Letting Go of the Need (for Your Art) to Be Loved

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As a follow-up to last week’s post, I’d like to delve bit deeper into this issue of just creating and not worrying too much about what comes of it (money, fame, a particular goal). I’ve found that there is a deep inner joy that comes from creating. There is a sense of peace that I feel when I am writing a song or engaged in a creative venture and I know I am not alone.  Research has shown that creating from our deepest places brings us to a state of flow and is very enjoyable.

The complications generally begin once we have expectations for (people will love it/me, this will make me famous/rich, this will get me that job) or concerns about (my family will hate me for ratting them out in that novel I wrote) those creations.  At that point, you are no longer in the pure mode of creating, but you have moved into a space of fear.  Blech.

Here’s a look at how it often goes down: Recently, I recorded a song that I had helped a songwriting student of mine write. He left the studio on a high, not even believing that what started out as some words on paper ended up sounding so great. He was beyond thrilled.

Two days later I got a call from him asking if we could change some of the words as well as the form of the song.

“Let me guess,” I told him, “You showed it to some friends and they didn’t love it.”

“Yes, how did you know?”

Well of course that was what happened!  The creative process had been hard work but it was fun and exciting. Once he had an expectation for his song (everybody will love it), it got complicated and ruined all the fun.

So, here’s my advice advice for maximizing your fun, creative time and not getting caught up in people’s reactions to it: When you’re creating something, try as much as possible to stay in that creative space and not worry about what will happen to your creation once it’s complete. The more you have expectations for or concerns about the future, the harder it is to create it. Those feelings take you out of the pure expansiveness of flow and plunk you right back into the narrowness of worry and fear.   Nothing kills those creative juices off quicker that any thought about where this thing is going. Nothing good was ever created from that space. The minute you have any thoughts of fame, you – and your creation – are dead meat.

So, what do you do after you’ve created something and sent it out into the world? How do you control people’s reactions to it and make it is well received? The answer is: you can’t. Once your creation is out there in the world, let it go.  It’s no longer yours. You created something to make people’s lives better (to help them feel something real, to let them know they’re not alone, to make them laugh or smile) so let them enjoy it.  You don’t have to control where it goes and you don’t have to control people’s reactions to it. And you can’t. And, guess what?  Not everybody will like or care about what you create. But here’s the good news: there are 7 billion people in this world. Stop worrying about the 6.99 billion people who don’t like/know about/care about what you do and start finding the thousands who will relate to and benefit from your work . Then give them something incredible, born from that expansive state of flow.

Happy creating!

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