This episode number 138 is all about tapping into your creative genius, getting into a flow state, the secrets to an unbridled creativity, according to today’s guest, our desire, expectation and imagination, you’re about to learn all about from Barnet Bain. He’s the author of The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love and Work. He’s also an award winning filmmaker whose film credits include Milton’s Secret, he was director and writer based on the novel by Eckhart Tolle, and the Oscar winner What Dreams May Come where he was producer. What a classic movie that was starring Robin Williams. Barnet, it’s great to have you on the show.
What a pleasure. Thank you, Stephan.
Let’s talk about how to spark creativity in your work and in your life. Big question.
That’s a big question, isn’t it? Let’s begin with something specific. The interesting paradox is that the more specific, the more drilled down we can get, the more intimate we can become with what our desires are and what our intentions are around those desires. The more capacity we have, the more opportunity we have, the more able we are to unleash the creative energies around that. The broader it is, those capacities diminish exponentially.
Okay, got it. If we got more specific, let’s focus in, for example, desires and how desire is the engine or the fuel for creativity and for creation. What would be something that would help our listener to increase their desire to be more creative?
You are very cagey. Why don’t we get down and personal? Are you willing to play with me?
Sure. Let’s do it.
First of all, I just want to frame it a little bit. When we talk about creativity, we are often talking about some concept of opening capacities of craft, or the arts, or manifesting. Usually, concepts around these things. I view creativity as all that is. It is both the domain and the playing field of our lives. Every act, every thought, every feeling, every choice, and every decision—whether conscious – aware, or unconscious – unaware—is a creative act; a degree to which we can make ourselves, allow ourselves to expand our awareness so that we become conscious choosers, feelers, desirers, believers. Where we become consciously aware of these acts, we expand our abilities to focus them into specific enterprises. Creativity is not simply the domain of a privileged few who are born with a birthright of special talents and portfolios of abilities—the kinds of folks that we see on the magazine stands and the check-out counter, usually in trouble—but they always seem to have tremendous gifts as painters, actors, musicians, players, and athletes. We hold those as the special gifts and talents. In my view of things, we are all creating always, all the time. Every act is a creative act. The artists that I am most interested in do not have particularly siloed abilities of sculpting, painting, singing, or dunking balls, but they are the artists of life, of living rocks. Their lives are works of art, are works of creativity. Does that makes sense?
Yeah, it makes perfect sense. Somebody that’s a coder, a systems administrator, or an engineer who thinks of himself or herself as very left-brained and not very creative is missing the point because they’re creating every moment there alive, basically.
Correct. When somebody holds that they are not creative, the amount of creative energy that is funneled into generating that psychological and emotional construct is enormous. The effort that is involved to sustain it, and to line up and hold in relationship to each other all of this supporting evidence—this happened and this happened and this happened and this happened—therefore logic and reason would lead me to the conclusion that I am not a ‘fill-in-the-blanks.’ These are highly, highly creative acts. It’s a highly creative act even to do that. When we begin to look at creativity itself as love’s work, as the field of play in which we have the opportunity to discover ourselves, then it begins to change our relationship with how the realities of creativity versus how we are conditioned by society and culture, our education and our religions, our upbringing, how our imaginations become structured into particular limiting concepts around creativity. To take it another step further, there are certain raw materials and tools with which we express creatively. The raw materialour thoughts, our beliefs and assumptions about things, the choices, the decisions, the attitudes, and the feelings. Those are the raw materials. That’s the paint kit or the stone, if you will. The tools by which we sculpt and chisel away, were glued or put together, assemble and reassemble, disassemble and reassemble the raw materials, those tools are desire, expectation, and imagination. Imagination is the big one. Imagination is both the entire field of play and the specific instrument. Imagination is both the entire environment in which we live and express—it’s all imagination, it’s all dream world—and focus down, it is also the specific conjuring. It’s the specific imagining. It’s the specific forecasting. It’s the specific dreaming. How do we put all of these together? We do it automatically. We’re so gifted at it. How we do that is how we express ourselves. When we can become more and more intimate with the raw materials and the tools, and when we can become so intimate that we can see and feel and understand them in action, in real time, we become masterful at the creativity of life, become artists of living life. Your question about how can I up-level my capacity to desire, the answer is much juicier in this context. I would begin by saying, “Well, Stephan, I am sure that there’s a whole range of play in your life. If you pick one of them that you would like to plump up, make juicier, and more creative, whether it is a relationship or a business, whether it is being a spouse or a parent, whether it is a health issue, whether it is an entrepreneurial issue, if there is something that you would like to feed attention to, to feed creativity to and have it blossom into some vision (some imagining) that you have, tell me what that might be. Then we can look to what is involved in specifically amping up the desire of it.”
Okay. Sounds great. Let’s play.
Does that make sense so far?
So far, so good.
