Thursday, June 25, 2015

Trusting Yourself: The Gateway to Creativity & Wellness

 By: Jennifer Quarrie

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.  - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

What secret goals do you harbor?  What wishes thump in your heart but remain quietly caged, set aside for another day?  We all realize we have aspirations, but do we know why we arent pursuing them?  What is stopping you?

Many of us are everyday creators, fluidly solving daily challenges in unique ways.  However, as we consider larger-scale change, inertia can become much stronger.  At times this can stall us from approaching change on our most important issues.  During an effort to explore how creativity might foster personal wellness, this phenomenon came into stark relief. 

Social Norms
While interviewing colleagues and reflecting personally on the hurdles to achieving the large-scale challenge of personal wellness, a strong theme emerged: while many were confident in their own creativity and problem solving abilities, implementing their ideal solutions often included an uncomfortable degree of bucking social norms.  Two sets of needs were set in opposition; by pursuing personal wellness needs they risked compromising sources of social acceptance and support.  The same holds true in creativity.  Creators need support to be their most creative, and yet staying true to ones ideas, craft, creative methods and personal needs sometimes opposes social norms and thus reduces that social support.

Self-Trust, Permission & Compassion
So what is required to push people past the tipping point of serving social expectations in favor of personal care and development?  First and foremost, we require self-trust to feel intuitively confident in the direction we have chosen.  Next, we require awareness of both our perceived limitations and the true results of breaking through them.  Then we must grant ourselves personal permission to exceed constraints such as personal habits, social judgment and perceived limitations.  While many seek approval from others as well, the act of acknowledging most limitation as personal threshold is important.  Finally, we require compassion to navigate any bumps in the road along the way, and honesty to see things as they are on the other side of the looking glass.

Hurdles to Self-Trust

Hint: the cage is not locked. - Nova Knutson

     Confidence - No one has a crystal ball, but most of us prefer to feel confident about our own decisions before investing significant resources or changing the direction of our lives.  As hard as it can be to estimate how your decisions may turn out, even more difficult is developing the confidence to recognize what you truly want in the first place.  A nuanced process like Creative Problem Solving (CPS) helps to expose the genuine needs at the heart of complex problems.  In addition, the thorough nature of CPS organically builds confidence as we step through the process by ensuring we have considered the issue from many vantage points.
     Perfectionism - Dont allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.  Letting go of a specific solution can open you to even better possibilities and create new opportunities.  Partial progress is much better than none at all and places you in a new position to reassess the situation for new paths forward.  Assessing the priorities involved in a challenge can make it far clearer where to begin.
     Fear of Risk - Without risk, there is very little progress.  Understanding risk and learning when and how to take it requires practice.  Start small, then begin to accept a greater possibility of failure, and discover what you can learn from the experiences. 
     Fear of Failure - Complex problems often have complex answers with changing variables.  No solution is permanent; plans are meant to change.  Recognizing that you are committing to finding the right path forward gives you the freedom to pivot as circumstances change rather than remaining wedded to a solution.
     Lack of Experience - Trusting yourself does not mean going it alone.  Sharing your goals and plans may invite positive feedback on your work, and insight toward ways in which you can build your vision.

Building Support
Change is difficult.  Making significant changes in an environment when everyone else keeps the old habits makes it even harder.  Finding support is one of the best ways to facilitate change and solidify a new path forward.  Sharing risk with others makes you more likely to make leaps you might not otherwise take alone and, in the process, build self-trust through experience.

     Build Your Tribe - Use the hyper-connectivity of the modern world to your advantage.  Find those who understand and share your passions, and work together.  Feeling understood and having support are keys to success in every endeavor. 
     Micro Cultures - Social norms grow from visionary changes that often originate from small groups (such as a few computer whizzes in a garage).  By building a clear vision of the future based on the diverse input of your tribe, the momentum and results form a culture of their own.  Participating in a micro culture can be invigorating as you experience traction for your greater vision and goals.
     Ask - Others will not know you need support unless you ask.  You may be surprised at the results.  Asking others for input or assistance solidifies your commitment to solving the problem and invites an array of input to evolve your ideas further to be their most effective or unique.  The vulnerability and honesty you share may inspire the same in return.  The bond you build through partnership may last well beyond the task at hand.  Finally, involving others also provides you support during a process of exploration and change, which may help you feel comfortable enough to pursue ideas further, and give you the confidence to implement your outcome.  And if they say no?  You may gather valuable insight through that conversation as well.

Creative Risk
Building trust in yourself empowers you to navigate unknown situations, respond to unexpected changes and pursue your deepest aspirations.  Without the awareness of your own needs and the confidence and trust to strive for them, your ability to achieve wellness and self-actualization will be inhibited.  Giving yourself permission to take risks and deconstruct limitations opens the door of opportunity.  Using CPS and creative thinking skills are excellent methods of realizing what is stopping you from pursuing your goals, identifying necessary risks to reach them, and determining the ways to take those risks while minimizing negative impact.  Trusting the creative process is a path to trusting yourself, which is in turn a key step on the road to personal wellness and fully realizing your potential.

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Bio: Jennifer Quarrie is a dynamic innovation strategist and creativity expert with a visionary outlook and a knack for metacognition, facilitation and listening. With a BA in Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia and an MSc in Creative Studies from the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at SUNY Buffalo State, she incorporates budding areas of mind and creativity research into all of her work. As a leader and speaker she inspires wellness, fosters transformation and emboldens self-actualization.

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