By Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC

As a young child, I was drawn to wanting to solve the problems I saw in the world around me, to alleviate the pain and suffering of others. When I learned about the importance of thinking outside of the box, it felt like something opened up inside of me. I felt permission to visualize what could be if we did things differently.

I can look back and see how thinking outside of the box has served me well over the years. I love how Norman Vincent Peale described its power in an article for the Chicago Tribune

“Stand back and see it for exactly what it is. From a little distance, you can see it a lot more clearly. Try and get a different perspective, a fresh point of view. Step outside the box your problem has created within you and come at it from a different direction. All of a sudden… you’ll see how to handle your problem… you’ll discover the course of action that’s just right…”

What I’ve discovered is that thinking outside of the box is most effective when harnessing the powers of curiosity and creativity. For your most complicated situations and problems, it’s an exercise that needs to be repeated as your awareness shifts and you test out new ways of approaching your challenges.

  1. Curiosity. From my perspective, curiosity is what happens when you invite your analytical mind to coordinate with your body to give you a broader perspective of a situation. This involves being self- compassionate and tuning into the sensations, thoughts, and feelings that surface as you explore the landscape of what you’ve been through. 

Curiosity is a soothing balm that’s a good antidote for your defense mechanisms that may limit your growth and keep you locked inside of the box. To be resilient, you need to practice attending to the present moment and hone the mental flexibility that enables you to pivot when conditions change.

Curiosity is also vital for emotional healing. When you are in pain, it’s common to revert to old ways of thinking and acting. They limit your ability to the change and solutions that bring personal growth. It’s your openness to your thoughts, feelings, and experiences that brings resolution and builds resilience.

But when curiosity is combined with creativity? This is where the magic happens.

  1. Creativity. From my perspective, creativity is something we all have inside. How it manifests for you might look different from others, but the purpose is the same, to create the space you need to thrive. For me, creativity is a celebration of your unique gifts that bring important benefits to yourself and others. Creativity is strongly linked with the hope that gets you through difficult moments in your life. 

Creativity is like a spark that sets your mind, body, and spirit aglow. It’s the energy that breathes fresh air into a situation that has gone stagnant. It’s the permission to step away from the shackles you feel and to find the playfulness that breaks through whatever’s keeping you stuck.

Creativity is also vital for emotional healing. It’s the vehicle that makes it easier to be curious about your pain, so that you walk away with a greater understanding of it. When you use creativity for self-expression, you’re connecting with your subconscious self. This is where you put the parts of yourself and/or your experience that you don’t know what to do with. Working through these parts are important for personal growth.

How to combine curiosity and creativity is at the center of the work I do. It’s an honor to witness when the superpowers of creativity and curiosity come together. The result that my clients experience is a strong foundation for healing, growth, and empowerment.

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