When I tell people I’m an art therapist, the second most common response I get (‘what’s that?’ being the first) is ‘oh I couldn’t do that, I’m not creative. I can’t draw’.
And they generally look at me, dubious and disbelieving, when I say you don’t have to know how to draw to use art therapy to heal hurts, get out of ruts, explore your dreams and revolutionise your life, because it’s not about the the thing you draw, the end result – it’s about what happens while you’re in the process of doing it.
A few things make me sad about this – it makes me sad that we’re conditioned to believe that art is something unreachable, it goes behind glass on walls in galleries and the making of it belongs solely to lucky people who are born with innate talent, a bundle of paintbrushes in their tiny hands straight from the womb.
It makes me sad that we’re taught to relate to creativity in the same way – we’re ‘not creative’ if we don’t ‘have talent’, if we don’t think we can make things that look the way we think they should look, and we say, apologetically, ‘I can’t even draw stick figures’.
I believe that we’re all inherently creative, either consciously or unconsciously. We create ourselves – the way we dress, the way we do our hair, the way we move our bodies. We create our lives – the way we love, the places we live, the food we make, the children we birth. The choices we make that express who we are. Making art is just one way out of countless ways we have to be creative.
It also makes me sad to see how attached people are to their beliefs about what they can’t do.
I’m not creative. I can’t draw. Oh, I couldn’t start a business, I couldn’t sell all my things and travel the world (okay fair point – maybe you can’t, at this point in time 😉 ). I couldn’t change my career, get divorced, find true love, write a book, heal my trauma, take up the xylophone, talk to a stranger, learn to sing, ask for exactly what I want, take a day off for no reason, reverse park.
Can’t is a closed door. There’s no space for possibility in ‘can’t’. No room for curiosity.
But what if we opened the door, just a little? Put our eye to the crack and took a peek at what might be possible. What if we let ourselves be a little bit curious.
Children are great at this – they don’t really do can’t. They don’t question the purpose of what they’re doing. They’re through that door and away, playing, experimenting. They’re not thinking about the finished thing, they’re not thinking about pleasing anyone with the result – even themselves. The future doesn’t exist for them, they’re in the moment, in the process of doing, creating.
Adults learn to think with one foot in the future – we consider what what we’re making has to be or do – it has to look right, be perfect, say what I want to say, live up to my ideals, meet my standards, reflect well on me, fit in enough so I’m not judged, be good enough so I’m not found wanting.
It takes willingness and practice to let go of ‘can’t’ and the part of us that measures and assesses and judges what we’re doing as we’re doing it. But when we can, even for a moment, we find freedom. The door of what’s possible flies wide open, and everything is interesting, and everything is beautiful, and our curiosity is like a beacon drawing us to the things our soul most wants, and we create magic and lives that feel like they just FIT, in ways we could never have predicted or planned for.
So here’s a gentle encouragement to notice some of the things you can’t do, and invite just a little curiosity, maybe open the door just a crack, and see what might be possible on the other side.
And if you’d like some support with that, send me a message or book a call. It’s sometimes nice to have a guide to help us open the door and find our feet as we learn to walk the road on the other side. It’d be an honour and a pleasure to have a chat and see if that’s something we might like to do together 🙂