One idea that I had—just comes to mind immediately—I’m working on expanding my business, which is an SEO services business, I do consulting. But I also have this area that I want to expand, where I have online courses, a membership site, and that area definitely need more desire because I’ve created the courses, I got six of them there, and they’re just not really going anywhere. They’re great content but nobody knows they exist. I have very small audience, small membership base that are—
They’re languishing and presuming that you’re very successful, and I’m presuming that you have brought to bear on these curricula the same kinds of approaches that you brought to bear on the other areas of your life, those have worked fantastically, and this time things seem not to be as effective.
Would that be fair?
Yes, I guess.
There’s a reason for that.
The reason is that it is in the nature of creativity and understanding creativity that I say creativity more accurately loves work. It is in the nature of love that it is always building and expanding upon itself, that never stands still. Just when we think, when we feel that we have brought together the talents, the gifts, the insights, all other ways of talking about the expressions of creativity, we’ve all brought them to bear and they have yielded, served up fabulous business or fabulous relationship, or whatever. We just feel, “Okay, well I brought these skills together and…” They will only operate, they will only be effective in the way that we hold them for a certain period, but not forever. What happens is the creative forces themselves desire to grow. They have a life, They are conscious. They desire to grow. They can only be implemented so many times before those energies themselves evolve and lift to a point at which they need to be conscious. You with me?
Yeah. I’m coming up with a clarification here that I think might be helpful.
I think, perhaps, that the reason I’m not as excited about the membership site and the online courses as I am in the consulting and coaching that I’m doing is the lack of engagement with the people I’m serving. If I’m on a coaching call, I’m co-creating with that client, we’re brainstorming, we’re coming up with amazing stuff, I’m troubleshooting, that’s really powerful and I’m in my gift that feeds me. If I’m creating a course or marketing that course, there’s nobody that I’m engaging with or speaking to. I’m talking to a microphone, there’s nobody at the other end, and I’m recording the course. Or, I am giving it to my team to set things up in Infusionsoft to make sure that all the email sequences and everything is all setup correctly, but I’m not in for—
You’re not in a relationship.
If you remember at the beginning of our chat, we said the more specific and relational we can become—with either another individual or a thought or an idea or ourselves—the more specific we can become so we can become intimate in relationship to something, the more powerful it becomes. The more creative it becomes. You’re speaking exactly to that point. The more general we are, we just hemorrhage creativity and power exponentially. The more specific we are, we exponentially create power. You are pointing to exactly that. When you are making something that is so general, that you don’t have a relationship with an individual or individuals that you’re serving, you’re not at the top of your game. You are not at the edge of your growth. You’re not at your creative edge. If you’re not at your creative edge, you’re repeating yourself and frankly these energies don’t want to play. There’s nothing there for you. If you take your programs, and you tailor them to a very specific need—pick one of them.
Let’s say authors, speakers, and coaches.
In relationship to an author, speaker, coach, I am all of three, an author, a speaker, and a coach. Would your message apply to me in the same way that it would apply to somebody who is seeking, perhaps, to be a first or second time author, or is a new coach, or is a relatively new speaker. Would it be the same?
Oh it would be different.
It would be different. Then you want to tailor your talk, going in, your delivery—it’s not that I’m saying you need to change the content—but your delivery is less general than how you just outlined it to me. It’s not for all authors, speakers, and coaches. You’re saying it would be different, so who is it for specifically?
It could be equally valuable to both audiences. But I would tailor my delivery, like you say, so that it’s more suited to the person who is just starting out if I create it with that tailored delivery, or to somebody who’s more seasoned and has multiple books out or does a lot of speaking professionally. They would get a different experience if I tailored my delivery to them. Maybe two different versions.
Now, something is beginning to flower. It’s tiny but maybe there are two different versions here. The reason the two different versions, is because creativity is always expressing different relational outcomes. Always. There are no uncreative acts and all acts are relational. The more specific you are about who you are, the more specific you are about who you want to relate to, the more powerful becomes the creativity. Suddenly, you went from one program or one way of selling the program—I’m not even necessarily talking at this point about you changing the delivery. I’m just talking about how you are going to market it—already we have a sense of, “Hmm, maybe if I double-down on a number of different versions of marketing strategies, I may have different outcomes.” If there is a marketing strategy that is designed to meet the needs of newbies, that is not the same outreach as it would be if I am marketing to seasoned authors, speakers, and coaches. Very different.
Yes. I could see different Facebook ads targeting these different groups. I could have different videos, different carousels and everything that would speak to that individual. Say you’re just starting out as a coach, or you’re working on your first book—and that’s very exciting—now you’re going to need to build your platform. Google is an incredible playing field where you can punchbag your way, blah, blah, blah. I’m getting the creative juices flowing. I’m feeling it. I could also teach to a live person and not just to dead air.
