We’ve all seen and heard crazy stories about rock stars that drink, take pills, abuse sex and what not. But we don’t need to go that far to see artists pain. And it certainly doesn’t only relate to rock stars.
Most artists have an inner pain. Some kind of childhood event that caused trauma. Maybe it’s a felling of never truly belonging anywhere… Feeling abandoned or neglected. Maybe facing severe criticism, lost love, feeling unsecure, afraid of people or places. Maybe a deep feeling of losing common ground or the feeling of safety.
I was the first child of two, and so when my brother was born, my entire life was put upside down. Suddenly, it’s like I no longer mattered. I was also beaten at home, and at school. (This was mid 70’s, so it was very strict back then).
Then, during young age, my father was absent for many years and I didn’t have a secure male role model. We then moved to a new country, and the carpet was pulled under my feet yet again. I was bullied at school, I had anger issues and I was fighting other kids.
So, digital art, computers and music became my ESCAPE and best friends.
Later, this translated into lost love and a very long time of severe pill, alcohol and sex abuse, paired with gaming addiction and fear of intimacy. I didn’t trust people… (You know how that translates, don’t you? You have to do all the work yourself, and can’t ask for help… I KNOW!)
I had a hard time coping with emotions… And I had extremely poor impulse control… No, I’m not talking about Star Trek… 😉
Thing is, it doesn’t matter what happened. Some have more tragic experiences that others, but that’s not the real issue here. The issue is that the pain is real.
It doesn’t matter that person A experienced trauma that “appears” to be 10 times bigger then what person B experienced from someone else perspective. What matters it the IMPACT it has on the individual it happened to.
And so this event or in some cases series of events created this URGE to disappear from the real world, mask the pain and enter the limitless wonders of creation. Whether it’s music, dance, writing, painting or digital art. Or in worse cases, alcohol, pills, sex… and shopping!
Some go into gaming, internet abuse or work long hours pretending they’re climbing the corporate ladder, while in reality it’s all an act to get away from the pain and seek validation (experience pleasure).
Some seek constant approval of others via endless posts on social media, images and photos in an desperate attempt of feeling just a little more seen and “loved” in the way they’re used to since they first chose this way of getting attention. Some shop till they drop, so they feel a little more in control. At least until they see the bills…
Are you really an achiever, or are you just trying to mask your pain with another “success” or goal, because that’s when you get positive feedback from strangers and feel “seen”? I know I did that for decades of my life…
Thing is, trauma is something that has happened to most of us in one way or another. It might be a small thing, or it might be something severe. Our minds cannot distinguish the size of the threat when we’re kids. If it feels painful to us, it’s because we interpret it as painful with our understanding, maturity, circumstances and personality at that time.
Now, there’s nothing wrong using recreation or seeking pleasure in healthy doses. The issue starts to surface when it interferes with our lives, threatens to take over, occupies more and more time, maybe costs a lot money that you we don’t have and creates more stress, and an urge to continue to put a lid on the feelings of shame.
Another issue can be that we don’t feel worthy of getting some things that others “have”. Like love, material things or success. And so we start to avoid trying to get those things, because it hurts when we get rejected. The pain here is real, and much more intense than for other people. And so addictions take over, since they provide instant pleasure.
The problem is, that we don’t talk about it, we don’t think about it and we certainly don’t do anything about it in most cases. Because we feel ashamed of being flawed. And those that have tried “normal” psychiatry soon realize it’s all a freaking joke.
It’s doesn’t work most of the time.
And it costs a smaller fortune…
What happens in that we shape behaviors and habits that take away the pain immediately in ways that work for us. Often, we do that as kids or immediately after a traumatic event. Some start drinking, or get angry, smoke cigarettes, get into fights or take pills or whatever “mood alternation strategy” that works.
Some escape into the wonders of creation, gaming or art of some kind. Often, it’s a combination of several things, and in some cases also alternation between various tactics. I mean, when we feel bored of one thing, we wanna go for something novel, right?
Been there tried it all, got the t-shirt. I was heavily addicted to all kinds of substances for a decade of my life. I even wanted to end it all. Twice. So I know how hard it can be.
I know how it feels to feel alone, unwanted, unlovable, ugly, not worthy and I also know how WONDERFUL it feels to escape it all.
