Feeling Inadequate Creatively
July 09, 2018
Dear Allyson,

Have you ever feel like you were artistically inadequate, and if so, how did you overcome this? Inspired by many artists and musicians, I compare myself to the work of others and beat myself up over not having done as much, or for not being detail oriented enough. That cycle of self sabotage usually leads to stagnant periods in my creative flow. To continue creating, I have to address this negative cycle, but somedays I get so discouraged. At those times, I can't even imagine picking up a guitar or writing or doing anything creative. I’m in my early 20's and its always been my dream to devote my life to art and music. My band broke up earlier this year after working together for two years. It has been difficult to continue creating and I’ve become depressed over my lack of self expression. I’d appreciate any advice.

Thanks,

Calypsomah
Ask Allyson Image
Dear Calypsomah,

Comparing ourselves to the greatest artist we know and seeing how our work falls short is very common when we demand of ourselves creative excellence. The great late spiritual teacher, Krishnamurti called this feeling “creative discontent.” Here is what he said:
"Creativeness is not merely a matter of painting pictures or writing poems, which is good to do, but which is very little in itself. What is important is to be wholly discontented, for such total discontent is the beginning of the initiative which becomes creative as it matures; and that is the only way to find out what is truth, what is God, because the creative state is God.

So one must have this total discontent -- but with joy. Do you understand? One must be wholly discontented, not complainingly, but with joy, with gaiety, with love. Most people who are discontented are terrible bores; they are always complaining that something or other isn't right, or wishing they were in a better position, or wanting circumstances to be different, because their discontent is very superficial. And those who are not discontented at all are already dead.

If you can be in revolt when you are young, and as you grow older keep your discontent alive with the vitality of joy and great affection, then the flame of discontent will have an extraordinary significance because it will build, it will create, it will bring new things into being. For this you must have the right kind of education, which is not the kind that merely prepares you to get a job or to climb the ladder of success, but the education that helps you to think and gives you space -- space not in the form of a larger bedroom or a higher roof, but space for your mind to grow so it is not bound by any belief, by any fear.”

It is indeed common to allow creative discontent to be an excuse not to pursue being all we can be. Giving up is common. Excellence is rare, indeed.

To be among the rare, practice daily and get to the serious hard work it takes to be proficient and confident in technique, style and craft. To experience accomplishment, practice daily and in every mood. Both mental and physical health has been proven to be a function of participation. Play where others can hear you. Go listen to the music of others.

If depression pervades and your mind is keeping you from a life you'd love, seek council from a book, a friend or family member, clergy you trust, a professional counselor or psychotherapist. Alex recommends the book Transforming Depression: Healing the Soul Through Creativity by David H.Rosen.

Alex says:

Artists we have known almost universally deal with periods of depression. Self-reflection leads to judgement and we freeze and become incapable of producing artistic works of lasting value. How do we get past this?

Choose a subject in alignment with the highest good for the greatest number — art for the benefit of all.

Identify what you feel is most worth sharing and possibly immortalizing.

Love,
Allyson
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