That’s exactly right. If you’re teaching to dead air, you’re teaching to the past. What do I mean by that? If you’re teaching to dead air, you are talking to yourself and you’re not even talking to yourself in the present. You’re talking to a version of yourself that you’re conjuring up from the past. That self is not somebody that knows more than you. That’s not even somebody that knows as much as you. You’re talking to a version of yourself that you’re bringing up from the past who knew less than you. You are not allowing your communication to be different that you are and to be more than you are. There are a number of things that I do in the world including I’m a film director. When I’m working with actors who are watching themselves, they’re running the lines, they’re doing the script. I don’t care where they’ll go. I don’t care whether they’re unknown or they’re big, big movie stars. I work with them both. If they are paying attention to themselves, then they’re always talking to versions of who they were. They’re measuring, “Am I doing a good job?” “Is this line being delivered well?” If they’re paying attention to themselves, they’re always measuring, they’re gauging, they’re assessing, and they’re measuring again some past standard. That is the kiss of death for an actor. In my other work, I work with entrepreneurs. I work with various clients. When they are likewise engaging with versions of themselves from the past, they’re watching themselves, they’re assessing how they’re doing against ideas they have from the past, it’s also deathly. Deathly. When you are delivering material and you’re not delivering to somebody real, or you’re not delivering to an imagined version of somebody real who knows as much as you do or more, or who is a newbie who knows less but is not you, you’re in trouble. You’re going to repeat yourself and it’s going to come across stale. You are not going to be calling upon, inviting any of those energies that are unfamiliar to you because you’re going to be repeating yourself. It’s not going to feel creative and frankly it’s not going to be creative because you’re going to keep going over and over old terrain. It’s going to get stale.
This makes a lot of sense to me and when I’m at my best creatively when I feel like I’m just channeling, I’m always engaging with another person in real time. I’m not—
That’s what channeling is. When you’re channeling, you are not dredging up your past and serving it up again. That’s exactly it. I could not have found a better language to communicate what this is really about. You are channeling to muses, you’re channeling the more of who you really are, or you’re channeling something else. But you are not going back looking at yourself, talking to a version of yourself from the past, and then wondering why it’s not surprising and engaging and why it feels stale.
This discussion reminds me of something I learned from Dan Sullivan where if you’re focused on the ideal and you’re thus measuring yourself against that ideal, you’ll always come up short, never come up as being able to achieve that. You’ll be depressed, perhaps even suicidal. It’s just a bad situation. He refers to the ideal like looking at the horizon. Both are mental constructs. There really is no horizon where the sky meets the earth. That just doesn’t happen but mentally we assign that thing we look at as horizon and then we measure ourselves against that. Have we got into the horizon it will mean we’ll never will. If you think about how you’re just in the moment serving others, serving a person in real time and you’re channeling, all these mental constructs—the horizon, the ideal, measuring ourselves—all of that kind of melts away.
It all falls away. What makes an entrepreneur creative is they have to have a certain level of accomplishment, a certain level of capacity. “I know I have the wherewithal to respond to the challenges that come my way. Whatever that is, I have the wherewithal and the competence to respond.” That’s mastery. We’ll thread back and talk about newbies in a minute. But right now I’m not talking about newbies. I’m talking about other people that are in the game, that are accomplished in the game, and are looking for ways to creatively up-level their creativity, up-level their performance, up-level their accomplishments and their achievements, there are all slightly different things there. It begins with embracing your competency and to me that is simply the awareness that whatever comes up I have the ability to meet the challenge, to respond to it. Once we have that in place, certain basic skill set, certain competence, core confidence, only then is it imperative that you put in the clutch, or you pop it into neutral, or whatever metaphor one wants to use to become present. By present, we are not looking into the past and measuring ourselves against horizons and against performance. “Am I doing good?” “Am I doing okay?” “How is this working out?” Or futurizing compulsively. “Is this going to be okay?” “Is this going to go south? “Is this going to be…” When we fall out of the present into the past, or fall out of the present into some concept of the future and it’s always a concept, what’s happening is we are going into battle with what I call the original bullying voice. Long before there were bullies—whether in the playground or in the boardroom—bullies first make their appearance in our heads with bullying thoughts—usually about the self—with comparisons and contrasting thoughts, thoughts that are diminishing as opposed to thoughts that are self-loving. We don’t so often hear ourselves inside our heads say, “I love you.” “You’re special.” “It’s not what you do but who you are that I love.” We don’t hear that a lot. We don’t hear, “You can trust me.” “You can trust you,” in a voice. We don’t hear that. We don’t hear, “I give you permission to fall down; I’ll pick you up because I’m competent.” We don’t hear that. We usually hear all of those voices that we were raised in and that are ubiquitous in the culture, that we take on and pretty soon they’re the voice in your head. “You didn’t do well enough.” “You’re not good enough.” “You’re not smart enough.” “You’re going to fail.” “You could’ve done this better.” “What about tomorrow?” “What about the next quarter?” “What about next year?” All these bullying voices that they have their origin in the other world, and we take them on very, very young. Very young. Then we grow old with them and at the sufferance of them. They are highly creative. They are the modulating lenses, inside of which we get battered around, we love, we live, and we grow. Even in spite of them, entrepreneurs they grow and they create wonderful things. But even in the most wonderful things they’re kind of like a bonsai tree because they have to grow in and around these suffocating, nihilistic, devastating, unkind messages. Bullying messages that have become our internal self-talk and yet they are highly, highly powerful and highly creative. As we can become increasingly in the moment so that we are aware of that self-talk, it just becomes noise-signal ratio, it just becomes background music on the radio or the dial in your car. You don’t have to take it all personally. You just recognize it as, “This is the cultural legacy of my upbringing. I recognize it, I understand it, I have some compassion for it, and I don’t have to be at the effect of it. I will often feel the feelings that comes along with it but they are not personal.” Now you have freedom. So being in the present, and being in the moment does not mean that you’re oblivious to hearing the messages or feeling the feelings. It means that you’re aware of them, you’re not invalid with them, you’re not taking them on, and you’re certainly not listening to them.
