A friend of mine works in the treatment of addictive personalities and she asks a question of her patients that absolutely floored me in its brilliance:
“So, now that you aren’t going to do that anymore, what are you going to do instead?”
Whether it is compulsive eating, smoking, or drug addiction, she thinks it is crucial that her clients have a strategy, a conscious choice they can make instead of reverting to their destructive default behavior. Like most ingenious ideas, it is simple, by asking, “What are going to do instead of _____?” the therapist is encouraging her client that he has the power to make a choice, he is not a slave to his destructive impulses.
Of course, this was a fastball down the middle for the Creative Beast, “I know, I know!” I said, while jumping up and down and not controlling my own impulses, “They can be creative!” And off we went, talking about seeing life as an artist, about having an outlet for your dark side, about having something creative upon which you could focus your energy.
The tagline for Middle Aged Crazy is “Because being creative might save your life,” and I think we hit on something!
What can I do instead of eat a sleeve of crackers? Sing!
What can I do instead of buy tequila? Buy paint!
What can I do to ease my pain? Write the great American novel!
Instead of being bored with the world, I could see it as inspiration for my work, instead of hating my day, I could become engaged in life. Finding a hobby, a creative outlet, a marvelous obsession is more than a way to pass time, it’s a healthy, positive life affirming choice.
Now Go make something!