576. Facing the Self-Created DelusionsOr how everything that I judged, thought and created as an experience towards art came back to haunt me.
I’ve been busy these past weeks/months rekindling my relationship with art. It is a relationship at at the moment because - as I’ve shared before - it became a source of many judgments, opinions, beliefs about who I am in relation to it, which means I ended up creating a bunch of experiences ‘towards it’ and identifying that as my posture within doing art or towards art in general - but interestingly enough, I stopped seeing myself as my art because of how I started imposing my experience towards it – as judgments, beliefs, opinions, emotions – instead of focusing on simply doing it and working with the physical outcome of it.
And this also reminds me that even if I give myself the authority and ‘green light’ to create something, I will invariably also confront all the past baggage and sort it out in the process, can’t have a clean slate by itself, I have to actually do the ‘cleaning’ process which is what I’ll share here.
I consider that making this difference is a primary point here because we tend to create an ‘experience’ towards something or someone and lose that objective view on things and start romanticizing them, just like we do with anything in our minds through energetic experiences that we end up being controlled and driven by in our lives, making decisions based on an experience, rather than objectively and consciously looking at something, assessing and then making a decision.
What I’ve been realizing is that I am facing all of that clutter of experiences, judgments, opinions, comparisons, insecurities and self-doubt that I imprinted onto ‘art creation’ over the last years, which wasn’t necessarily always the case. I started doing art as a response to wanting to express and do something for and by myself that I could solely enjoy for the visual aspect of it. I’ve called myself a ‘reformed visual vicious’ because I did get to a point of turning everything into something I could fixate on and create an experience towards, be it related to beauty or astonishment which is again me creating a relationship, an experience towards things instead of embracing what I would see as myself – take it in and breathe it out so to speak – but instead, I developed a form of romance with art which became eventually a love hate relationship where as some song goes, to ‘hate’ something you first had to ‘love’ it and love in this context wasn’t a living expression of myself towards myself at the time, but glorifying something external to myself through which I could find a sense and meaning to my life, which I now don’t really seek to find one because #IMatter, so I am the meaning of whatever it is that I am living, doing and placing my effort on.
Within seeking to do something ‘meaningful to life’ and others’ lives specifically, I disregarded myself in my own self-creation process – this became obvious in the kind of relationships I created over the years, how I placed myself in at ‘at your service’ type of stance to anything that sounded good to me and in that, well if I would have continued, a strong sense of ‘losing myself’ would have continued emerging from it. I distanced myself from doing that which in fact was challenging myself the most and that is art creation, because I linked it to self-creation and because I linked it to this whole process of transformation of who I am where my points of view have dramatically changed over the years about virtually everything, going into an extremism of sorts where my absolutism led me to the ultimate limitation: “you can’t do anything that is for your own pleasure and visual viciousness, you have to do something meaningful to life.”
But, who told me this? No one else but myself, I created my own standards and limitations, I created my own ideas of what was more ‘noble’ to do in this world according to the idea of getting to create a substantial change in this world, but how could I if the expression underlying that attempt was one of self-limitation, martyrdom, self-sacrifice, denial of what is it that I truly want to be and express? It is the truth of it really, how can I attempt to be an example to the world of what living ‘freedom’ is if all I’m trying to do is impose my principles and views on others while living in a continuous self-limitation within myself?
And that’s what I’ve been facing currently in the practical day to day process of painting. I am the creator, I have the creative ability as anyone else in this world and I set the limits, I set the boundaries, I define the shapes, the forms, the colors, the subject, the meaning, all of it – and that to me has become in my head quite a challenge in fact, which culminated in the past days going through a physical experience of pain and headaches because of all these ideas, beliefs, perceptions, judgments and opinions about what I’m doing in art again and in essence, facing my-self-creation: facing all of these reactions that I imposed into something that is part of our reality as ‘art’ and confronting myself with my self-created limitations and fears while doing it.
Well, this is the real challenge to me, to go beyond the conditionings I’ve imposed to myself in something that used to be ‘so free and careless’ to me as an experience, it was ‘my point of liberation’ yet I turned it into a masochistic experience over the years to the point of not wanting to do anything with it and now having to ‘take the dive again’ into the same pool and face the process of creating or recreating myself as these words that art used to be for myself: enjoyment, liberation, carelessness, a sense of freedom and authority to decide an outcome, a final result of something.
I ended up turning that into an uncomfortable ‘limitless’ set of possibilities. I am being challenged out of my very ‘squared’ way of living actually, where I can be a very efficient and structured oriented person when there’s a beginning and an end to a task and project that can be gauged and ‘mathematically measured’ as finished, as complete… but! I am definitely challenged when it comes to having no limits, no boundaries and having to actually push through my own fears within this notion of reinventing myself in it.