You notice it but you don’t—
You notice it. That’s a very different relationship with the past and with the future. Very, very different relationship than where we began, where I have a desire. Now it allows you to have a pure desire: This is what I want to accomplish in life. Up comes the voice: You can’t do this. Here’s the Abbots, here’s the why nots. I understand that those are heritage messages and they are baked into my very being. They’re baked into my neuronal structures. They’re baked into me. And yet I understand that they’re conditioned. Those are conditioned recipes. I hear them. I just let them go through me. Now I have a capacity—possibly for the first time ever—to double down on desire because it’s not being hijacked every third thought by some developmental bullying message. Now we can really have a desire grow, really do light up freakin bonfire of desire. It’s not going to get blown out by the first wind of you’re going to fail. At the same time, being in the present does not mean you don’t have attunement or attention to these messages, feelings, and these thoughts. What comes paradoxically is the awareness that these are old feelings, and not about now. These are old thoughts and not about now. I am not going to abandon myself and my desire when I most need of my own support. Suddenly your creative flicker becomes a bonfire, becomes a raging inferno, which just goes wild with fire. I saw these creative energies are exponential. We want to be aware of how we are looking at ourselves and judging ourselves, and move that judgment from a buy-in to just an awareness. But if you look at business or you look on a stage or I look at actors in movies, I see how people self-abandon their flow when they are in the flow and they are just channeling these energies. How they self-abandon that because they are watching themselves and they are judging themselves. “Am I doing good?” “Am I not doing good?” “Well, good in relationship to what?” As Sullivan says in relationship to the horizon. Well, that horizon is a concept and creativity is not a concept. It’s a relationship with living energies. Does that makes sense?
Makes a lot of sense. Let me just make sure I got all the nuances here. We’re not taking it personally. The critical voice, the bullying voice, we’re just noticing it but not listening to it because we realize that it’s just conditioned responses. When you say, “not taking it personally,” that reminds me of the four agreements, one of them being, not taking anything personally—I love the four agreements. When you’re talking about old thoughts and being in the present moment, I was thinking about the amygdala, the reptilian brain doesn’t understand the difference between past, present, and future. Everything feels like it’s a threat now even though it might have been an event 30 years ago. Kind of being unattached to those old thoughts I think is a very powerful way to look at it. It’s just like, “Okay, I’m noticing. These old thoughts are coming, but—”
I just want to add just a little piece to that. Just a tiny, tiny adjustment. A tweak to it because I’m with you all the way.
Yes, it is true that your reptilian brain, your amygdala, they don’t process data in that way. Your limbic brain, which is the middle brain that is all about connection, community, imagining, feeling, and play—take a look at any golden retriever tied up outside the grocery story waiting for its master, you will see limbic brain in action: loving, connected, and waiting, in the moment waiting, just waiting, just waiting, waiting for love, waiting for love. You have all of these pieces and then we have the prefrontal cortex, the modern brain, the executive brain. That executive brain has concepts of present, past, and future. Slices and dices and chops all of the reality up into little bits and rearranges it. First of all, we want to become hyper-aware that 95 out of 100, that’s probably an understatement. 95% out of 100% of feelings are old and not about now, and likewise thoughts. They’re old and not about now. They are the result of what some psychologists call state-bound experiences. I digress for a moment to talk about state-bound experiences. There is a really wonderful experiment and I don’t remember but I can find out if somebody wants to get in touch with me who carried it out. It went something like this. At some university research center, they pulled in a number of undergrads and they tried to teach them gibberish. After about 20 minutes, the kids could not remember a word of the gibberish. They fed them a few shots of Jägermeister. Everybody got a good buzz on. They tried teaching them the gibberish again, they remember the gibberish, the went away, two weeks later they brought them all back in, nobody could remember the gibberish. They plied them with a few shots of Jägermeister, everybody got the same buzz, and lo and behold, everybody could remember the gibberish. Our memory—which is always sematic; it’s not actually held in the brain but there as it may—it is state-bound and when things happen in our lives that are similar, familiar, or same as, something from the past, even the far, far, far, far distant past, even all the way back to the nursery, it triggers a knowing, it activates neuronal structures, it activates enteric gut structures, it activates something held in the body, and suddenly we go, “Wow, that thought came up. I haven’t had that thought in 5 years, 5 minutes, 10 years, 20 years,” because something similar is activating something from a similar state that is not bound to time. Are you with me?
