Do you find creativity is often a dilemma between open-heartedness and privacy?

When we share openly, it’s more likely that others will relate to our experiences and be enriched by hearing they’re not alone. On the other hand, we may hear judgements or criticisms about something that is so tender and vulnerable for us.

How do you nurture the private creativity and inner safety that allows you to access your deepest feelings in the first place? And how do you discern whether to share those experiences, in what way, how much and with who?

What practices help you find a balance between cultivating your own very private self-connection, and choosing what to offer more openly?

Here are three tips I’ve learned over four decades of living so far … I’d love to hear yours.

1) Practice self-compassion

Try to be as clear as you can within yourself about why you are sharing this particular experience. How will sharing this experience enrich and care for you? What response would you really love to hear back, from who? How could that interaction help you as well as them?

I find that the clearer I am about why I’m doing something and what I’m hoping for in return, I’m less likely to feel deeply disappointed. I really love Kristen Neff’s quote on self-worth. It goes something along the lines of … “Self-criticism asks ‘am I good enough. Self compassion asks ‘is this good for me?”.

Here’s a visual meditation on that topic …

Click here for visual meditation on practicing compassionate self-curiousity: Salt, Sand and your senses
Image courtesy National Gallery of Art Washington – ‘Beach Scene at Trouville’, Eugene Boudin.

2) Accept that we learn by doing.

Sometimes we don’t know what we were really wanting … until we’ve expressed ourselves in words or action … and noticed how we felt afterwards. We really can’t control what others feel or say in response to what we share. What we can do is listen compassionately to ourselves if it hurts – and free ourselves to choose whether there’s something we can learn from that interaction.

I’ve found blogging is a great way to do that. You can start by setting your blog to private, so that only you see the posts … or limit it to select people in your close circle. Learn to hear your own feedback. What are you enjoying? What are you learning? What else would you like? Why? If you feel regret, celebrate your courage for taking action and your compassion for listening to your own experience.

This gentle honesty may be hard if you didn’t receive feedback in this way from your own parents or teachers … however, I hope you’ll keep trying to listen kindly to yourself anyway. I’ve found it becomes so much easier with practice and means I feel less and less dependent on the reassurance of others.

Sometimes we don’t know what we were really wanting … until we’ve expressed ourselves and discovered how we felt afterwards.

3) Grow by connecting with your needs.

Learning the self-empathy practices of compassionate communication helped me build my courage to learn from regrets and persist in trying different approaches to see what is nourishing for me as well as others.

After you share a post, keep checking in on your “gut” feeling. Are you experiencing anxiety or unease? Try to identify the specific thing you’re imagining others may or may not be thinking. What needs do those thoughts point you towards?

Maybe you’re wanting to experience more qualities such as: reassurance, contribution to others, acknowledgement of your experience, to be heard, self-expression, creative freedom, shared reality, understanding, consideration of others, emotional safety? How has your blog post helped meet those needs in you? How has it not? What else could you do to meet those needs?

Click here for a visual meditation that has helped me to access my needs by noticing how I respond to imagery and art – my own, or others.

Click here for a visual meditation on learning through creativity – discovering what you do and don’t enjoy
Image courtesy National Gallery of Art Washington – ‘The Artist’s Studio’ by Jean-Baptiste Camille.

This article is a reflection in response to the WordPress daily prompt: privacy.

What has helped you?

I’d love to hear your tips. What have you learned so far about balancing openness and privacy?