Many of my clients lament about not being creative. Of course, this is a big topic, and today I want to continue the theme of functions of language, and to focus on what role our language plays in creativity.
A common misconception is that creativity is simply a cognitive activity, a figment of our mind. In fact, with rare exceptions of very few geniuses, for most of us, creativity does not just start and ‘end’ at the cognitive level. It may originate at the cognitive level, but then it has to be externalized at the embodied level, the physical Aspect of Being.
Why is that? Because when we use our body to verbalize and to project an intention, an act of creation comes into being.
This act of creation involves engaging our body. We need our body to represent the idea, and two parts of our body are particularly expressive – our mouth and our hands.
Obviously, artists such as painters, writers, or musicians do use their hands to create. For the rest of us, creation will involve an act of speech.
In the Gospel of John, we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
Also in Genesis, we read that God didn’t just think about his creation. He spoke the world into being. It also says that WE are made in the image of God, which means we have the creative power within us.
I am sure that you have an experience of coming up with an original idea while having a conversation with someone. It wouldn’t have happened without you actually speaking it. Verbalization, or speaking, more than any other movement of our body, is directly associated with breath – the life force energy. Language is articulated breath that invokes creative power.
The problem is, most of us say many things every day, but we don’t really have a relationship to what we say. To access that creative potential, we have to become aware of the power of our words and we need to use our words with more awareness.
It’s only when we speak with a real intention and attention behind our words- then this act of speech becomes a manifestation of something deeper. This is when we employ an Expressive or Emotive Function of Language.
This happens when I truly care about what I say, and when I speak out of this place that is alive in the present moment. This is when I am tapping into that emergent creative flow. I am ONE with my words. And my words carry the real creative power.
Let us place it in a coaching context. As a coach, you inevitably meet many people who are feeling ‘stuck’ in their lives. When someone feels stuck, first you can ask, ‘what is it that you want to accomplish if you were not feeling so stuck?’
Most clients will offer a pretty fuzzy answer to this question. When they start talking about what they want, you can easily sense that they are talking about something quite distant. They are usually utilizing the referential function of language, which is mostly descriptive, and most of the time devoid of any emotions. It’s as if they were describing some objective reality out there.
In other words, they are speaking ABOUT something that they haven’t really embodied yet. So, as a coach, we ask questions to help them bring that future into the present. Ask them to verbalize, give more details, shapes, colors to what it is they want to create, until they can truly speak from that creative flow, and feel the excitement of the creation.
This will help them to awaken the Expressive or Emotive Function of Language.
Of course, this is not a one-off process. Also, for some people, another form of idea embodiment, such as writing it out or doodling, might work better than speaking.
So my invitation to you is, find out ‘what is it that you want to create?’ Observe your relationship with your words. Are you just speaking ABOUT something that feels external, or are you speaking FROM a deeper place where you can evoke the creative power to create something meaningful to you? Do you actually feel something when you pronounce these words?
So Use the blessing of language to express yourself in your unique way. Instead of just sitting there, ruminating and trying to come up with a brilliant idea in your head.