We all need relationships that help us to feel special, safe, and understood. Real-life relationships that foster these feelings in us are the fundamental ground in which we find the courage and hope that we need to create. But what if we do not have such relationships in our life? Is creativity impossible?
Karen Walant, PhD, in CREATING THE CAPACITY FOR ATTACHMENT, points out that "mankind's natural orientation is to be immersed in relationships, whether they be in internal or external contact with others". In other words, we are inclined toward connection and can be strengthened even by imagining these kinds of support. In the absence of real-life supportive relationships (or in addition to the ones we might already enjoy), the healthy, forward-moving part of our self reaches for this experience of connection through imagination. We fantasize about an appreciative audience or pleasing someone we admire and respect or belonging to a group of peers who understand and appreciate our work. Imagining supportive connections provides us the fuel to continue our attempts at creative immersion and sustains us through the various blocks and fears we encounter along the way.
Actually, imagining connections with others can be the seeds of creative urge. If we can imagine having an impact, being understood, or making a difference, we are energized to action. We use fantasy to begin and sustain our creativity. An actor I worked with revealed his sustaining fantasy: "I imagine hearing the applause, feeling filled up by how brilliant they think I am." Another woman, now a renowned opera singer, described how "As a child, I used to play that I was the conductor of a huge orchestra and would imagine receiving standing ovations. Who am I kidding? I still have that fantasy." And a writer said, "I suppose that down deep I believe that my book will change the world. I will be famous. I will be rich. I will be respected."
The types of connections we imagine (often subconsciously but almost constantly in our moment-to-moment experience) have a powerful impact on our capacity to enter into an immersive state. When we pay attention to this dimension of our internal experience, we realize how our capacity to immerse is determined by the nature of our imagined connections. Just as imagined supportive connections can help us to immerse, we can also feel blocked from our creativity if we imagine hostile or disinterested connections.
What is the nature of your imagined audience? Are they supportive and appreciative or critical and judgemental?
Causes Anne Paris Supports
Savethechimps.org, Bonobokids.org, Elevate Hope Foundation