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Dealing with creative ‘post partum’ depression 2

March 21, 2012

One of the more helpful sections in Maisel’s book is the one dealing with meaning. Since artists’ depressions are often meaning crises, it is important to understand how this works.

Slightly paraphrased in Maisel’s words,

Making meaning is simply doing good on earth while you can according to your own lights and despite everything. Being proud of your work, and proud of the person you are trying to be.

So even when we are successfully working on realizing our creative goals, how do we maintain intention when meaninglessness threatens? For instance, when the ego gets bruised by rejection, when someone else gets an opportunity we coveted, or we face a string of professional failures?

That’s where a practiced response of self compassion (and not negative self talk) comes in. Maisel calls it ‘breathing through the moment’ and going on anyway.

It is a lot of work, and it works best if one is committed to doing a little bit every day, rather than large heroic gestures.  Then you create the resiliency needed to bounce back.

‘You must restore meaning immediately after each blow to meaning’. I would add here, that the blows are not only external, they can originate internally as the result of the end-of-project blues, or writer’s/painter’s block, or other sudden losing of motivation for a long-term project.

When I am asking ‘Why do this, what it is worth, who cares’?, the above suggestions help me get back on track and realize no one else cares,  that’s not why I do it.  It is my life that I want to create in a meaningful way. And it gets progressively easier to get back to that original commitment and start taking small steps from there.

Maisel puts it this way:

A self friendlier way would look for the opportunity to please yourself, help yourself, live your life plan, act righteously, make meaning and find joy. The beauty resides in you alone.

 I am the beauty in life. You combat belittling, being ignored, being called a failure, feeling
powerless with this sentence, ‘I am the beauty in life.’

continued in next post
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