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monsters
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Maria Chatzi : Creativity and the Monsters

p a r t   o n e

Creativity and the Monsters

By Maria Chatzi

monsterIf you want to be true to your creative self, and make your contribution to our world, there is no room for fear. Whatever it is you envision to create, courage is the foundation on which you have to build to make your creative dream a reality.

Authentic creativity is fearless. As it reaches out to a life of purpose and happiness, it goes beyond any limitations. Creativity is an ever-lasting adventure, with pleasant and unpleasant surprises waiting for you at crossroads or every other turn of the road. And, just like in all good adventure stories, you find a monster hiding behind every corner.

Fighting the Monsters

I’ve been a creative person my whole life and, yes, I’ve encountered lots of evil monsters on my creativity travels. I had to fight with them and it wasn’t always a fair fight. There were times they proved to be more persistent than I was, so they seemed to be stronger than they actually were. There were other times they tricked me into losing the battle. I’ve often faced despair.

monsterBut I did not give up. I couldn’t give up. Giving up creativity was like giving up my identity, like giving up life. I regained my forces and prepared for their next attack. Each time they attacked me, I was able to defend myself better than the previous time — I had become aware of the enemy’s tactics and improved my warrior skills. Eventually, the monsters started getting smaller and smaller, weaker and weaker. The courage to fight for my creative identity was making them lose their powers and empowering me.

You may be familiar with some of these evil monsters. Here’s a short list of the ones you’re most likely to encounter or have already encountered.

THE TEN HIDEOUS MONSTERS
  1. Self-doubt
  2. Market’s rejection (of your idea or product)
  3. Failure to reach your goals
  4. monsterNot fitting in
  5. Being trapped
  6. Ambiguity
  7. Change
  8. Mistakes
  9. Risk-taking
  10. Criticism

It is a fact that one’s bravery is proved in the battlefield. Obviously, all I had to do is continue being courageous and fighting my battles.

monsterThe list of battles I had won got longer and longer every year. With time, some of the monsters turned into such tiny things that they didn’t scare me at all any more — such a relief! Most of them would no longer visit my dreams at night. It became clear I had the qualities of a winner.

Was I pleased with myself for developing ways to get rid of most of these hideous monsters? Well… yes…, I could say it boosted my ego. So that was my triumph, right? Hmm… I was not so sure.

It didn’t feel as right and as peaceful as I supposed a grand victory would. Was I to be proud of the outcome? I had mixed feelings of my achievement. Had I really solved the problem or was it only a defeat of the enemy, void of meaning? Being honest to myself, I wasn’t certain what there was to celebrate. Since creativity, like life, is an on-going adventure, the monsters in this story could get stronger and strike again any time, especially if they found their rival weak — it is very unlike adventure stories for young children, in which the monster is defeated once and for all. That meant I would have to be in the warrior-attitude for a lifetime. How dreadful for a life-long plan! What a waste of energy!

monsterThis world needs our care and help badly, and life is too short for us to be wasting our brains, skills and efforts on wars with no end. There had to be another way to deal with the monsters, a better and more fulfilling, a more creative one.

The answer came with a shift in perception. What if I was wrong? What if they weren’t as evil as I perceived them? Aha! All I had to do is change the way I had been thinking about them! That would, of course, change the way I felt about the monsters and it would finally lead me to changing the way I had been dealing with them.

I decided to stop worrying about them, to get reacquainted with them, to try to understand them and, perhaps, learn from them. Easier said than done. It was much more difficult than fighting against them. Humans have a strong bond with their habits — we very easily get rolling back to our disastrous old ways and our old destructive beliefs. Attempting to be friends with the monsters was a huge challenge to face — it demanded tons of courage.

monsterAnd it still does. It always will. Because after you make a friend you then need to keep the friendship alive, appreciate what you’ve got and honor it. It’s no different with the monsters. But it is a friendship worth the attempt, your time and all the efforts.

Today, the monsters I had dreaded for so many years are no longer a threat to me. Now that is a triumph! And if feels as right and as peaceful as a real victory would!

If these monsters are in your creative life too, stop fighting them. Instead, allow them to be your friends. How is that possible? Read Part 2 of this article. •

Continue to part 2 »

Updated 1/21/14