Free To Create It!
Here’s some advice from a viral golden nugget that started circulating around 2019 or earlier. It’s entitled “Reminders for the Anxious/Depressed Creatives”, and it offers this advice:
“You are more than what you make.
Your productivity does not determine your value.
It’s okay to do nothing sometimes.
Not everything you do has to result in a product.
Not everything you make has to be important, significant, or even good.
You can make things just for yourself.
You can keep secrets for yourself, whether it’s not posting some of your projects or not sharing your techniques.
You’re allowed to say ‘No.’
You’re allowed to rest.”
I was not able to determine who created this masterpiece, but it offers some wonderful advice for us ADHD’ers. It highlights the thinking trap we sometimes fall into - that our identity and our productivity are the same thing. Believing this leads to having our identity wrapped up in what we do rather than who we are. There’s little room for self-care, rest, and relaxation with a performance-based self-image.
Us creative people too easily wind up basing our identity on our creating. This mindset is also reflected in a common statement among athletes, “You are only as good as your last game.” But let’s think about that. So, I can practice playing an instrument for years, even decades, and become highly proficient at it. I can have a history playing that same instrument in music school, then in small venues, then in packed-out grand concert halls, leaving fans thrilled throughout the house. BUT, if I have one bad night - if i break a string or miss a cue or can’t find the beat - then am I really back down to being a horrible musician? NO! But it will probably feel like that for a little while.
One of the most interesting items in this list is the clarification that “Not everything you make has to be important, significant, or even good.” Sometimes we just want to make stuff or play music for the sake of making stuff or playing music. It’s refreshing to remind ourselves that the product doesn’t have to be of great value. Our creation can just be. So can its creator. Sure, there’s great value to creating important things, but there’s also great value in creating a total flop of a project. This is because we got to create in the first place!
This list calls us to calm our Default Mode Network. We are invited here to quiet the voices of shame, self-doubt, blame, and regret in order to just make something. We can release our concerns and bypass our unhelpful inner barriers to let creativity flow! (See previous blog posts for more on the Default Mode Network!)
But, why is the act of creating so important, anyway? The answer is simple: Self-Care. You can’t care for anyone else, you can’t do a good job at work, and you can’t be present in the moment unless you engage in self-care. For the creative person, self care looks like creating!
So go down to the basement and record that song. Pick up the clay and make that sculpture or pottery. Break out the easel and create that image you’ve been imagining. And afterwards, if you’d like to talk through any anxious or depressed feelings with a trusted therapist, give me a call. You can find my website at www.altmancounseling.com or call me directly at 770 615 6300. I look forward to hearing from you!