“With our sense of self out of the the way we are liberated from doubt and insecurity.”
– Steven Kotler The Rise of Superman
What is it that keeps us from being our best selves?
What interrupts our ability to connect to other people or to fully throw ourselves into a moment and be present with what is happening?
Most often it is the idea of our “self” that short circuits our ability to trust ourselves and “just be” in the moment. It is what interferes with our creativity and our willingness to just go with the flow of the moment.
Some call it the ego and others their “thinking mind,” but whatever you want to call it, the thought that you are in charge in that moment is the very thing that steals your creativity and your flow.
Keith Johnstone has spent his entire career helping actors (and others) break out from the spell of their “self” in order to experience fully the joy of trusting your own creativity and feel the flow of working with others without knowing where the script will take you.
(He can see right through your defenses…)
When I am working on my own creativity or with a client on his or her fear of opening up in front of a group I notice how much of this is about letting go of control and trusting. I don’t believe that we ever truly lose our “self” (I will leave that debate for philosophers and Buddhists), but I do believe that you can “turn off” that part of your brain and give yourself up to the magic of the moment.
Steven Kotler talks about this magic in his book The Rise of Superman (mentioned above) and I have experienced it in small ways during acting improvisation classes. The more skilled the group, the deeper you can let go, and the more magical the feeling. This, of course, requires that we are willing to let go.
Two ways to approach this in your communication and in your own creativity:
1. Timeout for the critic. Notice that you have an inner critic who serves you well when it is time to edit and judge. When you are being creative and stepping into the magic of flow-state, that critic needs to take a break. From a strictly brain functioning point of view, it is almost impossible to be both creative and critical at the same time.
2. Say yes to what is happening around you. You will be surprised how skilled you are at creativity and connecting with others. While it will be awkward at first, and you will make some stumbles in the beginning, the final result will be something both exhilarating for you and powerfully meaningful to others.
Take an improvisation course, try modern dance, practice creative writing and reading it out loud. Do anything that puts you on your comfort fringe and begin to learn to trust yourself and your powers. It will improve your confidence, your creativity and your ability to communicate your ideas in almost any setting.