All Tied up in Knots


Have you ever found yourself getting really angry at everything and everyone at the drop of a hat?  You bite people’s heads off for no apparent reason and completely overreact to the slightest provocation.  I find this happens to me when I am prevented from doing my creative work, either because there are other things that must be done or someone else is impinging upon my time and space.

Anger is not good for anyone’s wellbeing and can definitely affect you physically.  I get really tight muscles in the shoulders and neck when I’m tense and sitting at the computer for long periods does not help it.  If it gets too painful and I’m all tied up in knots I can’t work at all and painkillers are not something I want to take all the time.   Some people like to punch a bag and scream when they are angry but I find this just revs me up and makes me more agitated.  Trying to relax is more effective.  So is Arnica cream and a hot pack to stop the shoulder tension.

I read in Julia Cameron’s wonderful book The Artist’s Way that creative people who are blocked or prevented from doing what they love become very angry.  I have had periods when I have been unable do any creative work and was unbearable to live with.  I was doing a job to please others and not myself and it was making me miserable.  Luckily I realized that this was not where I wanted to be and did something to correct the situation.  I find that I am happiest when I am drawing or writing or singing and less likely to turn into the viper from hell.  The only downside is that it is harder to make a living in the creative fields, but that is my choice and I’d rather be happy and fulfilled than rich and grumpy.

Daily life can also lead to a lot of unnecessary angst. Some people just don’t get it when you are in your creative zone.  Lately I have been doing a lot of writing and have been working on a fantasy story and a science fiction story.  I find that I go off into another world while I am doing this and any interruptions are very annoying.  When you don’t live alone it can be difficult to get others to respect your space.  Although I have told members of the family that I’m am busy with my writing, they still seem to think because I am on the premises that it is OK to get me to respond to any questions or to interact with them.

I am at my creative peak in the afternoon and early evening and that is often when people want my attention. There is no door on the studio and anyone can yell up the stairs because they know I am there.  It drives me insane and breaks the flow of my writing.  I become extremely grouchy and have to resist the urge to throw something at the source of my irritation.  This is not great for the creative process or household harmony.  I’m afraid I am talking about sibling squabbles that can often become entirely unreasonable on both sides if not dealt with sensibly.

How to resolve this situation?  It is better if you can deal with the problem in a calm manner.  I do try to work when no one is around and then I can give others more time when I have finished my writing for the day.  This can be difficult because when I am are on a roll it is hard to stop.  Sometimes you just have to pace yourself and impose some kind of time restrictions. Stopping before meals is important to prevent family arguments.

It is often the case that the other person becomes angry because they are also feeling creatively frustrated and resentful when you are obviously getting on with your work.  It makes them feel left out as they wish they could be doing something similar themselves.  At these times it is not a good idea to go on about your work or they can be quite dismissive and not receptive to your thoughts.

The old “take some deep breaths and count to three before opening your mouth” is a very wise course of action when things become heated.  Just keeping your mouth shut can also diffuse a lot of explosive situations and walking outside is a good idea.  When I’m fuming I find the most effective method is giving my dog a cuddle because it is impossible to stay angry when you are being licked.

Anger is a destructive force and it does not pay to give it any energy.  It is better to put this energy into your creative pursuits.  Why waste time getting all worked up when you could be enjoying yourself doing what you love.  And remember that other people may also be creatively blocked which causes them to lash out at you when provoked.

It is not easy to stay calm when you are feeling harassed and being hindered from doing what you are passionate about but it is also important to live in harmony with others.  So next time you are about to explode because something or someone drives you crazy consciously stop yourself from going down the anger route.  Life will be so much more pleasant and productive.