Creation and Mental Health

By Kirsten Barraclough

I started to become aware of my own mental health after I graduated from college.  I became paralyzed by my own weaknesses and fears when I realized my career goal wasn’t what I wanted to do after all. Now what? I over-analyzed everything, which resulted in a negative outlook on my life and my future.  My coping mechanism was to hide.  I have experienced physical limitations with cerebral palsy my entire life, but now I added self-imposed emotional limitations.  What I continue to discover daily is that there is no simple, short-term fix for mental and emotional struggles.  The good news, though, is that there are resources to help you with the daily struggle.

Resources can include podcasts.  One podcast that I find especially useful is called “Better Than Happy,” with Master Certified Life Coach Jody Moore.  The episode I am sharing is called “Creation and Consumption.”

We consume many things in our lives, such as the items we shop for and entertainment we enjoy and information we take in, not to mention food and water.  Consumption is necessary, but you might ask yourself on occasion, “Are you consuming more of the world than you are creating in it?”  You might be rolling your eyes or panicking because you don’t think of yourself as creative.  However, Jody Moore defines creation simply as when “you put a part of yourself into something that didn’t exist before.”  You are creating whenever you put yourself out there in the world, so it’s not just being crafty or artistic or athletic.  Whenever you help people, talk to people, or listen to people, you are creating.

Whenever I spend the whole day in consumption mode (watching TV or surfing the internet or reading a fiction book), afterward I feel like I’ve wasted the day.  I know I’ve been hiding.  When I feel like hiding, I should find small ways to create or to move toward creation.

One way I create is by exercising.  I use a wheelchair for overall mobility.  I walk only for exercise, not functionality.  I use a walker with an attendant and can only go short distances.  The act of changing my body position and moving my body as much as I can feels empowering.  I feel a positive difference when I walk every day.

Another way I create is by reaching out to others.  A couple months ago, I started regularly sending people text messages asking how they are doing.  Although  sometimes it’s hard for an introvert like me, I feel good connecting to others.  In creation mode, I am less worried about my problems and less self-absorbed.  By sending text messages, I have connected with others rather than staying isolated.

Jody Moore also teaches that our thoughts create our feelings.  The act of stopping to analyze what I’m currently thinking and then choosing what I want to think is an act of creation.  It takes me out of myself for a brief time.  Practicing self-awareness and making choices is creative.

One of my favorite lines in the episode is, “The road opens up to you when you take steps forward.”  I enjoy seeing other people live their dreams, through the things I consume, but consuming others’ dreams doesn’t bring lasting satisfaction.  In my mental health journey, I’ve discovered that my brain on default wants to consume all the time.  But, when I push myself to create by doing relatively small tasks like noticing what I’m thinking, exercising, or texting someone, I feel happier.  If you create in small ways each day, you may discover how to create in bigger ways along the way.  Writing this blog post has been fabulous for my mental health.

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