Creative Insights: Karen Wallace

Why do you create for others?

Creative people often have big hearts. They are the first people to offer to decorate for friends, bring the dessert for the party or organize the school art show. The creative busy mind can often see how things can be improved, remade or envisioned differently. So where is the line between being creative and helpful for others and being addicted to helping? Here are seven questions to help shed some light on things.

Answer the questions below with a yes or no.  Try not to hedge.

  1. I almost always listen to others who need emotional support, but I seldom ask anyone to pay attention to my emotional needs.
  2. When someone helps me I usually make sure I do as much or more to help them in return.
  3. When I don’t respond to someone else’s needs, I often feel selfish.
  4. I try hard not to hurt other people’s feelings.
  5. Once I say “yes,” people can count on me to get the job done, even if it costs me personally.
  6. I avoid conflict whenever possible.
  7. I tend to get myself in over my head by saying “yes” too often.

If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, maybe you are helping others for the wrong reasons. Do you sometimes use giving and creating for others as a way to get your needs met? Do you sometimes give because you feel unworthy of getting? When I was in my thirties I threw parties for everyone around me, but I was afraid to have one for myself. I really did not feel that people would want to come. My giving was fueled by my lack of self-confidence and self worth. I was good at creating, making things for others and I hid behind my talents. The problem was I often felt resentful, angry and lonely. When I started to work on the underlying reasons of why I was doing what I was doing, I drew back from my tendency to over-give. I still love making things for others, throwing parties and creating gifts, but now I am honest about why and when I am using my talents for others. If I think there is an alternative motive to my actions, I examine my motives for giving.

Try this art exercise:

Take a moment to get relaxed and comfortable so that you can tune in to your body. Envision the person you are creating a gift for. In your body, notice where you feel a physical or emotional response. Take a moment to ‘be with’ whatever memory, images, words or feelings come. Let your hand record any images and thoughts that may be arising for you now. Stay with the bodily sensation and see if there is anything else that your body has to tell you. When you feel finished, you should have a clearer sense of why you are giving and how it feels for you to do so.

Artfully, Karen

Read Karen’s Contributing Editor Profile here.

Listen to a podcast with Karen and Ricë Freeman-Zachery here.


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2 Responses to Creative Insights: Karen Wallace

  1. thecreativebeast says:

    Thank you for sharing this Karen. I found it interesting that though I answered NO to #3, 4 and 7, I still had over three “yes’s” and I think the answers to #3, 4 & 7 can be an indicator of helping for the wrong reasons…I’ll have to ponder this one!

    I also like the art exercise you’ve given here – I’ll be sure to try that out the next time I think of creating a gift for someone and see if the motives are genuine =-)

  2. kwallace says:

    I am glad that you found the exercise useful. Warmly, Karen