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What Turns a Creative Project from Stressful to Traumatic?
Posted: 5/14/2014 | Creativity Comments
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There is something fascinating and intriguing about creative projects.

The other day, I was listening to some writers talk about how the creative projects of writing their books crossed over the line from stressful to full-out traumatic. I’ve even heard of people who had similar experiences writing a paper, as well as various kinds of artists who felt traumatized by all that a major creative project entails. That got me thinking. 

Yes, writing a book can feel stressful. Most people have to live their regular life, work their job, and fit in all the time, energy, and dedication needed to keep your ”butt in the chair,” as I’ve heard it so fondly called.  Then, of course, you’re also racing to meet deadlines and dealing with the requests and personalities of editors, agents, and publishers. Depending on the size and scope of the book, it often becomes much more that a full plate. I know for me, in the end, Your Ultimate Life Plan is a book that I can feel good about for the rest of my life, so the stress was worth it.

But as a psychotherapist for over 20 years,
I can tell you there’s a difference between stress and trauma.

All of life has stress and there are things we can do to help us with that —get enough sleep, eat healthy food, exercise regularly, and meditate to reduce any stress from one’s daily life. But getting to know our inner thoughts and feelings and why certain events seem stressful for us, is one of the most important ways to de-stress our lives.  The benefits of this are cumulative and life begins to feel less stressful most of the time.

Trauma here means:
having a deeply distressing or disturbing occurrence, in which a person experiences the quality of “too-muchness.”

There are events that happen in life that most people would experience as a big “T” trauma. Wars, school shootings, physical and sexual abuse, and natural disasters feel traumatic and can cause us to carry that trauma around physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, until we do some work around it so it can release.

But many other events in life might feel like a big “T” trauma to one person, yet not feel traumatic at all to another. The degree to which an event feels traumatic depends upon our personal history, how we carry it inside, and what happened to us in our past, especially in our childhood. If anything happens and it feels traumatic to you, or like it’s really “too much,” you might want to explore what it’s bringing up that’s connected to your past.

If you feel traumatized by the experience of intensely creative endeavor,
publishing a book, writing a paper, or any other form of creative expression,  then something from the past is coming up to be seen and healed. Something someone else is doing or something that happened is bringing up difficult feeling states that relate to your past.

Perhaps your publisher or someone else in authority does “that thing” just like your Dad,
and then unconsciously you feel scared every time you have to talk with him or her. It might help for you to look at, or do more work around, what you felt when your Dad did “that thing.” How old were you when this first occurred? What did you feel about “that thing” at different ages as you were growing up? What coping strategies did you use back then? What would it take for you to remind yourself that the publisher is not your father, and that you are an adult now and can take care of yourself in a new and different way from your past?

Please share your thoughts.
Your comments make a difference for us all.

For further information on accessing the wisdom, happiness, fulfillment, and peace you desire, click here to learn about Dr. Howard's Multiple Award Winning Book "Your Ultimate Life Plan: How to Deeply Transform Your Everyday Experience and Create Changes That Last.

photo credit David Castillo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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