So, this is more of a realization of that ‘crisis’ that comes when we have resisted to do something for so long because of all of the reactions we had imprinted onto it and finally decide to walk through it. I don’t have a problem to get myself to ‘do something,’ but being satisfied with what I do is a whole different thing and that’s what I want to focus on here, because I have the determination, I am creating the discipline to incorporate painting – at the moment – as part of my day to day, except for this week where I’ve been mostly reflecting on all of these points, which has resulted in spending more time in my head than actually doing anything about it. But, I won’t criticize this either, because I’ve been writing and speaking with other people about this creative process which kind of opened up perspectives in me to not judge this ‘stage’ that I’m facing, to understand it as part of the process in itself and also, to practically start redirecting myself in every moment that I see there’s this limitation or ‘idea’ of what I should be doing creeping in and instead test out ways, find my way of expressing myself, without creating ideas, beliefs, perceptions of ‘what it has to be.’
I had postponed the decision to actually get to paint for months to the point where I had these lined up white canvasses in front of me without actually moving myself to make the necessary space in the place that is now my ‘workspace’ for painting and get myself in motion.
So now I’m ‘in motion’ but that was the easy part it seems… To me what has become the most challenging is the ‘who I am’ in it where a lot of doubts, uncertainties, ideas, beliefs come up in me about what looks fine and what doesn’t, what I’d like to express - but at the same time considering the painting as something that someone else will buy according to their taste and hang on their wall as something they will be having around and part of their living pace.
I consider that part of the reasons why I had decided to give up art before is because of the plethora of ‘uncomfortable places’ I found myself in while doing anything related to it, thinking more about how others will see it and then using that as a way to limit myself though projecting ideas, beliefs of how it’s going to look at the eyes of others – potential buyers of it – and if it will be ‘good enough’ for them.
Essentially what has been coming up these past days is a fear of failure, fear that no one will like them and so ending up with a stack of stuff that no one will ever pay something for. And this is then the right place to be at within my process, where there is no finite way to measure what’s ‘good or bad’, where there is only an expression that I can be satisfied with or not and getting to know such ‘zone’ within me which, I understand is existing in me, it is there as a potential but here comes also the second layer of what has been creating a sort of ‘cloud’ over my head.
I stopped doing art for several years. It used to be my ‘daily bread’ for a part of my life and then I started judging it in all possible ways as meaningless, as purposeless, as a waste of time, and in that I justified stopping doing anything related to it for quite some time, even though it always remained there in the back of my head. And this has made me in a way be regretting those decisions. These past days I’ve been in somewhat of a ‘lost zone’ within me because of being thinking too much about all the opportunities I once had in front of me related to art and I denied it all, I said ‘no thank you’ and turned my back to it, completely and in quite a righteous stance I must say. And within that, I became all the thoughts that I created towards art, only to now be in the process of having to forgive myself for all those limitations I created towards it and also letting go of ‘all that could have been’ ideas in relation to it and how I ‘think’ that I could have developed myself if I had not given up on myself in art for some time.
What comes up mostly is the perceived ‘lost time’ and this is the idea that has been running around in my head, which is now creating a sense of having to ‘rush’ to practice, to get things done now in a way trying to ‘make up for’ the past, for the ‘wrong decisions’ I believe I made, not only in relation to arts but other contexts in my life like relationships or mistakes that I’ve made for not having sufficient precaution and consideration, as well as an outflow of procrastination in relation to my professional status which I am now on the way to take responsibility for and close those ‘holes’ that I’ve left behind me.
So, within participating in all of these thoughts - which are also fueled by the lack of money, fear of not making money, fear of not ‘making sufficient money’ - I’ve caused myself quite a strain in my body these days more noticeably so, fueled by also comparing myself to what I am aware my fellow peers in art school are accomplishing in their lives and in a way seeing myself as ‘having lost my track’ or even ‘having lost my mojo’ so to speak when it comes to creativity, and in essence, being a bit too exigent on myself expecting certain outcomes or results ‘already,’ considering that with arts- and with anything really - one has to practice to get to a point of satisfaction and eventual mastery, and it is kind of obvious that if I didn’t practice for such a long time and completely disconnected from it, it’ll take some time for me to ‘get back on track’ and develop myself with it, which means I have to change my current approach stemming from fears, judgments, limitations, regret and in a way yes even if subtle frustration that if I would continue to allow as ‘my experience’ would lead me to ‘give up’ because that’s apparently the easy way out in our minds, which I am aware I won’t do as a conscious decision, but still, I lay out that potential outflow if I don’t actually take a self-responsible action in what I am experiencing.
