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Krylyn Peters Jul 1, 2010

Getting Unstuck: Lessons from Creativity

How many times to do you hear people talking about being stuck? Stuck in relationships. Stuck in financial situations. Stuck in jobs. Stuck in thoughts. Stuck in fear. Stuckness seems to be an epidemic. But we, as counselors, know that the idea of being stuck is really more about perspective and less about all that other stuff.

There’s an ebb and flow to life, to moods, to progress. Yet, it seems in our Tweeting, drive-through, instant-gratification society, we just don’t want to have anything to do with that. Any moments we aren’t moving at the speed of light toward happiness we perceive as wasted time.

As a creative person, the idea of ebb and flow is quite familiar to me. Inspiration strikes and I’m working for 10 hours straight on a song without moving from one spot. Inspiration evades and no ideas come or nothing I write sounds good. When I was younger, I would get upset that inspiration didn’t follow my commands of showing up when, where, and how I wanted. I used to call it a slump, or writer’s block, or being stuck. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to look at it a bit differently. From my own experience with the ebb and flow of inspiration, I’ve learned to:

1.Allow, not force or coerce, an idea to flow. It will show up in its own time. Sometimes this means focusing on something else entirely and giving my brain a rest. It also means not getting in the way of an idea once it comes. I call this a “stream of consciousness” approach, à la Freud, just letting the ideas flow, even if they don’t seem to make sense at the time.
2.Accept my ideas without judgment, as both part of and separate from myself. Inspired ideas come from anywhere and everywhere and are not only a representation of my experience and my perspective but also a manifestation of messages from intuition, spirit, or whatever you call that place that just knows. Sometimes I find my thoughts seem very random but as they unfold, they blossom into nuggets of wisdom. If I passed judgment during the process, these insights might never see the light of day.
3.Honor the quiet moments. Because writing music is a cathartic experience for me, I often have very strong emotional responses during the writing process. It’s not uncommon for me to weep with joy or sadness, depending on the theme of the song. But, if I had to live in that intense emotion all the time, I wouldn’t be able function. I’ve come to enjoy the times between the inspiration - the stillness, the anticipation - knowing they are preparing me for what is yet to come.

It’s easy to see how these seemingly simple, yet powerful, ideas about creativity and inspiration translate into our work with clients, work that most of us are likely already doing. It’s important for us to help our clients realize that stuckness is just a temporary state of thinking.

Krylyn Peters is a counselor and singer/songwriter (aka songwriting therapist™) who uses the power of music and sound for healing.
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