In Part One of this post, I wrote about how important it is to honor the transitions between our “creative space” and our time interacting with others. It’s recognizing those transitions (even if they happen very quickly) that allows us to set boundaries that support our creativity.
(And when I talk about creative space, I mean not only the period of time in which we are actually tangibly creating, but also our solitary reflecting/processing/being time — which is vital for so many of us.)
It can be difficult enough to honor our own commitment to show up for creating regularly, whether that’s journaling, painting, working on our business or writing a book. But what about when those around us don’t support us in our regular habit of creating?
This can be a truly frustrating place to be.
In Part One, I wrote about how when I was a child I had a deep need to go off by myself and write, draw, or simply daydream.
What I didn’t say in that post was that my family and friends were not always terribly thrilled with my doing this.
At a certain point, the people around me began encouraging me not to be so “introverted”, and before I knew it my life became a flurry of activity and achievement with hardly any solitary “being” time. In fact, it wasn’t until I was out of college that I actually — slowly — began to recognize my need for solitude and to — slowly — give it to myself.
And that took a certain amount of courage, in a culture that worships “busy” and “tangible goals.”
In fact, I remember frequenting a cafe when I was twenty-three and working at a bookstore. When I was done with work, I’d stop at the cafe, have a coffee, and do Natalie Goldberg‘s “writing practice” (I was a huge fan of Natalie’s books at the time and still am).
After I’d done this for a while, the owner of the cafe came up to me one day and said, “I see you here almost every day, writing. Are you writing a book?”
“No,” I said, “I’m doing something called ‘writing practice’.” I explained to him Natalie’s concept of writing as a daily practice, as a way of grounding and connecting with ourselves.
The cafe owner shook his head and let out a deep sigh. “This is no good,” he said. “You won’t get anywhere doing that.”
I could see the sincerity in his eyes and I honestly think he was trying to be helpful. But I never went back to that cafe. I felt stupid writing there after that.
And I didn’t even know the guy! When it’s our family or friends who don’t support our creative practice, that can really sting.
So what to do if those around us aren’t supportive, or even blatantly disrespect, our need for creative space?
This isn’t an easy one, but here are a few things that may help:
1) Reaffirm on a daily basis WHY it is important for you to have this time and space to yourself. When you’re regularly connected to why you’re doing it — at a deep level — it matters much less if others “get it” and support it.
2) In keeping with point #1, remember that others act as a mirror for our beliefs.
Part of the reason I was so bothered by the cafe owner’s statement all those years ago was because I had not yet owned the importance of my writing for ME. I wasn’t yet sure that I wasn’t doing something pointless by showing up to the cafe to write, so his words easily shook my not-yet-sound foundation.
Today, if someone were to say that to me, I’d probably be curious about his belief, but it wouldn’t throw me off balance (though I’d choose to be around more supportive energy). I’ve bitten down on the root of my need to write regularly so deeply that it doesn’t matter to me if a stranger questions what I’m doing.
3) Know that your commitment to your creative process may trigger those who want to do the same but just aren’t there yet. It may also shift your relationship with loved ones a little (or a lot). Remember you can always reassure them that this time is for you and that it will actually contribute to you having a better relationship with them. And let them know that it’s totally okay for them to establish their own creative practice, in their own way — you’ll support them in it, too.
4) Get clear on what kind of support you need. Sometimes our loved ones don’t know HOW to support us. It’s okay to tell them what feels supportive and what doesn’t.
5) Take note of the people in your life who DO support you in creating and seek out more of that support, whether that’s in person or online (preferably both as we can use true support in BOTH worlds!).
6) Be willing to let go of your need to be nice. I used to think I had to let go of certain relationships in order to feel more supported in my creative practice (and occasionally that’s been true). But I came to see that, more often, what I truly needed to let go of was my desire to be “nice” and constantly available for those relationships in ways that interfered with carving out my own creative space.
What do you have to add? How do you set boundaries around your creative practice when others aren’t supportive? I’d love to know.