Blaming ourselves stifles our creativity. But holding a grudge against others has the same stifling effect. If I am consumed with envy, my creativity is consumed in that same conflagration. If all I can think about is that dastardly literary agent to whom I’ve sent a book proposal and who hasn’t responded yet, then that’s what I’m thinking about. If I’m dreaming about revenge, I’m not also dreaming about my novel about revenge.
If, in short, the pain we experience as we deal with the world takes center stage, then those are the dramas we’ll be playing and replaying in the theater of our mind.
When we release the grip of such unproductive thoughts, we heal and help ourselves.
When you “let go” of that twelve-year-old painter you see making the television talk show circuit and being touted as the next Picasso even though her work is very ordinary, you heal your heart a little and prevent a boulder-size block from getting between you and your painting.
When you “let go” of the fact that your parents provided your brother with clarinet lessons and jazz camp and wouldn’t provide you with anything of the sort, you heal your heart a little and open up to the possibility of studying the clarinet even now. When you “let go” of the actions and successes of others, you heal your own heart.
How to Let Go
Write out your own personal enemies list. If you can’t think of anyone to put on that list, either that’s terrific news and you’re doing a wonderful job of “letting go” or you’re not admitting your own feelings of anger, resentment, and disappointment.
If it’s the former, congratulations! If it’s the latter, dig a little deeper. Create your enemies list and let the list grow as long as it must. Then, over the next few days, “let go” of your bilious feelings about each person on your list—not for his or her sake but for your own. As those feelings leave by one door, creativity can enter by another.
Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of 30 books, among them "Coaching the Artist Within" and "The Van Gogh Blues," and is widely regarded as America’s foremost creativity coach. His most recent book is Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions. He is a featured contributor to the HuffingtonPost, ArtBistro, and Art Calendar magazine. Visit Dr. Maisel at EricMaisel.com.