Here we are out in the world in moment-to-moment experience. The older you get, the more likely that more and more of our experience is going to trigger, is going to be same as, similar to, or familiar to a preceding experience. Especially when it comes around to the bullying sort of internal self-talk. By the time you hit 30s, 40s, you are pretty much in constant communication with bullying self-talk. I don’t care if you’re master of the universe. You’re pretty much in constant communication with an inner voice that is constantly comparing, competing, and contrasting. Moment by moment what triggers that is something happening in real time that is similar to, or same as, or familiar but it’s triggering old feelings and it’s not truly about now. We want to become detached correct but we want to become conscious. Here’s where the big game happens. This is what separates the winners from the [0:39:59]. When you can become conscious that that is what is happening; “Wow, this is an old feeling and not about now. I’m not trying to deny the feeling. I’m not trying to push it down. What a feeling. It sucks. I feel it, I feel it, I feel it.” The only negative feeling is one that is not felt. “I feel it as intensely, allow it as intensely, and then it dissipates all by itself and I let it go.” Denying it is attaching. If I deny that it’s happening, that’s an attachment. I am hanging onto it. When I am aware that that is what is going on, I’m aware it’s an old feeling and not about now. I’m aware that something in the present is triggering an old state-bound experience. “I’m not good enough.” “This is scary.” Whatever it is. Sometimes, more and more in my own life I am becoming aware of the specific. But even if I’m not aware of the specific, it doesn’t matter. I need to be aware that that is the function, that is the operation, that is what is going on, so I don’t have to take it personally. That is both, as you saying, non-attachment but it’s non-attachment plus. It’s non-attachment plus consciousness, plus awareness. Out of that awareness, a new piece is introduced called compassion.The older you get, the more likely that more and more of our experience is going to trigger, is going to be same as, similar to, or familiar to a preceding experience. Click To Tweet
I allow myself to have compassion, to have understanding. It’s okay. It’s okay.
For myself. For myself and then you begin to have it for others too. You can see them going through it, you will see it in real time, you’ll see people having state-bound experiences, 10 a minute. It’s not once or twice a day. If you’re a saint, it’s once or twice a minute. And you begin to have compassion for yourself and for others. Then, freedom happens and creativity pours through like Niagara, otherwise, it’s a drip from the water faucet.
Yeah. You got to feel the feelings, not avoid them. What the Oneness Monks in India taught me is to let the tiger devour you.
Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
Awesome. You’re talking about these different opposing statements or opposite statements you don’t hear from the bullying voice. I just love those. Were those affirmations or could those be affirmations?
They could be affirmations, but again affirmations are helpful and I think they’re also developmental. These messages are automatic. They’re not rituals in that sense. They’re automatic. “Hey, here’s a feeling. Here’s a thought. It’s not about now. It’s an old feeling. It’s an old thought.” You know what? It happened to me even if I don’t know what, when. It happened to me at an earlier time in my life and it injured me. It set me up to be waiting for disaster or waiting for a problem. It set me up in such a way that it hobbles my ability to be present and to be a pipe for ultimate creativity. It hobbled me. I have some tenderness for myself at the time that this whatever happened hobbled me, so much so that I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, anticipating that it’s going to happen again and I don’t want it to happen again. Now that I’m aware of it and I’m an adult, it doesn’t have to happen again. It won’t happen again but I’m still automatically looking for it. What might have been used as affirmations now arises organically out of my growth, out of my maturity as a grown woman or as a grown man. I realize, “Okay, this is an old feeling. That old feeling is haunting me. It’s haunting me because the part of me that got hurt is waiting and is looking for the fear to drop. He or she did the best they could at the time. They did the best they could and they’re not the same as I am now. I give them permission to be less than I am and not lose my love.” These things are insights that are larger than affirmations. To me, the affirmation without the consciousness is not nearly as creative and as powerful as the affirmation used as—I don’t mind that language—as the message used as a personal reminder to my current self as well as to the aspect of me that has been triggered. This is an old feeling and not about now. Some old part of me—wired into my brain—is being triggered and I want to remind myself now it’s an old feeling, and I want to remind that circuitry. “I love you. You’re special. I’ll take care of you. You don’t have to be alone anymore or afraid anymore.” It’s not as powerful—if you know what I mean—when it’s divested or divorced from the inside. Does this make sense?
Yeah it does.