So this takes me to seeing ‘who am I’ when I am in front of a canvas to paint? All that exists is the idea of having to do something that can be liked by others and this is the challenging spot for me, where I can create a balance between expressing myself, representing myself while also at the same time considering others without going into the point of compromise. And to understand where and how I would compromise myself in something as ‘subjective’ for a lack of a better word as art is not an easy task, but I am willing to find my way in it.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to regret the choices I made in my life before in having created a load of judgments about art in order to justify stopping doing anything related to it instead of seeing that at the time that’s who I was, that’s where I was in my life and that even if I could ‘go back in time,’ I would still be ‘me’ at the time making those decisions that I was quite certain of at the moment. Therefore this is where I have to own my creation, to see nothing and no one as the ‘culprit’ for me desisting on this creative path but myself and so that means I can place myself back on track on it as I can now decide to test out this route and see how I can develop myself on it and so continuing to see what I learn and discover of myself that I had ‘given up’ to before.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to be deciding to create art from a starting point of fearing failing, fear of survival where then all that becomes is me living as ‘fear of survival’ while painting or doing anything related to arts within which I create a pressure in me that eventually takes a toll on my body and gets to the point where it becomes unbearable to do anything, because my head and body physically gets drained every time that I am seeing through the eyes of fear at what I’m about to create or in the process of creating, therefore
I forgive myself that I haven’t accepted and allowed myself to live trust, consideration and patience within the process of creating something new, where I am instead trying to ‘achieve’ something in a short period of time within a starting point of ‘need to produce more and more’ and in that, not seeing that who I am and what my expression itself is existing as is fear of failure, fear of not having these pieces being liked and bought and therefore having other fears in the background having to do with survival and sorting out other consequences that I’ve also created in my life and that I have to attend as well.
I realize that existing in that ‘survival’ mode while creating something won’t lead me anywhere but creating further stress and pressure on my body, which I actually need to be at ease and in an equilibrium in order to create.
I also consider that I have contaminated my expression a lot based on adding this dimension of ‘potentially selling’ something where I haven’t equalized myself to that possibility and outflow of creating art and instead, have turned it into this murky experience that I believe I have to be at all times considering in order to satisfy a potential buyer’s taste.
If I look back at how I started doing art – and the reason why I also decided to go back to it – is because It was one of the points I took on for myself as a decision I made and lived up to the point of choosing it to be my career, which I then regretted, which I now not regret, and this is the kind of ‘change of mind’ that in my mind and system seems unreliable, untrustworthy, believing I ‘cannot change my mind about something like that, I moved on and that means moving on!’ but I have had to also face the absolutist in me and be humble enough to ‘eat my words’ and rather understand them within the timeframe and context I was in.
It is quite interesting though how righteousness veiled my stance towards arts, believing that what I was thinking, judging and creating as opinions within me were ‘right’ and ‘justified’ and it only makes sense that now I am facing my own ‘bullets firing back at me’ so, yep! I did it to myself and it’s a great way for me to realize what owning one’s creation is, it’s nothing glorious but sometimes it will be as uncomfortable as what I am describing here.
So, how I see it is that unless I clear my relationship with art in all the minute reactions that come up as I am doing it, I’ll continue compounding this experience within me, because as with anything: we are the words that we live, we become what we think, act or don’t act on – therefore if I am constantly churning these experiences of feeling inadequate, incompetent, out of practice, having ‘lost my mojo’ then I will only continue tampering the actual practical process it will take to get back on track within it again and see how I can develop myself currently in it.
I also have to make peace with the fact that yes, that time where I didn’t get to do anything related to art is the same as when one used to exercise every day and stops for several years and one suddenly wants to ‘get back at it,’ I cannot expect my body to respond exactly the same as it was when doing it on a constant basis and I’ve proven this to myself also with exercise even with two or three weeks of not getting to it, takes some time to ‘get back on track’ and readjust.
So, I consider that as much as I’ve been trying to get comfortable with starting over, painting over what I consider as ‘not good enough,’ I also have to stop trying to ‘achieve’ something ideal in my mind, because it only creates a pressure that then becomes a compounded reaction that gets to eventually become more of a physical pain to sort out that prevents me from painting or doing anything related to arts.
I also have to stop judging all of these points as petty points as well, considering how for many it would be a luxury to be dedicating myself to what I am now taking on again as a career path – however, can’t compare myself that way, nor try and compare myself with the idea of what I believe ‘I should be doing by now’ and instead be realistic and humble about the fact that as much as I may have had some practice before, at the moment it will require some time to develop the skills again, to rediscover them if anything through practice over time. I am aware I am dedicated, and I can spend time on it without a problem, so working on something is not the problem – this is about my self-expression and breaking through the multiple self-imposed barriers I’ve created in my mind towards or ‘within’ the creative act and finding the equilibrium to create something that I am satisfied with and at the same time becomes a source of income.
