|Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "Emotions 1-6", six handmade collages 12x17 cm|
So here's the scenario: you feel discouraged and disheartened, not knowing what to do next. It seems as if everything is against you and you are losing faith not only in other people but in yourself as well. You feel stuck and uncreative. Personally, I have been in this place many times. It's almost as if each time it gets worse, but this could be evolution in action. Challenges get tougher as you learn from life, but the rewards you reap are probably also greater. Thing is, life is naturally dynamic, and this means there are always ups and downs throughout the journey. I find it helpful to think of it as the inhalation and exhalation of life itself. When you're in a phase of inhalation, you will feel more introspective and maybe even depressed. The point is to not fight this, but go with the flow. If you resist it, you make it harder for yourself.
Artists are people who may feel these mood swings and roller coasters much more poignantly than others. People in creative jobs easily get distressed when they're in a low phase because it feels as if they can't produce anything worthwhile. The feelings of vulnerability easily make them feel victimized and as a consequence, they blame others for a lot of things rather than assuming responsibility in a more "grown up" sort of way. The darker aspects of one's being might come out and one will be a less pleasant person to be around. The way that depth psychologists who specialize in creativity theories explain this is that you are more submerged in your subconscious mind and the reason you cannot produce quite so well is because mental material is in a state of brewing. Don't panic, this phase is necessary. If you look into yourself you will probably find that you're battling with problems and feeling conflicted about many things. There is often one major issue to deal with but it usually connects with other more minor issues. You need to let it all go on for as long as it needs to go on.
Let this be. Don't panic, don't force yourself to be something you're not. At the most, be positive in the sense that you know this will pass, and that consciously dwelling on things is not necessarily of any use. I find talking to Martin useful, as it sometimes speeds things up a bit and makes me feel clearer, as well as helps him understand what's going on and why I'm acting the way I'm acting. But trying not to whhine and winge too much is better for yourself and everyone around you. Keep in mind that clarity will come when the time is right.
Then suddenly, one day, you have reached a decision - maybe even a major one. Time and time again, I find that reaching a decision about what direction I want to take is the turning point. I don't think there are any real short cuts to this. This is usually when you come out of your shell and start acting. You will no doubt be more extroverted than normal, which will enable you to communicate with other people about your ideas and your direction. In fact, just chatting to people about whatever happens in your life can lead to unexpected turns of events. Very often things happen indirectly, in a mysterious way that is not really of your own making. You're just being open and actively putting yourself out there. You feel more in charge of your own life, but don't make the mistake of thinking that you can control it. Control is not the point, and there is a very important distinction between the two. I think one of the keys is that you stop putting your destiny in the wrong hands and decide what kind of people you want to interact with. These people will then be the right ones who facilitate your journey. It's always a two way street so you really must avoid manipulating or forcing other people to make things happen for you. Luckily at this time and age people have woken up to the advantages of networking. I certainly feel that real, profound and honest interaction with others can be quite fruitful. It's about a balance between being self-sufficient and acknowledging the need for other people. The truth and fluidity of being is a paradox somewhere between the two ways of being.
When you overcome your own prejudices and expectations of life, you often end up choosing the path of less resistance. I think it's important to remember that there are often alternatives, and when we cease to stubbornly hold onto a particular path, it turns out there is an easier one which is much better for you. This is my experience, anyway.
It's interesting how inner decisions will lead to greater flow and how things just start to happen. It probably feels great. During this phase, it's useful to be outgoing and generous. I'm not saying it's a ride without any bumps. But if you follow your intuition - and this is of paramount importance - you will probably finally achieve some important goals on your journey. By goal I don't mean an end, but rather a milestone. It won't last, because it's not in the nature of reality to be stable. Embrace the changes that will happen in one way or another, and enjoy the rush while it lasts!
P.S. These are my own thoughts but there are two classic books by Mihalyi Csiksztentmihalyi, "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" and "Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention" that you might like to read if you're interested in the subject matter.