The same way that where mothers and fathers, those of us that have children. I can teach my child affirmations. “My love will make you well. You can trust me. You can trust your inner voice. I’m proud of you. I give you permission to be different than me. You’re beautiful. You’re handsome.” That’s one thing to teach them that. It’s another thing for them to see us every time we go south or we get fragmented or we’re triggered. Just for them to see us riding our own ship with these things, then they understand the mechanics of how it works. Then if I tell my child, “You can trust me,” it’s not just a brittle, feel-good thing off the front of a greeting card.
Yeah. You’re not placating them.
You’re not placating them. If I say to my child, “I’ll take care of you,” and they’ve seen me take care of me? They’ve seen me fragment, make real an old feeling that is not about now, and yet I make it real. I lose myself. I abandon myself. If I am able to remind myself what is true and ride my ship, and if indeed I have children, friends, family, colleagues, coworkers that see that, then when I say, “You matter to me. You’re special to me. You, as my colleague, as my employee, as my boss, you can trust me, you can trust… Sometimes I’ll tell you ‘no’ and it’s because you matter to me.” It’s not BS anymore. It’s not brittle.
You’re congruent. Yeah.
Very powerful. It reminds me of an episode where I interviewed Kristen Ulmer and she spoke about fear on a great book called The Art of Fear. Fear is something to be avoided or despised or conquered. It’s something to be embraced because it’s part of you, it keeps you safe, and it need love just like the parts of you that are so easily to love like the compassionate side of you and the creative side and all of that stuff. That’s a really powerful message.
Yeah. Her message is a wonderful one. Most of what we fear is not current. It’s old feelings and not about now. The thing about fear is that it sets up a Hoover Dam across creative impulse. Nothing is getting through except the creativity of fear, which is creative. Fear is such a powerful insight. Unless you’re standing in the middle of the street, you turn around, a bus is barreling down at you, and you have a fight or flight, unless it’s current, almost all of our fears—with those very few exceptions—almost all of our fears are not about now. They’re old feelings and not about now. The truth about fears are fears set up a Hoover Dam that blocks out all creative potentials, except for the creativity of fear itself. Fear knows how to double-down on fear. Fear knows how to grow itself. Creativity knows how to grow itself. Whatever you focus on creatively, will grow itself. You want to focus on a cluster? You will grow a cluster. The only thing that is going on in life is creativity. There is nothing else going on except creativity. If we can become aligned and understand the mechanics of it, then we flow down the river with it. If we realize that most of the impulses that impede us from having the most intimate possible relationship with flowing creativity—our impulses that have been embedded and implanted in us in the distant past and are not about now—that is an insight that is so radical. It’s so radical and Kristen’s idea of fear is such a radical thing to understand. You understand that fear is almost always about old wounds. In that moment that you get it, creativity comes rushing through like Niagara Falls. Until we get that, it’s amazing how powerful our lives are in spite of that when unburdened, unimpeded creativity is occurring to us like a drip from the kitchen faucet when it could be Niagara.
Yeah. We can focus on what we don’t want and that doesn’t really serve us.
Focusing on what you don’t want is a highly creative act. You’re just ordering the worst possible thing on the menu. That’s not to say it’s not creative. It’s just no fun.
Yeah and it impedes your growth. It impedes your evolution. I love this phrase and I learned it from my wife. I don’t know where she learned it from, but, “Worrying is praying for what you don’t want.”
Yeah. One can’t say, “Don’t worry,” you can say it, but it’s meaningless. It’s just meaningless because we are in a flow of creativity, and the energy of worry itself is a frequency just like do-re-mi-fa-sol is. These are frequencies in an octave that we perceive as musicality. Worry is a frequency of energy. It doesn’t occur as musicality but it occurs as a felt sense experience. We can say don’t worry, but it doesn’t mean anything. It just allows us to add to the worry. Now we have a martini going. I’m going to add to the worry of sense of failure because I can’t turn it off. Now I have worry and I have self-judgment. Now I’ve got a couple of things going and I could in a few more things. It’s not helpful. What is helpful is to understand that worry is seeded in. We’re going along, we’re flowing along, I wake up, I’m going through the day, something happens, I go through the mailbox, I see a letter from the IRS or whatever it is, worry happens. When the letter in the mailbox is same as, similar, or familiar to an older threat that is not about now, the worry comes rushing in, the worry is not about now, and then we make it about now, but it’s not. When we understand that worry is a prayer for negativity, we can also understand that where did I learn to pray so hard? How did I become conditioned to pray this particular prayer? When I understand that as a very young person things came down, things happened that were beyond my ability to express self-care around, I got hurt. Now, I’m constantly scanning for evidence of that threat.
Yeah. For the other shoe to drop.
