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Creativity and flow are priceless to creatives. It is worth any effort you can give to invite those things into your life. There are plenty of things you can do to build your creativity and increase your chances of reaching a flow state (many of which we talk about here on Design.org), but there’s another important principle to remember: creativity and flow increase around people who support you.
The value of creativity and flow
The value of creativity is probably pretty obvious to most creatives. Creativity drives your creative efforts, helping the work come more naturally and easily.
Flow is something a little bit different. When you’re in a state of flow, you’re experiencing a mental state that completely absorbs you in the task at hand. Ideas come easily, the work flows freely, and you probably even lose track of time because you are just so caught up in your work—and you’re enjoying it, too.
Simply put, creativity and flow are magical.
People who support you
I’ve been thinking (and writing) about interdependence a lot lately. It is fascinating to me how much other people can impact your creativity—everything from idea generation to the creative process to the quality of your work.
When I talk about “people who support you,” I mean the people who give you what you need when you need it.
When you are in a creative flow (or trying to get in one), the last thing you need is a naysayer, a critic, or a judge. You need someone who will cheer you on, keep you moving, and help you stay positive.
Why creativity and flow increase around people who support you
So why does this work so well? Considering what we know about creativity, flow, and interdependence, I think it boils down to three things: guidance, safety, and freedom.
People who support you are going to offer you guidance when you need it (and ideally, only when you ask for it. Unsolicited advice can do more harm than good when it comes to creative flow.)
There are two big keys to this helpful guidance:
- It is positive. Helpful guidance from someone who supports you will never feel harsh or judgmental. Rather, it will feel purposeful and positive. Rather than cutting off your flow, it will help either push you forward or help you pivot into a new direction. Either way, it will keep you moving.
- It comes from someone you can trust. Sometimes, guidance can feel critical simply because it’s coming from someone whose intentions you are unsure of. But when you are confident that the person offering advice has your best interest at heart, it is much easier to take in their feedback and guidance.
Getting guidance from someone who fully supports you is just one way that other people can help increase your creativity and flow.
People who truly support you make you feel safe. Around them, you know that there is no danger of being ridiculed, second-guessed, or harshly criticized.
When it comes to creativity and flow, that matters, because when you feel safe, you feel willing to put yourself out there. When you know that there is going to be someone there to catch you, you feel safer taking risks or trying something new.
There is security in connection. The kind of security that makes you feel like no matter what you do, there will always be someone standing by your side. The kind of security that makes it easier to work through your fears, let go of your insecurities, and invite flow into your life.
Similarly, creativity and flow increase around people who support you because those people help you create more freely.
The people that really support you aren’t going to restrict you; they’re going to encourage you. They aren’t going to judge you; they’re going to get curious about your unique ideas. They aren’t going to tell you all the ways something can’t work; they’re going to help you explore the ways that can.
Freedom like this is absolutely essential to building your creativity and increasing your chances of getting into a flow state. When you feel free, you don’t have to worry about time, outside expectations, or other restrictions. Instead, you can let the ideas flow freely, work at your own pace, and move in the direction your creativity guides you—knowing that you are supported and loved for being the creative person you are.
How to surround yourself with people who support you
If it is so important to surround yourself with people who support you, how can you do that?
- Know who your people are. Who is in your inner circle? Who makes you feel good every time you are around them? These are the people who will give you the most support.
- Cut out toxic people. People who bring you down, judge you harshly, or make you feel bad about yourself have no place in your life. Either cut them out of your life entirely, or set boundaries that help preserve the relationship and your creative efforts.
- Be that person for someone else. Relationships are a two-way street. Mutual support and encouragement will be better for everyone involved, and will help you get the type of relationship you need to be your best creative self.
Creativity and flow increase around people who support you, and you can use that knowledge to your advantage. Find the people who really support you, and let them offer you the guidance, safety, and freedom your creativity needs to thrive.
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