I wrote last week about how putting limitations and constraints in place has the ability to enhance your creativity. But what about if you have limitations and constraints in place naturally? Built into you? Things that make you a little or a lot different from the general population around you? What if you have limitations and constraints that others don’t have. Where others take certain things for granted, you just don’t have those items as part of your natural make up?

For example, 2 or 3 years ago I discovered that I have aphantasia. Wikipedia describes it as:

Aphantasia is the suggested name for a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye and cannot voluntarily visualise imagery. 

It’s the most difficult thing to explain to people who don’t have it, as using your imagination to create images, when your eyes are closed, is so usual and normal for most people. I can’t. When I read a book I don’t have images rushing through my head about what I’m reading. What I’m reading are words, and what I’m processing are concepts, thoughts, descriptions and ideas. I can’t close my eyes and see images of my daughters, or even the person sitting in front of me.

I’ve never enjoyed reading non-fiction, but I love movies. Harry Potter is a tough read for me but a wonderful movie to watch. It’s never been easy being in a room where the teacher / leader starts with an instruction like, “I want you to imagine……”

If you’d like to read more on Aphantasia, then this post by Blake Ross on Facebook, is the best descriptive read from someone with Aphantasia that I’ve ever found.

During the past two years I’ve had to re-work the vast majority of my life and realise that most people around me process the world completely differently to me. My struggles at times haven’t been because I was stupid or insufficient, they were because I looked at the world differently. I didn’t know I was different to most people, and they didn’t know either. I’ve been living in a world assuming everyone sees and processes (in the context of being blind in my mind) the same way I do. And they’ve assumed I processed it like them.

I’ve found liberation in learning and embracing this interesting part of who I am. I’ve come to accept parts of me I previously thought were severely useless, and I’ve started to try and find spaces and places where I have an advantage because of ‘what I am unable to do’.

Phil Hansen has a TedX talk I found useful. His TedX talk, The Power of Constraints, is a personal story of his own constraints and what happened when, instead of trying to fix or work around his constraints, he embraced them. Definitely worth a watch.

“You can become more creative looking for limitations. What if I could only create with a Dollars worth of supplies? We need to first be limited in order to become limitless. Now when I run into a barrier or find myself completely stumped, I certainly still struggle, but I continue to show up for the process, and remind myself of the possibilities. Limitations might be the most unlikely of places to harness creativity, but perhaps, one of the best ways to get ourselves out of ruts.”