As it seems, people have been disconnecting more and more from their ability to be creative. Researchers came to this conclusion by studying the results of the Torrence test since the ’50s. It showed a decline in the creativity scores starting in the ’90s.
The focus on performance and efficiency has contributed to a misunderstanding of how to best use time. Optimizing agendas is most often understood by filling it adequately, even more so since virtual meetings have gained in popularity. Most often there is hardly any time between two meetings. The invention of audiobooks, podcasts, etc. has also contributed to an over-optimization. They allow filling so-called inactive time, like driving from one place to the other or going for a run.
The less “unoccupied” time, the less people feel bored. It came to the point that, any empty moment is filled with taking up a smartphone.
None of this leaves time for our minds to wander, or to rest.
That’s where passivity, as understood by Transactional Analysis (TA), comes in.
In TA, passivity is described as what is going on inside people as well as what they do unconsciously, allowing them to not reach a target. It is putting things off or not doing them at all. It is putting one’s energy to work at the wrong place, that is in such a way that the obstacle to the goal can’t be dissolved.
TA describes four types of passivity: Incapacitation and Violence, Agitation, Over-Adapting, and Doing Nothing,
Incapacitation and Violence are means to discharge the energy that could be used to solve the situation into harming self or others.
Over-Adaptation starts with the idea that others are incapable and that is one’s duty to handle the situation for them. This is one of the most challenging forms of passivity as it takes the form of pleasing others. A behavior that is socially acceptable if not welcomed. By putting one’s energy into pleasing others, there is little space left to care for oneself.
Agitation becomes visible through repetitive, ineffective, purposeless behavior. It serves the desire to discharge tension but avoids using the energy in problem-solving or ending the situation. It’s for example the tension of being alone for a moment and seeking to feel connected, which is when the smartphone is grabbed for example.
Doing Nothing could seem like an opportunity to be bored. However, what this behavior describes is the rumination or worrying that a person attends to when they are waiting for something to happen. By waiting and becoming anxious, they invest energy in the worry more than into proactively finding an answer to their worry.
What’s interesting about this concept is how people might confuse busyness and activity with self-care on the path to reaching a goal. Self-care is understanding how to invest one’s energy and put it to its best use. Letting the mind wander off into rumination, is the same as keeping the mind busy with more information to take in. Pacing the room up and down is not the same as taking a walk and finding moments of awe watching the beauty of nature.
Being focused and determined to create a solution, may not be as useful as creating the space and time to let the mind settle, process the events, and let new ideas emerge.
Being creative is also about learning to know when what is the right approach.