For the creative mind, for the intellectual mind, for the mind that thrives on creating and refining any type of content to put out into the world, there is nothing worse than feeling mentally blocked. As a writer, I am familiar with the very real phenomenon known as writer’s block. Everyone experiences it differently; for me, it is very much like the scene in the movie Inside Out, where the lead character’s literal “train” of thought gets derailed. That scene resonated very strongly with me, and the way it reflects in my output is, it becomes impossible for me to string words together to make any sense no matter how hard i try.

In the past few months, I have experienced a very peculiar form of intellectual and creative blockage which through my assessment of self, I realise comes from a place of emotional pain. I recognise that, emotional pain does not necessarily lead to a creative block, in fact, many of my  poems (keep an eye out for my poetry collection) have come from a place of pain and we can all attest to the fact that great artistic ideas are born out of the depths of pain. It really depends on how our mind accepts and channels the pain. What I did not realise is that, the powerful correlation between heart and mind which could catalyse such mental elevation and rapture, on the one hand, could also have horrifyingly crippling effects.

Emotional pain is intangible; this means that its core effects are easily overlooked while we pay attention to the more outward consequences. For instance, around the same time that I realised my newfound inability to put words to paper., I was going through heartbreak *cue the sad music*. In the moment, all I could focus on was that I could not write, and while I knew it had a lot to do with my emotional state, I was not conscious of the heart-to-mind tussle that was ongoing.

Alan Fogel of Psychology Today wrote a post called Emotional and Physical Pain Activate Similar Brain Regions, where he begs the question; Where does emotion hurt in the body? He writes that, when people feel emotional pain, the same areas of the brain get activated as when people feel physical pain: the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. In one study, these regions were activated when people experienced an experimental social rejection from peers. In another more real-life study, the same regions were activated when people who had recently broken up with romantic partners viewed pictures of the former partner.

Now imagine the physical pain of say a headache, or breaking an arm etc. and then try to imagine the folly of forcing any sort of creative or intellectual output through that sort of pain. So why do we overlook emotional pain with such brazen disregard and try to push our minds before we truly heal? I realise that the more I tried to push to get my writing done etc. the more I was feeling depressed because my mind was simply overwhelmed with the pain. How many of us are doing the mental equivalent of walking on a broken leg and cutting into an open wound?

It is so obvious when you think about it, and I believe when we walk in awareness of how our mind functions, we are in better control of its effects on our day to day lives. In the words of Deray Mckesson, let’s get free y’all, do not be afraid to acknowledge your emotional pain and how it affects your mental and creative process, then allow yourself time to heal. As Ezibota focuses on the theme of Success for the quarter, I believe this is a key component to living a powerful and successful life. Get free!

Lambert Akwa

Lambert is a Communications Specialist and writer based in Accra, Ghana. He lived in the United Kingdom for five years studying Journalism and Publishing at Middlesex University.


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