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How To Turn Sadness Into Creativity

How To Turn Sadness Into Creativity

Sadness is something we often experience in our lives whether short-term or long-term. Negative emotions can be difficult to deal with especially in a society that has deemed such emotions as something we shouldn’t dwell on. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the negative emotions are just as important as the positive ones.

Negative emotions are crucial for our overall happiness and well-being. They are there to tell us something, help us make sense of life’s ups and downs and evaluate our experiences. When they do come up, they are not to be judged or suppressed but rather should be seen as a tool for getting yourself back onto the right track.

When we encounter negativity, it is important that we focus on how to make use of it rather than try to eliminate it altogether. Having a positive outlook on life is extremely beneficial, but for a lot of us it can be a challenge to reach this state on a regular basis. But did you know that finding ways to channel your negative thoughts and emotions can bring about a great amount of creativity?

What Science Teaches Us About Negativity and Creativity

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    There have been many successful authors and artists that have been famed for having periods of emotional turmoil resulting in the creation of some of the world’s most beautiful artistic works. Is this a cliche or is there a connection between negative emotions and creativity?

    It has been long thought that positive emotions are what fuels our creativity but researchers are finding out that our most complex creative ideas do emerge from dark periods.

    In the paper The Dark Side of Creativity: Biological Vulnerability and Negative Emotions Lead to Greater Artistic Creativity” written by Modupe Akinola, a study was conducted involving positive and negative responses to a group of people asked to talk about their dream jobs. Each person received either positive or negative feedback from the people listening to them. After the experiment, the participants were asked to create a collage. The results showed that the participants who received negative responses created much more intrinsic and creative works of art than those that had experienced positive responses.

    A simple experiment but what it shows us is that emotions of sadness make us more immersed and detail-oriented and that this has something to do with the relationship between emotion and cognition.

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    It seems that somber moods such as anxiety, self-doubt and depressive states can actually stimulate areas of the brain that control attention, analytical thinking and abstract ideas and thoughts. Frustration and anger can fuel creative tendencies and ideas as it’s our brain’s way of dealing with these emotions.

    How To Turn Sadness Into Creativity

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      Negative emotions are common and can be destructive if not dealt with in the right way. The idea is not to eliminate these emotions completely but to minimise the influence they have over us. Rather than forcing ourselves to get rid of them, we should embrace negative emotions and use them as a way to be more productive.

      If you find yourself feeling sad, frustrated or angry, instead of stewing in those emotions and doing something passive such as watching TV or surfing the internet, you are much better off engaging in writing, art or exercise. With this in mind, here are some important elements to consider when channelling your negative emotions in a positive way.

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      1. Identify Your Negative Emotions

      This is the crucial first step – to acknowledge the negative emotions that you are currently feeling and accept them for what they are. If you feel that they linger or show up regularly then this is when channelling these emotions into more creative means could be beneficial. If they stem from a particular problem then try to frame the problem using questioning techniques to get other perspectives. This can help you dig deeper into the problem and find a solution that you would never have uncovered when in a happier state.

      2. Direct Your Negative Emotions At Problems Not People

      It’s important to use the creative process as a way to direct the negative state away from others. Concentrating on creating will not only be therapeutic and allow potential inspiration to flow, but also channel the sadness, frustration, anxiety or depression away from those around you deflecting unnecessary conflicts.

      3. Don’t Judge Yourself

      When you’re in the creative process it’s really important to not be judgemental towards yourself. When you’re experiencing negativity it is easy to fall into this trap. Creativity is an inspired process that works best when you are free of over-analysing and evaluating your ideas.

      Therapeutic Advantages of Creativity

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        Of course, not only does your negative emotions channel your inspired thoughts and ideas, it can enhance your mood making the creative process intrinsically rewarding. Creative therapy whether you are dancing, writing or painting, can be a powerful therapeutic tool.

        People experiencing sadness may be responding to internalised thoughts and images that are overwhelmingly negative. Getting involved in a creative process can help shift these negative thoughts when undergoing an activity that allows you to use the side of the brain that focuses on fulfilment and enjoyment – although not a means to rid yourself of ongoing negative emotions, it can be used to slowly see and feel a different set of emotions altogether. Recent studies have shown that immersing yourself in a creative activity results in raising the levels of dopamine as well as the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.

        Ways You Can Get Creative

        There are so many ways you can channel your anger, sadness, frustration, depression and anxiety into something creative. It’s important to find something that you enjoy doing and not force it – find something that comes naturally to you. Here are a few ways on how to turn sadness into creativity.

        • Writing – Writing can be used in many forms; from putting your negative emotions down onto paper or writing a story. The act of writing can not only clear your head but doing this while you’re experiencing sadness can give you extra inspiration and insight especially when you need to get ideas for a particular project. You could even start a blog or that novel you’ve always wanted to write.
        • Dancing – Expressing yourself through dance is a great way to get creative. Music and moving around will help with your creative mind and release endorphins.
        • Painting and Drawing – Sit down to paint or draw. Use lots of colours and textures and see where it takes you. Remember you’re not there to judge it – just let the creativity flow and see the results.
        • Creating and Building – Designing and building something needs analytical skills and focus – something you have a lot more of when you’re in a state of sadness.
        • Cooking – Cooking can be overlooked as a creative process and creating dishes can help turn sadness into creativity. Why not try making something you’ve never tried before? Design your own recipe and just see what you end up creating or challenge yourself with only a few ingredients. It could just be the best meal you’ve ever made.
        • Playing an Musical Instrument – Creating music to has always been a famed way of focusing negative feelings to create masterpieces. Some of the best songs and lyrics have come out of emotional turmoil – if you have a talent for playing a musical instrument or have always wanted to try then attempting this when in a negative state may produce something amazing.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pixabay.com

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        Jenny Marchal

        A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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        Published on April 7, 2021

        6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

        6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

        Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

        While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

        1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

        Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

        If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

        In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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        2. They Make Everything Transactional

        Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

        For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

        Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

        A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

        Some statements to be wary of include:

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        • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
        • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
        • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
        • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

        3. They Criticize Everything

        One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

        However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

        Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

        • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
        • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
        • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
        • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

        4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

        We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

        For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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        This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

        5. They Socially Isolate You

        Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

        Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

        This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

        In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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        6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

        It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

        Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

        Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

        • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
        • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
        • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
        • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

        Final Thoughts

        It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

        More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

        Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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