The Creative Route to your Authentic Self

By Cara Faye | Posted 3/14/08 | Updated 2/18/23

In a world that values the rational over the intuitive, it's hard to understand the relevance of creativity. It doesn't have guaranteed, measurable outcomes, it takes up precious time, and we don't fully understand it, so we don't trust it.

Creativity is the energy with which we recreate ourselves on a daily basis. We see it when we apply new ideas to solve a problem and when we are simply following our imaginations from one point to another — essentially doodling in any medium. These two distinct forms of creativity are utterly interdependent — you can't have one without the other.

While they may not be specifically measurable, there are at least three significant benefits of exercising our creativity:

  1. it connects us with our authentic selves, by focusing our attention on what we love and what's important to us.
  2. It invigorates us and replenishes our energy — when we engage our creative minds we move beyond the daily grind of shoulds and musts, producing a significant mind shift with benefits similar to those of meditation.
  3. And by clarifying our interests and invigorating our souls, creative play allows us to think beyond our current circumstances and generate more options, not just for ourselves but also others around us — think of how many lives are touched by movies, beautiful buildings, music, not to mention how innovation in any business changes the range of products or services we have access to.

Creativity is universally acknowledged as a mystery, even by those who work with it a lot. But that mystery has been misinterpreted in our rationally driven society. It's not about how to access our creativity, it's about where ideas come from. From scientists to esoteric leaders, many great minds continue to ponder the question "where was an idea before we had it?" — and so far we don't have an absolute answer.

But this doesn't stop us from having and developing ideas in the mean time — in fact, the more we play with ideas the more we are able to generate. It's all about letting our imaginations run, then run some more, and then some more again, each time coming to a new insight or understanding which in turn leads to new ideas.

There are so many different ways to represent something, all describing different aspects of that item, and expressing how we feel about them. Take the simple example of a flower: it can be drawn in simple lines, rendered in pinks and pastels, bright strong primaries, or even dark sombre colours. It can be described in words poetically or prosaically, positively or negatively, and we even use perfumes and air fresheners to evoke their presence as a scent.

By constantly experimenting with different representations, we explore the many different associations we have with that item, all of which illuminate something about ourselves — our feelings, our passions, and our dreams. Getting to our own truth is about rigorously exploring the things that interest us, interacting with our imaginations on a regular basis.

So, how would you describe a favoured item to a close friend? To a new acquaintance? Can you imagine it as a prop in a tragic play, or the subject of a hit song? What colours would you paint it in? If you made a shrine to it, what other items would you surround it with?

Our associations are among the most valuable clues we have for coming to know ourselves, giving us insight into our uniqueness and how we look at things differently from others.

A fun and easy way to discover the kinds of things that are connected in our imagination is using word associations. Taking the example of a flower again, try writing down three associated words, following from each other. You may come up with:

flower > leaf > autumn > wind
or flower > red > passion > affair
or flower > petal > soft > feather

When we do this we start to build up an idea of the dreams, passions and desires lying hidden inside us — from embracing nature to indulging our emotions, to gently pampering ourselves.

When looked at in this way, instead of viewing creativity as a childish waste of time, we can appreciate it as a tool for self-knowledge and expansion. Starting with a simple doodle or daydream, the more value we place on 'aimless' creative musings, the more we are able to replenish our soul, focus our intentions and really set ourselves on track to follow our bliss.

Copyright ©2007 Cara Faye. All rights reserved. Originally published in Renaissance Magazine, Feb 2007.

Cara FayeCara Faye is driven by her passion to unlock the creative abilities inherent in every person. ...