Don Richmond On How To Change Your Creative Fortunes
John: This week on the Creativity Corner, we welcome Don Richmond with an essay called “Worth, Trying, and Trust”.
Don: Three topics that have come up before in the Creativity Corner are worth, trying, and trust. I want to talk here a little about how these intermingle and affect one another. A sense of self-worth that is independent of outer achievement and the opinion of others. It is so important in taking our creativity and our creations out into the world. This sense of worth is either something we give ourselves or deny ourself. It’s really foundational. So much of our subsequent efforts and our endeavors either rest upon this or suffer because it isn’t there. No one and nothing else can give it to us if we refuse it to ourselves. Our society and upbringing has usually filled us with the opposite message. That worth is something we either earn or buy by looking right, buying the right stuff, or accomplishing the right things, which then gets enough people to tell us we are worthy. But, it’s a funny thing, without that inner sense of worth you can have a hundred people tell you that they think you are wonderful and there will be an inner voice in your mind telling you they’re all idiots for being so foolish and easily duped. If we do not feel this sense of inner worth, we spend a lot of time and valiant effort trying to replace it or acquire it from the outside from accomplishing things and doing things in the world. You might ask, “Well, what’s so bad about that? We all need some motivation, right?” But one thing that music continues to teach me over and over is how poorly trying works. The reason it doesn’t work well is because your little psalm of trying is usually completely drowned out in the much larger, louder, and more deeply rooted assumption that you are not worthy. This could be called your governing assumption and if all your subsequent thought, energy, and efforts are based on this, you are building your house on quicksand, then it doesn’t work very well. One of the things that make playing music endlessly fascinating for me, is the way that it continually gives me a read-out of what’s going on inside me. It’s like being hooked up to an incredibly elegant biofeedback machine and, instead of some dial or squiggly line on the screen, is giving me this multi-dimensional, instantaneous sound and feeling picture of what’s going on inside me. The thing is that all of life does this. If you are paying attention, it is not hard to see that these deep and underlying assumptions are what manifest in our lives, as our lives. And so, you might ask, well, what takes the place of desperately trying to get my stuff out into the world to get some recognition so that I feel good about myself. The answer is playing. Experimentation. Fun. And joy. It’s fun to play in the world. It’s a joyful thing to express your worth out into the world and your creations saying, “Hey, look what I found!”. It’s fascinating to experiment with your activities in the world. Watching what happens when you do this thing, or that thing. You may very well be engaged in the exact same activities you’d be doing when desperately trying. But, in my experience, it has much better results, because you’re not trying to manipulate anyone. You’re not trying to squeeze something out of anyone. You’re not trying to pick their pockets. And one thing that will characterize this kind of activity in the world is trust. The mindset of trust assumes the worth is there. This works because it is true. You are worthy as you are and you don’t need to do anything to prove it. You can choose to take action and express your worth in the world if you want, and you may as well. It’s fun. I think it’s why we’re here. Trust does not confer or guarantee confidence in any particular skill. Like, for instance, writing a song. It does set you free to learn and experiment. Part of this process is learning from your experiments and refining them. This sort of talk of self-worth and self-esteem gets a bad rap from some people, particularly in the realm of childhood education. They say it coddles people and prevents them from learn excellence from difficulty, trial, and error. But I believe this self-worth and self-esteem fully implemented are what allow us to learn from difficult and from what might be termed less-than-desirable outcomes, failure, or mistakes. It is the way 3 year-old’s learn. They explore and experiment in their environment with an attitude of trust. They fall down. They burn themselves. They have loads of fun. They’re incredibly creative. And they learn and grow at an unbelievable rate. The point of all this is: replace with trying with trust and experimentation. Don’t try to do it. Experiment with it. Play with it. Watch what happens. Then experiment and play some more.