How Emotional Intelligence Saves Creativity - The IRON Method

(How to Identify, Repair, Open, and Nurture the Creative Connections between your Creative Expressions and your Emotions.)


First, a bit about creative people being more emotional than rest (read, the smart ones.)

I am a creative person.

Let me substantiate my claim. I must do things in a new way – even stuff that doesn’t ask to be done in a new way. Six months ago, I started frying eggs in a new way! But wait, I am creative in other ways too – small and big ways. I’ve written (not published) 5 novels, 2 non-fiction books (one on Creativity and other on Instructional Design,) I paint and draw (professionally, and my first two shows, both solos - are coming up at AIFACS and India Habitat center,) and I’m crazy about Instructional Design, so I design and deliver trainings on subjects that I have some expertise in, ie: ID, training, creativity, and Emotional Intelligence.)

So, you see, I am indeed a creative person.

And so quite like most creative people, I’ve let emotions run my life – or at least a major part of it. This was so until I was hit by an emotional storm and I fell flat on my face.Then I saw my creativity flounder, flail, and disappear. The creatives of the world will tell you that if something scares the creative ones, it’s the impending death of their creativity. The mind starts shutting down, the darkness deepens, the silence deafens – and one wonders if it will all ever be the same again.

Fortunately, I discovered Emotional Intelligence. Not as quick fix for all my emotional worries, but as a process that helps me see and then manage the workings of my mind.

Through EI, I began repairing the connections between my creativity and emotions, and though the process is still on, I think I’ve got enough clarity on it to share it with others who may find themselves similarly stranded.

Here are four steps to re-establishing your Creative Connections with your emotions. It so happened that it turned up an interesting acronym: IRON.

First step folks, is to commit this acronym to memory - so please do so.

  • I - Identify your creative connection
  • R - Repair / Rejuvenate it
  • O - Open up the connection
  • N - Nurture it.

1. Identify the Connection

If you have felt the connection before, you’ll be able to see it again. All you need to do is focus. Here’s a method that helps me.
Think of what drives you to a particular kind of creativity.

For instance, when I am feeling a very strong emotion (anger, sorrow, ambition, pain,) my fingers become restless. I would sketch on anything that I can find. So for me:
Emotional Surges = Painting

When I’m calm but have experienced a crest or a trough in the last few hours, I want to write fiction; so I find my laptop, pick a topic or a character and start weaving stories that would help me describe the emotions I felt a while ago.

When I’m calm and not distracted, but feeling benevolent and want to share (as I am now) I write non-fiction and design trainings. Since this is mostly a cognitive exercise, I want to feel thankful.

Note down your prominent connections and then start observing your own emotions.

2. Repair / Rejuvenate the Connection

These connections, I’ve realized, are like muscles. The more you work them, them stronger they become. But you can’t work them just like that – especially if a tragedy or an emotional upheaval caused them to break. Then you must rejuvenate or repair the connection first.

To do this, keep reminding yourself of your creative connections when you experience an emotion. You may not be expressing yourself yet – that may take time and perhaps your connections aren’t strong enough to carry your creative juices, but reminding yourself of your connections will make them stronger.

3. Open up the Connection

It might happen automatically, or you may have to test it.

Let me explain:
I went for an oral surgery and was given three injections (two with 20ml syringes in the veins of my hands,) and my veins still ache after about two weeks of having the cannulas removed. The doctor explained. The inner diameter of my veins was small and the volumes of the injectable drugs big – but the infection in my tooth had to be killed and the pain had to be subdued – and for that I needed those doses.

Creativity must run through these connections, and if we want our creative expression to be strong, we must open up the connections little by little.

Remember that you had identified and listed your connections and their corresponding emotions? Now when you see any emotion on that list surge up, get yourself to work – even if you aren’t really feeling up to it, even if it causes you discomfort.

4. Nurture the Connection

Finally, the connections must be nurtured through a continuous stream of emotions that ready you up for your kind of creative output.
How would I write stories, if I didn’t feel the entire range of emotions?
How would I paint, if I didn’t feel the crests and the troughs of emotions?
How would I create content and design trainings, if my emotions didn’t settle down to a calmer pace, giving way to rational thoughts?

To nurture the connections, we must keep them in use and check them for any damages. Thus, when emotions arise, we must identify them and channel them toward our creative expressions. Doing this repeatedly will ensure that nothing blocks the connections.

The Amazing Fallout

IRONing has one interesting fallout :)

Human brain is a creature of habit. When we repeatedly feed and nurture the creative connections in our brain, it learns to channel our energy toward creativity and in time forgets to use it for fueling quarrels, fights, depression, stress etc.

So, IRON away the wrinkles of moods and go Creative!




- Author: Shafali R. Anand


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