To Listen or Not to Listen: Creativity and the Voices in Your Head

© Duster Amaranth with CCLicense
© Duster Amaranth with CCLicense

Being creative requires listening to our thoughts. How do we find our own voice amongst voices internalized from our surroundings?

Interest in yoga and meditation techniques seems to be increasing day by day. In a world connected by social media and sped up by machines that work and play for us, it can be difficult to find the solitude required to access our thoughts and internal voices. When we do get away from those voices, the sounds and rhythms of our own selves can be foreign to us. How do we choose what to listen to, what to act upon, what to believe?

As creative people we have many voices in our heads– voices that reflect our interpretation of ideas from teachers and colleagues, from society, and from our families. There is also the voice of our own ego, our own mind.

There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it.

― Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul

food-31775_640Imagine for a moment that all of those voices in your head are suggestions, including your own ego. Do this, do that. I want a hamburger. These are the voices of your operating system trying to get you moving. They don’t have a clue what you want to do or what your purpose is. That comes from some place deeper in your being. This is why singers love to sing and painters love to paint and so on; somehow creative activity allows us to get caught up in what we are doing to the point that the inner self takes over. The more complicated and traditional the task the harder it gets to come to that point. You have to be so practiced and comfortable with your technique and medium that you can let go. The alternative is to become subject to those voices so that you wear yourself out trying to appease all of them at once. Finding the balance between these voices and your self allows you to be “authentic” or “in the moment”. This is your true voice, and it shows through in your actions, not your thoughts.

580px-OOPS^_NEGLIGENCE_IS_THE_CAUSE_OF_MOST_ACCIDENTS._BE_THOUGHTFUL._-_NARA_-_515130Thoughts do have value. They are designed to be our friends, to help us organize, explore and act by giving us options so that we can carry out a task to the best of our ability. Often they play a big part in assuring that we aren’t complete jackasses.

The strength of the thought process is being able to choose between options, to find the gradations between good, better and best on hand and fair, poor and unacceptable on the other. Individual thoughts are one-sided points of view; we create harmony by picking and choosing among them. Sometimes we reach a point in our lives when the voices are deafening, arguing and seeking to bully us into their corner. Sometimes we do something that cuts against everything the voices have constructed. Either scenario is an opportunity to discover ourselves.

“Once you know that you have a voice,” Louis said, “it’s no longer the voice that matters, but what is behind the voice.”

―Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

© Kevin N. Murphy with CCLicense
© Kevin N. Murphy with CCLicense

When this conflict happens, Synkroniciti would encourage you to go to what you love, not what you are told to love, not to what you have settled for. It may be that, even if you have achieved your original goal, what you are actually passionate about is a few steps from where you have ended up. You aren’t married to your art or your profession, so it is perfectly okay to adjust! Our society likes to know that you fit in early and remain fixed in your position, no matter how painful it becomes to hold your place. This is a destructive philosophy. Don’t be afraid to change mediums, to alter the course set by internal and external voices. This is your self taking over, a process Carl Jung called individuation, and it is to be welcomed, not feared. The result will build upon what you have already discovered and is frequently more satisfying than what was hoped for in the first place.

Come on in; the water is fine!

1 thought on “To Listen or Not to Listen: Creativity and the Voices in Your Head

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