Saturday, 10 December 2011


(This is a cross post from my art blog)
"Emotions 1/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
So here's the scenario: you feel discouraged and disheartened, not knowing what to do next. It seems as if everything is against you and you are losing faith not only in other people but in yourself as well. You feel stuck and uncreative. Personally, I have been in this place many times. It's almost as if each time it gets worse, but this could be evolution in action. Challenges get tougher as you learn from life, but the rewards you reap are probably also greater. Thing is, life is naturally dynamic, and this means there are always ups and downs throughout the journey. I find it helpful to think of it as the inhalation and exhalation of life itself. When you're in a phase of inhalation, you will feel more introspective and maybe even depressed. The point is to not fight this, but go with the flow. If you resist it, you make it harder for yourself. 

"Emotions 2/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003

Artists are people who may feel these mood swings and roller coasters much more poignantly than others. They easily get distressed when they are in a low phase because it feels as if they cannot produce anything worthwhile. You easily feel victimized and blame others for all sorts of things. The darker aspects of your being might come out and you will be a less pleasant person to be around. The way that depth psychologists who specialize in creativity theories explain this is that you are more submerged in your subconscious mind and the reason you cannot produce quite so well is because mental material is in a state of brewing. Don't panic, this phase is necessary. If you look into yourself you will probably find that you're battling with problems and feeling conflicted about many things. There is often one major issue to deal with but it usually connects with other more minor issues. You need to let it all go on for as long as it needs to go on.
"Emotions 3/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
Let this be. Don't panic, don't force yourself to be something you're not. At the most, be positive in the sense that you know this will pass, and that consciously dwelling on things is not necessarily of any use. I find talking to my husband useful, as it sometimes speeds things up a bit and makes me feel clearer, as well as helps him understand what's going on. But trying not to whine and winge too much is better for yourself and everyone around you. Keep in mind that clarity will come when the time is right.

"Emotions 4/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
Then suddenly, one day, you have reached a major decision. I find time and time again that reaching a decision about what direction I want to take is the turning point. I don't think there are any real short cuts to this. This is usually when you come out of your shell and start acting. You will no doubt be more extroverted than normal, which will enable you to communicate with other people about your ideas and your direction. In fact, just chatting to people about whatever happens in your life can lead to unexpected trains of events. Very often things happen indirectly, in a mysterious way that is not really of your own making. You're just being open and actively putting yourself out there. You feel more in charge of your own life, but don't make the mistake of thinking that you can control it. Control is not the point, and there is a very important distinction between the two. I think one of the keys is that you stop putting your destiny in the wrong hands and decide what kind of people you want to interact with. These people will then be the right ones who facilitate your journey. It's always a two way street so you really must avoid manipulating or forcing other people to make things happen for you. Luckily at this time and age people have woken up to the advantages of networking so interaction with others can be quite fruitful. It's about a balance between being self-sufficient and acknowledging the need for other people. The truth and fluidity of being is a paradox somewhere between the two ways of being. 
"Emotions 5/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
In my own life, I was deeply disappointed with people for a while after my relocation to a new country. It was a major issue for me, in fact it involved such deep feelings of despair that it took me over a year to get my act together. Then, after a lot of difficulties and exhaustion and feeling stuck, it was as if the wind changed. I had on the one hand reached a major decision that I wasn't going to put my destiny in the hands of "just anybody" and managed to rid myself of a lot of expectations on other people. On the other hand I also decided to embrace my chronic condition and decide to the represent disability arts. It was a major decision for me, as I had a lot of fear of being judged as wallowing in self-pity or being categorized as a loony. They were prejudices I had to overcome. It then turned out that I was now choosing a way of much less resistance than the alternative. I think it's important to remember that there are often alternatives, and when we cease to stubbornly hold onto a particular path, it turns out there is an easier one which is much better for you. This is my experience, anyway. 

"Emotions 6/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
During the "exhalation" phase you are probably rushed with adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones, and will probably be eager to produce and be generally active. I can't sustain this state of being for very long and so it's very important that I unwind regularly. The other day my pulse was up at a whopping 96 as I was running around renovating the house. I did transformational Qigong for 20 minutes and my pulse went down to 72. A while later I did some deep breathing/meditation for a short while in bed and the pulse went down to 64. I thought this was fascinating evidence of the power of meditation practices. 

It's interesting how inner decisions will lead to greater flow and how things just start to happen. It probably feels great. During this phase, it's useful to be outgoing and generous. I'm not saying it's a ride without any bumps. But if you follow your intuition - and this is of paramount importance - you will probably finally achieve some important goals on your journey. By goal I don't mean an end, but rather a milestone. It won't last, because it's not in the nature of reality to be stable. Embrace the changes that will happen in one way or another, and enjoy the rush while it lasts!