Many people told me that I was an unconventional therapist. I knew that they meant something along the lines of “odd” and “quirky,” but I took zero offense to that. That’s how I saw myself, too.
I had never been a typical mental health professional who wore sophisticated clothes and accepted clients in a posh office. Instead, I transformed an apartment downtown into a creative space. That’s where my clients could paint, draw, do pottery, or do anything artistic to express themselves.
Due to my unique methods, though, I must admit that I attracted individuals with creativity issues. They ranged from painters to dancers to project developers – practically anyone who struggled to get fresh ideas from their beautiful minds.
For such problems, I often shared three ineffective ways to boost creativity.
Stop Forcing Yourself To Be Creative
The first thing that I would strongly advise you not to force yourself to be creative. I had seen many people do this; I made the mistake of doing the same thing one too many times in my younger years. After all, people said that pressure could be the miracle you might be looking for to get the creative gears running. But that’s super unhealthy.
Why might you ask? That’s because pressuring yourself to do something could not mean that you were putting yourself under a lot of stress. The stress could block the creative juices from flowing more, making it impossible to achieve your goal. Failing to get the job done at that point could make you feel worse than ever since you put so much effort into it.
The Solution: Relax. Tell yourself, “Okay, I have no clue how to make things work right now, but I am not going to stress myself about it because I know that it won’t help anyone.”
If you worry about seeming like you only do the bare minimum, don’t. You are merely letting your brain get some rest so that it can come up with answers to your problems later.
Assuming That You Know Everything That Will Not Work
One of my colleagues once referred a young painter to me who came to her for help because he felt like his creativity was gone. She was like, “He had a mild anxiety and could use a guide on how to process his thoughts and express them through his work.”
When I met the guy, we went through the usual motions of therapy. Then, I asked him to explain his process to me. He said, “Well, when I think of a project, I tend to get stuck when my mind comes up with all these ideas that I knew will never work. That frustrates me since they take a lot of room in my head, and the more valuable ideas don’t get enough space.”
While I was not a painter, I knew that creativity was supposed to be judgmental. Immediately dictating that something would not work even if you had never tried could block the creative juices and keep you from making anything worthwhile.
My suggestion to my client – and anyone who had similar issues – was to compile every idea that would cross your mind. Write them down if you must and evaluate everything to see which one might work at another time. Having such a list could undoubtedly save you from going back to square one even when your brain would go blank.
Listening To All The So-Called Gurus Out There
In the 21st century, many self-proclaimed experts had come out to talk about how someone could become extra creative. Some of them have authored books or creating podcasts. Others had enough connections to become public speakers and fill arenas or get invited to talk shows on TV. Such people had different opinions regarding the topic, but their common denominator was that they all claimed to know the best way to boost your creativity.
Think about that last part for a minute. Saying that the gurus knew the best way to make you creative was like saying that they knew you better than you knew yourself. How offensive.
I would never want to question the techniques that the experts were recommending to others. They might be talking about the things that worked for them, and that’s amazing. At the same time, though, you are not them. What worked for the gurus might not work for you. Instead of listening to everything they told you to do, listen to yourself rather and learn what you must do to boost your creativity.
There are more creativity-boosting techniques you can find elsewhere that are nothing but fads. They are not as harmful as drugs or alcohol, but paying too much attention to them may keep you from realizing that only you can help yourself.