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  • Writer's pictureKralingen

Creative Anxiety - Why Feeling Bad is Good

This burnout thing… why do I feel so bad? That’s the question we all ask ourselves. I can’t answer this for you of course. What I can do however is that your bad feeling really is a paradox. You need to feel bad. It’s crucial for your recovery and growth. Feeling bad is your oxygen, your fuel, your signal, your fire and your primary incentive to change things. Embrace the fact you feel bad or anxious or stuck as the signal that's telling you how to get back out. In other words listen to it, and accept it as a necessary part of you. Especially with regards to the story you tell yourself.

The first and most important principle of storytelling is that you need to embrace friction and conflict. The human brain is literally not capable of recognizing life's lessons from a story if it has no challenges, no trials or tribulations. That's because our entire existence is fraught with hardships. As such, the human mind is constructed for the purpose of recognizing the bad stuff.

This means that feeling bad, such as depressed, love-sick, creatively stuck or otherwise, can be seen as a sign that the brain has picked something up that needs attention. The worst thing you can do is to ignore it, because then it tends to come back at you even harder. As if knocking louder on that door: you need to pay attention, now.

A lot of this is about the story you tell yourself. If you keep saying to yourself that your bad feelings are bad to have, you're steering your behavior into ignoring them. If you turn it around and tell yourself your bad feelings are a pain in the behind, but also at the same time very useful, you open yourself up for the lesson, just as the conflict in a story is meant to teach you a lesson. Both stories and life, however challenging and conflicting, are about the journey, not the goal after all.

I am however, acutely aware of how hard it can be to actually live this type of wisdom. It's easy to logically comprehend, but to feel it and live it is a different ball game. I know this because at the time of writing I'm in a really good place, and creatively at the start of a long new journey toward a lot of success. I am now in flow.

I came however, from rock bottom. And I found out that working on my art, writing and music was one of the crucial keys to getting back up again. But... I had to build that up gradually and in tiny steps, because of the 'bad' I was still processing.

So, I empathize if you just feel shitty. Totally okay with that. Not gonna tell you that you should feel better or that 'everything is gonna be all right'. I wouldn't dare. All I’m saying is that as signals, these negative feelings are very useful. It will take time to decode them properly. As will all feelings really, burnout or writer's block or whatnot. Yet in a normal healthy state we wouldn’t really fret much about having a bad day or a bad feeling about something. In our creatively anxious state, we can make it a bigger deal than other people would. And maybe that’s a good thing. You’ve landed in this situation for a reason. So you might want to try to figure out what it is that makes you feel so bad. Acknowledging and embracing the feeling will lead you to its source, ultimately giving you a chance to correct that thing that is making you feel miserable. Maybe even use it as fuel for your art. In other words, negative feelings are signals. They are normal. They are healthy. They tell the right story to yourself, full of friction. Which is actually kinda the point. And yes, when you listen to them, they are good. Oh no, they are bad. But good. Because they're bad. Good is bad. Get it? Bad is good.

You're catching my drift.

And love, as always.


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