Artistic people are frequently wide open to the emotional tides around them – writers, artists, actors, all who work with emotions as tools of their trade and the fabric of their universe, ebb and flow along the currents that inspire them, that carry them, that sometimes control them.
Is it because we explore emotions so thoroughly that we are susceptible? I suspect so. As a writer, I will speak from a writer’s perspective, but it is true across the board (you’ll each recognize it in your own art). We enter the field willingly – we weep when our characters weep, if we did not, how can we create it? The best writing is written from inside the event, not outside, so inside we must be or our words are hollow and our readers will feel nothing for our characters, nor for our effort. We feel and we want our readers to feel, so we climb inside the fence line and run with our heroes and villains and strive to capture the essence that is each one of them.
Yet what we create has repercussions in our own lives, too, and we sometimes return from our adventures exhausted. Whether we capture our desires on paper successfully or not, we lived the events in the arenas of our minds.
People are by nature curious, intelligent and problem-solvers. We pick up books or watch movies that give us a break from our own problems by allowing us to indulge in solving someone else’s problems. It’s fun. It’s what we do so well. Sometimes we are looking for solutions to our own problems through books and films and, if it gives us a spark of an idea, so be it. We like challenges. Challenges inspire us.
So… that means books and films are about challenging situations, dramatic events and as many twists and turns a writer can put in there to keep up the tension and excitement.
Artistic people, therefore, splash around a great deal in the emotional playground of creativity.
Sometimes, though, it isn’t so easy to shut it down when we go about our daily routine. We remain open, and in real life bump into situations or people that trigger emotions we would be better without. For some it can be like living in a storm all the time. Being open to joy and excitement is wonderful, but frequently it’s the other side of the coin, and it is doubts, worries and the feeling of inadequacy that can assail an artistic person and tear them down. This is also our most vulnerable time when harsh words or even toss away comments can hurt us deeply.
Another aspect of all of this is picking up the emotions of others – worse, being overwhelmed by them.
When I am too open, I find I cannot go into any crowded place, such as a shopping center. It’s like every emotion I see around me is enacted through me. The noise crowds in. Half an hour is too much, I end up seriously dizzy and ill and needing to get away. For a long time, I thought this was just how I was, but then I started experimenting and I found some simple procedures helped. And now, at the risk of sounding seriously whacky, I am going to share them with you. Remember, we are playing with thoughts and thoughts are powerful things – these thoughts work for me and they are concepts worth exploring.
Because imagination is such a strength to me, I decided to use it as my strength. Before heading into the shopping mall, or engaging with a negative person, or indeed going into an unknown situation, I mentally surround myself with a barrier. It could be a shell, a suit of armor, a cloak or even white light – use whatever appeals to you. I use white light and imagine it having a cushioning effect that slows and stops anything from reaching me. It might just be that because I am focused on that, I am not susceptible to the surrounding tide of other people’s emotions, but it does work for me.
Another thing I do is keep our house our own. It is not a public place and not open for people to just pop in when they feel like it, bringing in whatever emotions they carry. Keeping your house private seems to go against the norm for many people, and I’m not telling you to keep your friends out, but if you can keep even a little part of it as YOUR place where no one else goes, you’ll find the energy there is your own and will never be disrupted. If you can’t manage a room, then try facing into a cupboard, strange as it sounds. Set it up with things important to you that you can sit in front of and look within and feel that peace. It’s calming.
Most importantly, though, look to your feeling and your thoughts. An emotion can waft in and waft out again, but if it can trigger your thoughts into negative lines, it will stay with you. Of course it can trigger your thoughts into positive lines, too, but we have no argument with those ones and won’t be tossing them out.
You might not notice every thought that goes through your head, but you do know if your thoughts are negative or positive by how you are feeling at any given time. Are you sad? Look to your thoughts. Are you fearful? Look to your thoughts.
Some years ago, I was fearful all the time. I knew eventually it would make me ill, in a serious sense, and I really wanted to stop it kicking in automatically all the time. I could take one negative thought and turn it into an all-day banquet. How the heck could I ever move forward into a wonderful future if I was living so negatively all the time?
When I finally hit upon the solution, I really was surprised at how quickly the habit turned around. Two weeks was all it took to stop the constant practice of negative thoughts. I had tried “thinking positive”, but that didn’t seem to work. This time, I asked questions. When you ask yourself questions, you automatically answer them, so questions are important. Whenever I realized I had a negative feeling, and therefore negative words inside my head, I would ask myself to name five really good things I would like from the day. Or ten really beautiful things I could see right then and there, in the garden, in the house, anywhere I was at the time. If I couldn’t see ten beautiful things, well, I kept looking until I did. The point is, my thoughts were then focused very much on positive things, not negative ones. And if my thoughts then went back to the negative? I simply did it again, this time asking for ten or twenty things. I kept at it and ended up feeling good, not bad.
Always ask for a specified number, always make if for something positive. It halts the negative thought in its track and turns your attention to the good things in life, and yes it does take a bit of effort – at first. It becomes a habit surprisingly quickly, and your negative thinking fades away.
Yes, we are emotional beings, all of us, not just the artistic types amongst us. We tend to go where our emotions take us and often forget that our emotions are the product of our thoughts. If you’re seeing a bleak future and feel that you will never make it, and do it frequently enough, that’s going to translate into depression or tension that will not help you one iota. Quite the opposite. If your thoughts can do that, the wonderful thing is, your thoughts can take you to the other end of the spectrum as easily. Imagine instead how you’ll cope with fame, or how fantastic you feel, or how wealthy you are (even if you’re not, just yet).
If you are frightened of disappointment and don’t want to do that, then you might want to reassess what you want from life. EVERY step forward is first visualized. You cannot take any step that you do not first see and accept as your right. None of us like disappointment, but sometimes disappointment is part of a bigger development, and disappointment is never the end product. That means don’t be scared of it, and especially don’t let a fear of disappointment stop you from visualizing what you want.
The bottom line is, it’s up to you. No one can give you negative thoughts or positive ones, you have to take them and own them. You have to let them in and give them room. You and only you are in charge of what you let in and what you leave outside. So, be your own gatekeeper, have fun with your life and have fun with your thoughts. Thoughts, along with your emotions, are your most powerful tools and always will be.