Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

The Dark Side of Creativity

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Lightning streaking across the skyWe’d like to apologize for the delay this week. We’ve got a doozy of an excuse!

On Monday our city experienced a massive storm with hailstones the size of cricket balls, flooding, lightning and cyclonic winds (doesn’t that sound spectacular?). Our house was left without power for almost 24 hours.

Happily, everything’s back up and running. The house suffered minimal water damage and the cars are undented. However, the experience has got us thinking about an interesting subject – how Creativity and Imagination can feed fear.

It’s very common for people to panic in dangerous or scary situations. Your mind races with possibilities, and those possibilities (no matter how remote the chances of them actually happening) scare you even further. I’m sorry to say that your Creativity is partly responsible for this reaction. But I’m here, as a representative of Creativities everywhere, to attempt an explanation of why it happens.

The Magic Question

What is the spark, the catalyst, that starts your Creativity? Well there are a number of things that can spark your Creativity, but often it’s a question: What if?

When you ask this question under relaxed circumstances, it can lead to many fantastic ideas and hours of hilarity. What if pigs could really fly? Where would they land? What if trees grew upside down? What if you crossed an alpaca with a whale shark? What if… Yeah, I love ‘what if’ questions.

But sometimes when you ask this question under stress, your Creativity picks up on this emotion and the questions turn dark. What if my parents have an accident on the way home from work? What if this weird mole turns out to be cancer? What if the wind rips our roof off?

What makes these questions all the more scary is their plausibility. These situations have happened to other people. You see, your Creativity has been doing ‘research.’ He or she remembers previous information where people have accidents, moles turn cancerous and winds damage houses. So in an attempt to be helpful, he or she focuses on real life’ what ifs.’

If your Creativity limited the questions to the ridiculous – What if my parents drove into a mound of purple goo on the way home? What if this mole turned into a sentient being capable of extreme math skills? What if the wind landscaped my garden into a perfect representation of Windsor Palace? – then you wouldn’t be anywhere near as anxious because, lets face it, have you met a mole who can multiply? However, in an attempt to be useful, we Creativities may be a little too zealous in keeping things plausible.

And If You Look Out Your Left Window…

So you’ve got an overactive Imagination and a Creativity who is being too practical for your own good. What can be done?

First of all, please don’t think that your Creativity is necessarily working against you. I’ll admit there are those Creativities out there that take perverse delight in freaking people out. But they’re fewer than we realise. Usually your Creativity is trying to be helpful. The problem is, you’re often asking the wrong questions.

Instead of asking your Creativity ‘What if?’ ‘What is that?’ ‘What might happen next?’ try changing tack. Channel your Creativity’s excitement and helpfulness into more positive areas.

Instead of viewing an event as an ordeal, view it as an adventure. Find aspects you can learn from. Savour any little part of the experience you might find enjoyable. For example, Jessica loves thunderstorms and, needless to say, Monday had thunder and lightning galore. We savoured every flash of lightning and boom of thunder. View these experiences as opportunities to notice new and amazing things. “And now, of you’ll look out your left window you’ll see the whole western horizon illuminated by the wonders of electric discharge.”

I should point out at this point that I’m not encouraging everyone to become blasé about danger and dismiss situations where serious and immediate action must be taken. I’m talking about those occasions where, through the best of intentions, your Creativity is stressing you out. Under those circumstances, try a little redirection. Remember, we want to help. 🙂

How about you? Do you have any thoughts about how Creativity contributes to stress? Or do you have tips about how to redirect your Creativity? Please let us know. 🙂

P.S. If you would like to read more about the subject of fear and the science behind it, take a look at Jeff Wise’s blog Extreme Fear.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art


One thought on “The Dark Side of Creativity

  1. Jessica, Just wanted to drop in to wish you safe travels and a wonderful journey. I love this post, much to ponder….

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