Overthinking and Underbellies
When we are stuck creatively, becoming more depressed, or even already in a burned out state, we tend to overthink. The trick to getting out of this rut, is not to think, but to feel your way out of a negative mindset. Fortunately, there are many techniques than can help spark this, and reconnect you with your emotional world. Including literally feeling into that underbelly. Let's explore!
Overthinking When we are not feeling good, we tend to over analyze all kinds of things. In essence, we try to think our way out of being creatively stuck, feeling depressed about your
creative output or failing to reach your life goals, instead of feeling our way out. But when things go wrong, rationalizing often isn't our best starting point. Why not? Because when we feel down, we think down. Fix the feeling, and you fix the thinking.
When we overthink within an already negative mindset, we often come up with all kinds of scenarios that aren’t rooted in reality. We tend to think that situations are worse than they are objectively. We also attack ourselves, assigning blame and punishment, pushing us even even further into thinking we are a failure. Our mind tries to back this thinking up with 'evidence' of our wrong doing.
Creative minds can create the negative too
This is especially outspoken in highly creative minds. Those minds are good at creating new things, simply because they can make more connections than minds tuned to do other things. There is an obvious downside to this however; creative minds are also very creative in creating negative scenario's in the mind. This is the main reason why artistic people suffer from deep depressions: their creative minds are just as good at creative the negative, as they are at creating the positive.
It's important for a creative mind to be aware of this fact. The solution is again; fix the feeling, and you fix the creative thinking. But how do you do that? The trick is to learn one of the hardest things you'll ever have to learn; to separate between feelings and facts. And than to trust the feeling. Learn it however, and your creative output will skyrocket. To get there, let's look at all of these things from a rational point of view.
First things first: you are not alone. I'm not talking about the feeling of 'feeling lonely', but about the objective fact. You are literally not alone. Depression, anxiety, burnout, post traumatic stress... it's the world's number one 'condition' right now, exceeding even obesity. And artistic minds have been suffering from this from the beginning of time itself. In other words: please don't stress too much about your negative state or mindset. It is an integral part of you creative growth, not separate from it. That too, is objective fact. Learn to cope with and use the negative energy, and you become artistically unstoppable.
Negative emotions have a purpose: they work as signals that push you towards doing things better. What this negative mindset can teach you in this case is to accept facts as they are. And to accepting reality as it truly is. For instance, maybe you are unhappy about your creative output, or not reaching your life or careers goals in some manner. You might want to cry, scream, punch things or crash on the couch because of it. All emotional reactions. But objectively speaking, you cannot change the past, you can only focus on what you can do at this moment. Unless of course, you have a time machine. And yes, that sarcasm was intended.
See what I'm doing here? I'm separating fact from fiction. More specifically, the negative fiction that is present in your mind about yourself. Fortunately, there are plenty of good ways to teach yourself to recognize and separate fact from emotion. Many of the Martial Arts but also Eastern practices such as yoga and meditation - with a special mention to mindfulness training - teach us to embrace, accept and recognize the emotions within us, and let them flow naturally. We let them be in peace essentially, even when they are war-like, without taking action on them.
This opens up the path to understanding why you feel what you feel. And that gives you insight into what - in practice and objectively - you can do to fix it.
But it's not just the East that helps us here. Any practice that gets you 'out of the mind' and 'into the body', including for instance taking a walk, a sauna, dancing or doing sports, connects you to your breathing in your underbelly and your movement in your hips. This part of your body is the most important to understanding your emotions. It's where your feelings live. And I mean this factually.
When you are stressed, you literally breathe higher in your body. Your breath becomes shallow and your body is now focused on getting oxygen to the brain, giving you a chance to 'think' you're way through. This is where the overthinking occurs. To stop that, and not let your emotions push you towards negative thinking, you need to get your energy down. Again, I mean this factually. When you have emotional questions, you can literally place a hand on your belly, breathe towards it and recognize the emotion that is involved with your question.
In other words, the answers to most, if not all your questions are literally in your underbelly. So, when you're stuck, that's the first place to go. And typically, it's also the first place you go when you are in a great, positive place artistically.
Remember that, and you'll fix the thinking. Take it easy. Love.
Rogier van Kralingen