In order to prevent highly creative individuals from remaining at risk, specific action is necessary — both from the creative individual (see You’re Not Mad, You’re Creative Part 2 & Part 3), but also from those around them.
In order to be helpful to the highly creative adults and children around you, and to nurture their gifts, advice from Mary Taylor of the Creative Intelligence Centre suggests the following:
- Stop thinking about creativity in terms of particular areas of human endeavour — like art, literature, philosophy or science. General opinion links creativity to artistic activity or occupations, like playing the piano or painting a picture but this stereotype misses the real essence of creativity – which is a way of absorbing and processing information and experience.
- All those who work in mental health, educational and vocational assistance programs should be aware of the link between unidentified creative abilities and the emergence of psychological, vocational, interpersonal and other difficulties.
- Withhold judgment or diagnosis of a particular problem until a thorough evaluation of the person and their environment has been made.
- Maintain awareness that a creative aptitude is often hidden under an easily recognized problem in daily life. Understand that the “problem” may actually be a symptom of something else – a raw ability that exists under the surface (like a pearl in an oyster shell). For instance, sensitivities to bright lights, noises or other people’s moods may indicate the presence of strong perceptual abilities.
- When creative abilities have been identified, determine if they are causing any repercussions in the person’s daily life. For example, having a sense of imagination that few people understand, can lead to feelings of loneliness and an experience of feeling “different” than most people.
- Encourage specific skills that protect creative abilities from the “assaults” of daily life. For example, the use of meditation to counteract the effects of stimulation “overload”.
- Reframe negative labels into accurate descriptions. For example, the label “You’re too sensitive” can become: “You are very skilled at noticing things in my environment – You are a very perceptive person.” “You’re too emotional” can become: “You seem to feel my feelings and those of others very deeply – You are very compassionate.” This process of reframing may lead to the awareness that perceived weaknesses are actually strengths.
- Identify how creative abilities can be used in a way that is helpful and meaningful. For instance, someone with strong perceptual abilities may excel in graphic design, research science or in other occupations that require one to be highly observant.
Contributing to a creative persons’s self-knowledge in this way can be a truly transformational experience for them, (and for you), whereby they are empowered to live more fully and bring all sorts of creations into the world in ways which would not have been possible before.
(A similar, longer article by Mary Taylor can be found in About Town, Winter 2003; thanks once again to Mary for her input into this series. Series now concluded)
NEXT WEEK: Taking The Creative Way
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