Sensitive by Design

Artists are, by nature, sensitive people. If you are an artist, you may have heard the following in your life: “You are so sensitive”.

The artists´ sensitivity is their strength. It is their sensitivity that nets stimuli and experience. The artist then, in turn, shapes and expresses such stimuli outwardly. Thus, art is born.

“Be careful, lest in casting out your demon you exorcise the best thing in you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Our sensitivity is tied to our impulses and we must, as artists, follow our creative impulses. Our impulses, along with our sensitivity and imagination, are some of our greatest attributes. However, for many artists, their sensitivity leads them to “feel too much” and then to self-medicate.

Many artists struggle with releasing the energy and stimuli they have gathered in their process of going about their lives. Rather than channeling such energy in a healthful way, they turn towards unhealthy ways to deal and/or cope. There are tons of great artist figures of past who had similar issues, who drank themselves into early graves, who died of drug overdoses or found a release in any number of addictions—sexual, food-based, drugs, alcohol, nicotine, etc. The list of poisons is vast.

Some artists, in their looking up to great artists, feel that the greatness such individuals possessed is somehow tied to their unhealthy habits—that being a drunk will somehow make them better artists. This is misguided.

Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. This said, I realize not all artists fall into such traps, but there are a very large number who do.

As artists, we need to follow our impulses (that lightning quick voice in our heads that says, “Do this. Do this”). That voice is our whispering muse. However, as each of us is a complex human animal and subject to duality, each of us has a shadow, as well as a light. That shadow has impulses too and those impulses need to be dealt with as well. If we do not face our respective darkness, it gains a foothold of power in our lives. Dark impulses have a way of morphing and manifesting in inappropriate ways—often in the form of emotional explosions.

Each of us, as artists, needs to find healthy creative releases for each of our energies—whether they are dark or light. That is the beauty and power of art. Artists have the ability to use the stimuli they have netted from their sensitivity and express it, bringing what is “inside, out”.

I urge my student artists to find multiple creative releases in their lives—not just their principle medium. This is important. After all, if your principle release is acting in plays, what do you do when you are not in a play? That energy is continuing to build. Many dramatic artists, loving drama, will, at this point, put drama in their lives.

When one has multiple outlets, one can better manage their energy. Creativity can be found in a garden, in how we decorate our homes, how we cook, how we raise our children and in countless other ways. Our creativity is only limited by our imaginations, which, by the way, are as vast as the ocean, when given proper room to expand.

One does not need to self-medicate to achieve their potential. In fact, such practice will, for many, limit their ability to express and will dull the frequency of their sensitivity, which ultimately has potential to silence the voice of our creative impulses, or our respective “muse”.

Finding balance is the key.

Jim Hart is the founder of The Hart Technique and The International Theatre Academy Norway.


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3 thoughts on “Sensitive by Design

  1. This post seems extremely relevant to what I’ve been feeling recently, especially in terms of mental health. I think the stereotype of depressed artist often exists, because people feel like they need to be unhealthy to be creative geniuses. However, I think you’re correct in asserting that the healthier you are, the more creative you will become. Thank you for giving me insight into allowing health to sharpen my “muse.”

  2. Well said, you’re such an inspiration with all the topics you discuss, Jim!

    The sensitive souls are often perceived as weak and fragile. However, being vulnerable and choosing to embrace the sensitivity is, in fact, brave. Cowards succumb to the moral obligation of society to fit the “normal-suit” that builds up the brick wall between you and your true emotions. Indulging in your vices, thinking they will fill the void is easy to do at this point to, which is sad because nothing good ever comes from that. What you said about finding creative releases in all aspects of life is incredibly important to move closer to sanity (to a certain extent) and what will become your happiness (coming from within)!

    Nobody, as long as he moves about among the chaotic currents of life, is without trouble. – Carl Jung

  3. Haha, looked though my journal and saw that I wrote this just two days ago- don’t you just love the concept of synchronicity?

    Damn Heart
    It’s so easy to say that nothing ever goes my way. Thomas Dybdahl utters it in the most divine way one can imagine. He has such a vulnerable, yet masculine voice that is so enticing. I could listen to him sing 24/7 “Damn heart, you’ve done it again, can’t you tell, I know you well?” I can relate to the song when he describes that nothing ever goes his way, and that he can’t keep up. Who can these days? Everything has to go on TGV speed, and even that is too slow. Stress is a mess where communication is found. It is. Humans are vulnerable and sensitive. It seems that these qualities are frowned upon. I will not accept that. My tears are just as valuable as my smile. It is the whole package that we were provided with from the get-go that matters.

    The heart is so fragile
    As are we
    Let your heart breathe,
    Your guard down
    And you’ll be free

    The heart, physically and figuratively, is what matters the most, so the crucial is to find a balance between freeing it and wearing it on your sleeve at the same time as you keep guarding it and following it.

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