Reclaiming Creativity

Humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow asked, “The key question isn’t ‘what fosters creativity?’ but it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost?”

The birthright of the real self is creativity. Yet we are often stymied by our simultaneous quest to actualize ourselves, and the pull towards safety. On a fundamental level, one’s formative experiences influence where we find ourselves on this spectrum of safety and actualization.

We require a foundation of healthy narcissism in order to develop the capacity for valuing one’s unique creative gifts. If one is inadequately cared for, rejected and inconsistently supported, it is likely there are narcissistic wounds that hinder one from fully owning and manifesting aspirations.

Being on the receiving end of rage, physical or sexual abuse, excessive criticism or humiliation teaches children to live in fear of exposing themselves. They shut down. They learn to silence themselves. In order to speak/communicate, one needs to be heard and understood. One needs to know that their inner truth matters. One needs to know that they matter.

Instead, the inner critical voice of shame incessantly reminds one of the oppressive stultifying messages internalized throughout the years. It sends the message that you don’t have the right to be who you are, and accordingly, you don‘t have the right to express yourself creatively and authentically.

Healing Wounds

All wounds require healing. It is painful to acknowledge that those who one was unconditionally dependent on may have been limited in their ability to provide the love and attention required so as to flourish.

Facing that painful truth is a critical step, as the internalized abuse and neglect may have resulted in creative stagnation and repression of the life force. To reverse this pattern, it is essential to shatter the illusions that keep one tied to a self-destructive belief system.

The throat chakra, or Visuddha, is the energy center of personal truth and artistic expression. It is where we align our creative expression with our deepest self. The task of our creative identity is authentic self-expression where we let the Self speak.

Yet often our words are blocked by guilt, lies, and fear. Our voice freezes. Jungian psychoanalyst and poet, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote in “Women Who Run with the Wolves:”

“Freezing up is the worst thing a person can do. Coldness is the kiss of death to creativity, relationship, life itself. It is an act of defensive anger.”

It is the freezing up which inhibits the creative function and blocks creativity.

Client centered psychologist Carl Rogers said we should create two conditions for people so that the creative process in therapy can unfold. Rogers conveyed that psychological safety and psychological freedom make room for acceptance empathy, and the room to think, feel and contribute fully.

When one is free from judgment and criticism, the energy of inspiration and possibility becomes accessible.

Breaking Free

While breaking out of oppression frees up creative energy and allows one to feel deserving of,power, paradoxically one needs conflict to create. Restriction and challenge are necessary sources of tension, which potentially catalyze the release of creative energy.

As one moves through the oppressive messages and shame-based beliefs and fears that stymie creative expression, room is made for the authentic creative parts of the self, seeking release. This inner spaciousness allows for the expansion of the imagination to occur.

It is from this place that sealed off parts of the self can be accessed and the client can attune to a sense of personal power that uplifts and dignifies. Here, creative goals are awakened and ready to be reclaimed.

When we allow ourselves to connect from a place of depth, deep meaning and humility, our sense of intrinsic purpose is felt. Each one of us has an innate drive to transcend our animal instincts, so as to bring into the world our deepest imaginings in a manifest form.

We are meant to inspire. In our courageous efforts to strip away and transform that which blocks our true expression, we discover the source of our creativity.

Soumitra Pendse /

Reclaiming Creativity

Rev Sheri Heller, LCSW

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, is a seasoned NYC psychotherapist with 25+ years experience in the addiction and mental health fields. Sheri is also an interfaith minister and playwright, and the founder of The Sistah Tribe - Phoenix Project, a therapeutic theater event for at-risk women and girls in the public sector of NYC. For more information, visit


APA Reference
Heller, R. (2015). Reclaiming Creativity. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Dec 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Dec 2015
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