Even for just an hour. Or ten…
Now, for the most part, most people are completely unware of this. They can even joke about childhood events and pretend they’re fine. Some say time heals all wounds. No, it doesn’t. Time heals superficial scars, the wounds go on into every single cell of our bodies and alter our perception of the world, and therefore, our behavior. And this won’t heal unless we do something about it.
Sometimes, people are facing subtle issues like procrastination. Well, that’s hidden pain avoidance. Some artists hunt for perfection, which is also a way of escaping and “working”… Which brings us back to the question whether artists are more likely to end up with traumas and in turn addictions.
The answer is YES. Artists minds are hyper-creative, and also very sensitive to all kinds of stimuli. Well, that’s part of why we love art so much, because we see beauty where others don’t. Well, in doing so, we’re also open to see and experience more pain than others. So, are all artists like this? Of course not, some more than others. But it’s not about that. It’s about what kind of damage you’re building for yourself on a daily basis.
The worst part is that these issues cause enormous stress. Mental stress. It’s stressful to hide the pain. It’s also stressful to not live life to the fullest. Or to be someone you’re not.
All this, when unattended to, creates physical stress to the body, since stress releases cortisol and a whole range of other negative effects. Stress is damaging in the long run, it’s also proven to be a very high cause of all kinds of diseases.
So, trauma creates addictions, which is an escape. Which causes stress. Which causes body damage. Which causes disease in the long run.
So, the question is, is it all worth it?
If you look really deep inside, you know it. You know if you have pain that you’re avoiding. And if so, you know it limits your life.
But the pain is too big…
And so the false pleasure of addictions makes a lot of people drag their feet through yet another day… And makes them feel joy and happiness for those short bursts of time… and so they go by life and never question how it truly could be.
Because they’re busy with the next fix. If you think about it, how many times have you done something to “distract” yourself from some kind of emotional turbulence today? How many times have you procrastinated that something you KNOW you have to do, but you’ll do it tomorrow? Our brains are super clever at masking a TON of small “innocent” stuff that quickly adds up. And then the day is over…
Of course, we do this to escape pain. And our brains love speed. So we tend to take immediate short-cuts. But short-cuts aren’t solving the main issue, the trauma, and therefore, they only work short-term, while at the same time creating more and more stress.
But did you know that addictions can shape your personality? Our brains remodel all the time, it’s called neuroplasticity. What we do all the time gets reinforced, more neuro pathways are built to get that part stronger. What we don’t do, fades away.
Overtime, we may get “bored” of normal things, and need constantly some kind of “fix” to just feel ok…
Modern science can how prove that trauma causes changes to cells in our bodies. It’s like every single cell remembers it all. And our bodies want to desperately step away from the pain.
It’s an endless loop of pain avoidance and addictions.
A cycle that never ends.
Most people never question this. They just react to things, like if it was some random life. And they go on for years, decades, even entire lives…
It’s not random.
It’s a cycle.
It’s time you unlock your true potential.
You’re WORTH it!
So, what can you do?
Well, the first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem. If you feel you’re fine, and that you don’t have a problem, then you’re “fine”, right?
And in that case, it would be… end of the line. Some people are so called “non coachable”. They don’t take in new information. They believe they know it all and that they know best.
I know several such people. They have some great traits, but they are non coachable. And yet, I can see their lives are an endless loop of pain and addictions of all kinds. But since you’re reading thus far, it’s probably not you…
The next step is to educate yourself, so that you know what happened, why it happened, and how it truly affects and limits your life and the people around you. Often, you’ll experience multiple AHA moments, and when you really understand the problem, sometimes some of the pain immediately goes away.
Then, when you have more knowledge, you can decide to tackle the real issue, the trauma. Your addictions are just pain avoiding tactics, a learned behavior that doesn’t fix the real problem.
You don’t try to remove the addictions, because that’s just the symptoms of the problem. But when you remove the trauma, the negative effect it has on your body, then addictions will no longer be an issue.
Does all of this sound good?
Then I HIGHLY recommend you sign up for a free upcoming 9-episode of “Trauma”, that is based on 55 experts in the world…
…educate yourself, get those AHA moments, and then take action.
See you there!
I’m proud of you,