.
Be Willing to Make a Mess
Sometimes life is confusing, chaotic or ugly, and it’s helpful to have a way to work out or process those uncomfortable feelings. If we adults give ourselves permission to create chaotic or messy artwork, then we can begin to confront and explore the jumble of emotions hidden beneath the clutter of our lives.
When we make something new, we tend to feel more alive. So, what’s stopping you: “Go, get your creativity on!”
Melissa Blumell, ACMHC