Addiction is a condition that overtakes all aspects of your life. Altering your brain chemistry in such a dramatic way affects the way you perceive and react to everything around you. Likewise, the recovery process is multifaceted, looking at all aspects of what it means to have a thriving life. Engaging in a creative activity can be a very important part of this healing process.
Creativity and addiction
Creativity is defined as the ability to come up with new ideas, and to use available materials to come up with something unique that expresses your own vision. By working in mediums such as music, drama, painting, sculpture, or simply daydreaming and letting your mind imagine new possibilities, you take the time to observe things within yourself and the world around you that would otherwise be ignored.
Popular imagination often associates highly creative people with substance abuse, and many people may even be led to believe that their addiction “causes” creativity. A quick look at the many writers, musicians, or artists who battled addiction and got sober will reveal the truth. Addiction made it increasingly difficult to function, and recovery gave them the clarity of mind to produce their best work ever.
You don’t have to be a “great artist” in order to get the benefits of doing creative work. The process of creating something can be very healing for everyone. Because it’s such a huge shift in your lifestyle, recovery from addiction can bring up a lot of strong emotions.
Talking with others, journaling, therapy, and support groups are all a very important part of the recovery process. By digging deep within yourself, you bring these feelings and thoughts to the surface, where you can deal with them and start to heal.
However, some of our deepest feelings aren’t always easily put into words, or aren’t things we’re ready to share with others directly. Accessing creative parts of yourself enables you to work through these deeper emotions, and engaging in an activity to express them creates a safe way to share a part of yourself.
One of the most impacting parts of the recovery process is to find your deeper purpose and help others. When you share your experiences by honestly sharing the beauty of your story in unique, unconventional ways, it can have an even bigger impact, and make an important difference in someone else’s life.
How to build your creativity
First, be patient with yourself. In early recovery, you thinking might be cloudy or filled with frustration, as you focus on the hard work of adjusting to the loss of an addictive substance. Take things one day a time, thinking carefully about how to take care of yourself in a particular moment.
Building this newfound sense of self-awareness is an important part of thinking creatively. Over time, your mind will reach a place of more clarity than ever before.
One effective way of building your creativity is taking time to be present to your own mind. Sitting in silence and darkness, or going on a long walk can be effective ways of blocking out external stimuli and listening to the voice within yourself. Some people like to carry a journal with them at all times, writing down thoughts as they occur so they aren’t forgotten.
One huge barrier to creativity is perfectionism. You suppress the creativity flowing through you, because you think what you are creating is not good enough, or find yourself paralyzed trying to do something flawless.
One helpful way to set your mind free from these creativity-repressing traps is to think like a child. Be gentle to the child within yourself, and ask how you would solve a problem or view something in that playful and imaginative spirit. In creating something in recovery, your goal should not be please others, but to reveal the truth within yourself.
Simply get started doing something, and let whatever feelings come up. Whatever you produce out of your own story and experience will have its own beauty, because it is a part of your journey to healing.