I have to also let go of the ideas of comparing my stuff with what I see some of my peers doing because I am quite aware that becomes also a recipe for disaster if I then create an idea of what ‘I should be doing’ instead of working with what’s here, what I can do, express and work on developing and be OK with the process it will take in this case to develop the skills, because that’s an actual practice that takes time and diligence to it.
What can be immediate though is me living words that are supportive like patience to develop a consistent practice yet not expect ‘excellent results’ right away or ‘master pieces’ type of ideas, because that becomes also an underlying pressure that I am trying to achieve which ends up causing more of a wreck within me than being of any support, therefore I have to Let Go of those ideals and even letting go of seeking that ultimate ‘good outcome’ that I believe I should be aspiring to create – because this becomes also something I am ‘thinking’ about in my head, instead of rather focusing directly on what’s in front of me to work with and express myself as, which is what I consider I haven’t fully aligned within me, all related to notions of ‘good enough’/ ‘not good enough’ and the subtle frustration that comes in me when realizing I’m not ‘fully being myself.’
Doing art is quite the perfect challenge for me to focus on, because there’s nothing else that triggers so many points for me to face by myself, alone, with my literal creation than this. I’ve tested various things and I’m usually ‘good’ at getting things done and taking responsibilities, doing tasks from a to b, but anything that exists within an actual ‘open possibility for anything’ it becomes a challenging task for me, as much as there is an enjoyment in it at the same time I end up clouding it with my ideas, expectations, beliefs, judgments that for sure then become ‘what I express’ in a very literal and visible manner.
One thing I’ve been more ok with is making mistakes. Before I would not dare to start over again or paint over something, I have been more accepting of that rather than giving up completely on it and not working on it for years as I’ve done before.
Also the point of ‘I matter’ works quite well for this process as well, where I have to yes, consider others, what the purpose of this creation is for, but at the same time to do it for myself, not ‘for others’ in my mind constantly or the ‘potentials’ for this or that creation – I have to first and foremost find out again what it is to express something that represents me, is me as who I currently am and I consider that with that, the rest becomes by default an easier point to approach, because then I am trusting myself in it/as it, which are cool words and platforms to start from.
The rest is entirely up to me, where I can translate these words in forms, ways, trying out things that I haven’t done before and be ok with taking those risks and experimenting and seeing ‘what comes out of it’ without trying to control such outcome in one way or another. I have to be fully embracing me in this and stop torturing myself with thoughts of ‘I should not have stopped doing this, I should not have left this behind, I should not have made that choice, I should not have listened to this/that commentary’ Because what’s done is done, and can’t turn back time, but can only work with what’s currently here in my reality from now on.
At the same time, I also have to be flexible and see what outcomes I create, where I don’t create an absolutism of ‘this is the only thing I’ll fully dedicate myself to from now on’ and take on the absolutist stance in that and closing any other potential ways, doors that could open up as well. This is in a way also assisting in realizing that my whole life doesn’t ‘only’ depend on this, yet at the same time considering there is a potential to work on and be patient and diligent with it too, so that I can embrace myself, my creations and be more carefree with it as I used to be within it, which was the actual source of enjoying my expression in art, ‘boundless’ in a way and realm of possibilities this implies.
I am glad I am embarking myself on this path again, because as much as I ‘separated’ myself from it with a cloud of judgments, it is something that never ceased to be in the back of my head, I just denied it and judged it and told me ‘don’t go there,’ but why deny it any longer? I see how supportive it is to transcend these judgments and actually get to do what in a way has been a constant in my life, very present at times, some other times in the back of my head as a suppressed potential, and now I placed it back on the board for myself. I definitely have to also let go of the idea that I’ve wasted ‘precious years’ for it, because this is also not about ‘time’ entirely, but about what I decide to live and do in this moment and from now on, as myself, as my expression and not judge or compare myself within it based on ‘what I could have achieved by now’ in a parallel universe of having continued doing it without interruption.
So, that’s what I’ll be focusing on while also not creating an absolutism about it and being ‘only driven by’ certain desires to fulfill with it, but discover what it means to express myself as it/in it completely… and there’s only a way to find out: By actually doing it, not thinking of it.
I suggest checking out these audios on Eqafe.com that are assisting to see how we create this absolutism in our minds and establish ways to investigate where we are being one and so limiting ourselves in our creative authority and capacity:
My Life of Absolutism - Life Review
My Life of Absolutism (Part 2) - Life Review
Hitting a Wall