For the other shoe to drop. When I know that, then I begin to reframe how I hold worry. The moment I start worrying, I realize, “Hey this is not a crisis. I’m not bad, I’m not defective, I never was. This is from sometime in the past. I could not have known or acted differently at the time. I did the best I could. But I can act differently now because this is not a crisis. I can love that earlier part of me and remind myself of those messages we talked about. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. My love will make you well. Whatever it is it’s not what you do but who you are that I love. And I give you permission to be different than me. You don’t know, younger part, as much as I do now. I’ll take care of you. It’s okay. Chill. As frightened as you are, I’m feeling you now. You don’t have to be afraid now. I will handle this. You don’t have to.” Now I’m holding worry in an entirely different context. Now I’m able to—as your wife says—recognize it as a prayer, with a certain kind of doubling down, with a certain kind of focusing of creative energy, and I’m able to recognize that I can redirect how I hold that. I can give it some compassion. I can give it some understanding. Now I know I was hurt, I couldn’t have acted differently at the time, and so the takeaway is that part of me is haunted. When I hear from the haunted part, I recognize it. I don’t have to give it to me the same meaning. I don’t have to worry the same meaning. It doesn’t necessarily mean that something’s going to happen. That’s what it meant once upon a time. Now it means I’m hearing from a haunted part of myself, and I can respond to that part of myself. I can feel the feelings, think the thoughts without climbing on board what it meant at the earlier time in my life. Now I open up the floodgates to all kinds of creativity, to all kinds of desire, to a reimagining of what can be in my future because I have now a different relationship with worry. A reimagining of imagination itself, reimagining of desire, reimagining of expectation. I can now plump up my expectation with the knowledge that if a thought or a feeling comes up, it’s not going to be about now. I can hold where it came from with compassion. I don’t have to be afraid of expectation. I can be aware of what my beliefs are, what my thoughts are, what my choices are, what my decisions are, what my feelings are. Pretty soon, I am a hurricane of creativity. My business is thriving, my relationship is thriving, my health is thriving, and where there are challenges, I can look a little more deeply into the areas of particular challenge with a different attitude.
I can look at the parts of myself that are on autopilot, that are automatic, as you say, with compassion, and notice them and not get drawn into it.
And take them off of autopilot.
Here’s a really powerful distinction that I learned recently. Not just about worry being praying for what you don’t want, but also praying for something other than just your wishes and desires. Instead of praying for oh, I want X amount of money to come in the door or whatever, I start praying for desire and for certainty. If I want to create this membership site and these online courses, do it in a way that is very powerful and serves a lot of people in a very powerful way, I could pray for more desire to do that rather than pray for the outcome.
What you’re doing is much more powerful and here’s why. Any of you listening who has ever built a home or be involved in building a home, you got to deal with the architect. The architect says, “Well, what do you want?” “Well, I have a big family and we love to spend all of our time together around the table in the kitchen. Seems no matter what happens, everybody’s always in the kitchen all the time.” The architect says, “So then you’re not going to need a dining room, big dining room right? Formal dining room?” “No, just make me a really big kitchen with a lot of room in the kitchen. Don’t need a dining room. Never going to use a dining room.” “And how many bedrooms do you want? You want five bedrooms?” “No, it’s only me and my partner. We’re the time of our lives where it’s just the two of us and maybe a guest room.” “Oh, so you only need two bedrooms?” “Yeah, and also I’d like another room I could use as an office.” “So you need two bedrooms or three. One other you can use it as an office.” “That sounds about right.” So the house is built as an expression of what its function will be. When it function here is not to entertain 30-40 people in formal banquets, so the form the house will take is going to conform to what I intend for it. What I imagined and intend for it. So the house becomes an expression of what my needs are. I don’t need a dining room, I need a big kitchen, and I need a bunch of bedrooms. You follow?
The old expression “form follows function.” We know that. We all heard that, right?
When you talk about I’m going to either put my energy behind imagining, desiring, and expecting, a particular outcome—vis-a-vis my business, vis-a-vis my quarter, vis-a-vis my programs—that has a certain amount of effectivity, that’s putting a lot of energy behind a particular form. If I put the same amount of energy behind dreaming, imagining—all of which are euphemisms for prayer, by the way—you want to take the begging out of that, [1:02:13]of our history and relationship with prayer has a lot of immature ideas about begging—
Yes and also just like kind of wishing for the genie of the creator to—
Exactly. You’re not wishing anything when you’re in prayer. Think of it as your radio dial. All of these outcomes are already being broadcasted. We’re just dialing-in the station. It is a lot easier to dial-in a station that is attuned to desire and to fulfillment. To the function, what I want out of it, I want to feel that I matter, connected, that I’m making a difference. I want to feel passionate and juicy about life. I want to feel fulfilled. You put your attention on imagining desire and expecting that. It comes, again, exponentially bigger, deeper, wider, more dimensionally, and quicker because it is a narrower target. It is a more specific target than I want a big business with this kind of growth. If I focus on I want a house, I just want a house, I just want a house, and then I suddenly manifest the house with a formal dining room and 10 bedrooms, a tiny, tiny butler’s kitchen, I’m going to have a house alright but it’s not really what I wanted. What I wanted was a place where I could congregate with my whole family and have an inner sanctum for myself, and and office. That’s really what I wanted. Instead I have this Versailles. You focus on the function. The form is not our business.
