Shame is like layers of mud covering our essential goodness. Shame and guilt are fear-based emotions that make us shut down rather than open up, and our suffering is compounded. Shame gets in the way and blocks creativity because not speaking up about our authentic feelings inhibits the free expression of emotion required in creativity. But if you can release the shame, you can unleash your creativity.
Creativity is a flow. I like to think, it’s a kind of magic that happens through us from a larger wellspring of divine intelligence. Whether it’s music, writing, painting, dancing, the creative flow of life moves through us all, if we let it.
When I was eight, I saw French and Saunders, a comedy sketch show on TV, and I remember thinking, “going to work with your friends and making each other laugh! I want that job.” I wanted to create humour.
As a teenager, I rejected myself for not being like everyone else and often felt shame and embarrassment. At age nineteen, I experienced a drug-induced psychosis and went mad. This madness was very public; people who cared about me were frightened and didn’t understand. I was ‘crazy’ for a few weeks. It was very dramatic and humiliating.
When I recovered my ‘sanity’, I thought I was broken and faulty. Mental health issues have a stigma attached, which I internalised as self-stigma and shame. Not only had I been unwell, but I was also ashamed on top of that. I became depressed and isolated. Eventually, I put my mask back on, buried my past and went back out into the world.
In my mid-twenties, I tried stand-up comedy, but my creativity was strangled by fear. The comedy scene felt toxic and lonely but more to the point, I sucked! So, I quit. But creativity has a way of erupting inside us like a volcano, and I had no choice but to follow my calling and see where it took me.
I stopped running from myself and started my healing journey. Revisiting my mental illness experience was pivotal, and I found acceptance for the immense juicy fullness of being human. Perhaps, we’re not supposed to be perfect. Maybe life gets messy and dark and awful for everyone, sometimes.
I began to share my experiences with others, vulnerably. It was scary to admit how broken I thought I was. But something unexpected happened. Instead of the rejection and abandonment, I had spent a lifetime running from; I found love and understanding. And it was from this place of connection and acceptance that I was genuinely ready to pan for comedy gold.
Throughout the entire creative process, I had to be with my shame. It was a necessary descent into darkness. I discovered that making friends with my shame dissolved it. Embracing my shame allowed me to reframe and celebrate my experience of ‘madness’ as a valid human experience that has made my life richer.
It is hard getting up and saying to the world, “here I am.” But our stories matter, and we all have people who need to experience our creativity. Sometimes I get turned around, don’t know myself, get worried, overwhelmed, downhearted. Then I remember it’s not about me; it’s about how I can serve others with my creativity.
You have the power!