There's a whole lot of talk about how introverts and highly sensitive people need to recover from overstimulation. Yes, we do need to do that sometimes, and it's super important for our well-being to do so. But I feel like there's not enough mention of our awesome strengths.
In today's blog post, I'd like to focus on how to promote our gifts.
Sensitive introverts can be extremely creative beings, specifically because we are so introspective and intuitive. We are able to perceive whole worlds between people, across cultures, and even in the sensations of our bodies. Imagination is something that we have in powerful abundance.
Not only are we naturally artistic and innovative, but engaging in artistic and innovative activities is actually one of the best ways for us to recharge.
I'm sure you've felt this before. Ever felt too tired to talk on the phone with your friend for even 10 minutes, but you're still able to read or write at your desk for two hours straight?
I recall sitting at my desk and working on my research thesis about third wave feminism in college, annotating and researching and coding information from 8 in the morning until 5 in the evening. My extroverted roommate came home after work, astonished that I was in the exact same place that she'd left me in. "I don't know how you do it," she marveled. "You must be exhausted."
Well, on the contrary. I felt great! I was so enthralled with all the ideas I was playing with in my mind, I probably could have gone for a couple more hours if the chair wasn't making my butt fall asleep.
My hypothesis is this: creativity energizes sensitive introverts because we have a heightened ability to appreciate beauty in its many forms, especially when it's complex or untraditional.
All of this is to say that I believe creativity is both a hallmark of and a wellness strategy for healthy introverts. A healthy introvert regularly engages in creative expression, and she also creates in order to reconnect with herself.
Plus, if you're an INFJ like I am, you probably set impossibly high standards for yourself. Creative expression is a vacation from perfectionism; it's a break from taking ourselves so damn seriously. It's unrestrained, messy, and playful: exactly the opposite of how we normally are in the rabbit hole of our own minds, and therefore exactly what we might need the most.
This is why it's so important to build a Creativity Cocoon of your very own.
First, what is a Creativity Cocoon? It's a name that I made up, inspired by something my significant other said to me one Sunday afternoon. He was getting ready to head over to a friend's house and observed me being totally absorbed by something I was doing on my laptop. "Are you coming with me or are you gonna stay in your cocoon a little longer?" he asked.
I happened to stay in my cocoon for a while longer that day. And since then, I've loved how the word "cocoon" so aptly captures the feeling of being wrapped up in my own cozy creative bubble.
A Creativity Cocoon is a physical, protected space where you can retreat to make stuff and daydream in a playful way, without consequences. It's where you can experience flow, losing all track of time and place. It's Neverland for quiet creatives, because that's where the most innovative ideas tend to surface: when you're alone in a quiet-ish place.
You may have already started creating a makeshift Creativity Cocoon in your own home, community, or office on a subconscious level. Trust your instinct; there's a reason you're doing it. It might look like a desk in your bedroom that's layered with notebooks, sketchbooks, and novels. Or maybe it's a specific table at the local cafe where you get brunch with your sister on Sundays and talk about big dreams.
Here are the steps to create one in an intentional way, because your well-being is worth it:
1. Choose a place.
It should be a place that's already somewhat integrated into your normal routine. It should also be where you feel totally safe to be yourself and let all your goofiness and imperfections hang out, because that level of comfort is necessary for creativity to flourish.
Creativity is suppressed in the presence of insecurity, so make sure the place you choose is one that you feel safe and secure in.
2. Set boundaries.
This goes along with Step 1. Boundaries help us feel safe, and therefore give us a base to take risks from.
They also keep the space sacred, meaning we're giving that space the respect it deserves, which in turn means that we're giving ourselves the respect we deserve.
Set physical, mental, and temporal boundaries to control what enters and leaves your Creativity Cocoon. Close the door, put in your ear buds, create before your family (or roommate) comes home or wakes up, and avoid the temptation to "be productive" or "fix problems" while you're creating - unless you genuinely find that fun.
3. Consume other people's creations.
To produce, we must also consume.
Bring things into your Creativity Cocoon that ignite your artistic eye or get your mind buzzing with fun ideas. Books, magazines, posters, artwork on the wall, music, recipes, specific websites that you keep open on your laptop (Pinterest, anyone?), quotes or affirmations, photographs.
In this way, you can still be surrounded by creative energy even on days when you're experiencing a creative block. (Speaking of creative blocks, sign up below to get access to today's freebie: 34 Ways to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!)
4. Make stuff!
Gather whatever tools you need in order to create, create, create!
What you make is up to you. It can be something tangible, like a drawing, poem, webpage, cupcake, or DIY craft. It can also be abstract, like new ideas or new dreams.
Depending on what you make, you might need to gather paper, colored pencils, a like-minded human, plants and flowers, glitter, a recording device, or icing and fondant.
To help you along your creative journey, I’ve created a list of ways to “stir the pot” when you’re experiencing a creative block.
Enter your info below to download “34 ways to get your creative juices flowing” from the Resource Library.
I suggest you print out the list, cut it into strips, and put it in a jar or mug. Keep it in your Creativity Cocoon and pull a strip from this “idea jar” whenever you’re needing some inspiration. This approach forces you to do something physical - even if it's a small gesture - instead of staying in your locked-up head.
And most of all, have fun!
Creating, imagining, and innovating is what you were born to do. It’s what comes natural to you and it’s one of the things that you do best. Let’s nurture it so you can continue offering your kind self and big ideas to the world.