You talked about fulfillment as well as desire. Which do you think comes first, the desire or the fulfillment?
That’s a really good question. I’ve never been asked that and I never thought about it. Desire and fulfillment. You know what? I don’t have an answer to that. My intuition about it is that these are not linear and that they are connected the same way that thoughts and feelings are connected. You reminded me. I grew up in the East Coast in Northern Quebec in the snow. When I was little I had mittens. So I wouldn’t lose my mittens, my mom had this big woolen string sewn from my right mitten. The string will go up my sleeve around my neck, down my left sleeve, and attached to my left mitten. I think that thoughts and feelings are attached that way, and I think that desire and fulfillment. You pull on the desire mitten and the fulfillment hand will jerk. You pull on the fulfillment mitten and the desire hand will… I think that they are connected. It’s not which comes first. It’s about what is more effective. What’s more effective. One doesn’t come first. When we understand the mechanics of creativity, it is more efficient to create function and allow the form to come out of that. But it’s no longer linear. It’s not a linear deal. It’s an effective deal. For some people, it may be more effective to put their focus on the fulfillment energies. For some people, it may be more effective to put their focus on the desiring energies. Even as I speak this, as we explore this together, fulfillment is an iteration of desire. If I put my attention on how I want something fulfilled, that is desire in action. That’s desire and it’s moving into the terrain of expectation too.
If you didn’t have the fulfillment in let’s say a past life, or in some sort of universe, you would have no desire for that thing, right?
I tell you about this amazing Indian dessert and do you want it? Probably not, unless you’ve had it before. “Oh my God. That’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait for it.” This is some Kabbalistic teaching that I learned from Kabbalah classes.
I love it. It resonates with such truth for me as you said.
Yeah. Awesome. Well, we should wrap up the interview. I definitely want to send people to your website to take—
Oh yeah, please do. Please send them to my website.
You have this creativity quotient quiz on your site for folks to take. I think this will be really valuable for you, the listener, to take that quiz. It’s at barnetbain.com and lots of other good stuff there.
Lots of stuff, lots of friends who have joined me on podcasts and things that are on the site too. Most of them are going to be familiar to our listeners. Also, I do work usually with one or two openings to work with private clients if they’re not available right away, they become available in a reasonable amount of time, a few weeks time. Anybody wants to do some personal one-on-one work, that’s a possibility. Reach me through my site. Just a lot of good stuff there and fun things to explore. Please be my guest. That’s at www.barnetbain.com.
Wonderful. Thank you so much Barnet, and thank you listeners. Now, I hope you all take some of this and apply it in your life. We have not only the episode audio, show notes, and transcript, but also a checklist on optimizedgeek.com for you to action some of the stuff you’ve learned today. I hope it wasn’t just an educational, informative, and helpful, but actually it’s going to get implemented. With that, we’ll catch you on the next episode of The Optimized Geek. This is your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.
- Barnet Bain
- Barnet Bain on Facebook
- @BarnetBain on Twitter
- The Book of Doing And Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love, and Work
- Milton’s Secret
- What Dreams May Come
- Dan Sullivan
- Kristen Ulmer on the Optimized Geek
- The Art of Fear by Kristen Ulmer
Your Checklist of Actions to Take:
☑ Connect with my intention and desire to fuel my creativity. The more specific I am with what I want, the more driven I will be in life.
☑ Always be creating. Whether it’s a book, a script, sculpture, art or music, produce something that came from my thoughts.
☑ Don’t underestimate the power of imagination. My thoughts are strong enough to become reality.
☑ Build connections through teaching. A creative life involves a strong and trusted community that will support me along the way.
☑ Be conscious of my decisions and aware of my actions in life. This will help me progress and become a better person.
☑ Spice things up in my life to avoid monotony. Change is good and a symbol of growth.
☑ Be in the moment and focus on the present. Appreciate what lies in front of me and use it as an asset on my journey.
☑ Steer clear of bullying thoughts and limiting beliefs. Words of encouragement will motivate me into being creative and resourceful.
☑ Don’t worry about the future. The future will depend on how I make my present day count.
☑ Grab a copy of Barnet Bain’s The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love and Work.
About Barnet Bain
Filmmaker, author, coach Barnet Bain’s select film credits include Milton’s Secret (director, writer) based on the novel by Eckhart Tolle, Oscar-winner What Dreams May Come (producer), Emmy-Award nominee, Outstanding TV Movie, Homeless to Harvard (executive producer), The Celestine Prophecy (writer, producer), and Jesus (aka The Jesus Film) (writer). Barnet is an adjunct professor at Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Teachers College, Columbia University. He is the author of the Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love and Work (Atria, 2015), and The Third Story: Awakening the Love that Transforms (Spin drift, 2013).