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Inhibition is a Four-Letter Word

Jaine Toth | Aug 31, 2015

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Jaine Toth | Aug 31, 2015

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Some of the most common curse words in the English language have four letters. Folks with a sense of delicacy began to avoid using the actual words by referring to them, simply, as “four-letter words.”

“‘Inhibition’ is a four-letter word”—that’s the opening line of my spiel for encouraging active participation in the arts workshop exercises I give. No one ever remarks that there are, in fact, ten letters in the word inhibition; they immediately understand, through connotation, that in many cases the word inhibition means something negative.

This concept describes any word, regardless of length, which indicates something distasteful or offensive. I especially dislike the word can’t. (Yes, I know—it actually does have four letters–and an apostrophe.) Can’t usually reveals unwarranted inhibitions that tend to stifle the creative impulse, whether socially determined or self-imposed. That, to me, is distasteful and offensive.

I first made the statement “Inhibition is a four-letter word” to a group of people spontaneously. It wasn’t some clever remark I’d carefully developed as an attention grabber or to make the group think. But it so effectively served that purpose, I now intentionally use it, and it works well each time.

First they laugh. Then they ponder. Inevitably most, sometimes all, feel less intimidated. The lure works. Rather than merely being observers, they suddenly join in movement, poetry, drama, music and drawing activities.

What a wonderful stimulus to allow the release of creativity. And creativity is in fact a spiritual gift. Mary Daly, quoted in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, tells us: “It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God.”

The Baha’i teachings agree:

This other and inner reality is called the heavenly body, the ethereal form which corresponds to this body. This is the conscious reality which discovers the inner meaning of things, for the outer body of man does not discover anything. The inner ethereal reality grasps the mysteries of existence, discovers scientific truths and indicates their technical application. It discovers electricity, produces the telegraph, the telephone and opens the door to the world of arts. If the outer material body did this, the animal would likewise be able to make scientific and wonderful discoveries, for the animal shares with man all physical powers and limitations. What then is that power which penetrates the realities of existence and which is not to be found in the animal? It is the inner reality which comprehends things, throws light upon the mysteries of life and being, discovers the heavenly Kingdom, unseals the mysteries of God and differentiates man from the brute. Of this there can be no doubt. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 110.

Why then, do we stifle our innate creative impulses? Give in to the temptation—lose your inhibition, and bite into that self-styled forbidden fruit. Don’t let this ten-letter four-letter word stop you from developing your God-given creative talents—instead, let your creative inner child emerge.


by Jaine Toth

in the shadows of my soul—
tucked in—
opposite conscious awareness,

The Creative Self
The Artistic Child
not dead— frozen against reality
not frozen—awaiting birth.

Who am I?
Who should I be?
Who shall I become?

Will waking the sleeping beauty within
bring chaos
to my snug, safe, systematic, orderly existence —
open a Pandora’s Box
stuffed with stinging memories —
inflict an ache
in the atrophied appendages
of my True Self
as I struggle through
therapeutic exercises —
to crawl again
before I can walk,
before I can run,
before I can dance,
before I can sing
and BE —
at last
as I was meant to be
made in His image:

The Creator

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  • Sep 15, 2015
    Hi Jaine, my singing teacher tells us 'let it out! don't worry about getting it right'. And so it is that little by little I and the class 'let it out'. Little by little because it seems even that we don't know what that 'letting it out' is. And then, as we try it, it seems that after a while something new occurs and it gets let a lot more out. Inhibition is a weird term. In the popular sens it means 'held back'. In the scientific sense it means 'turned off'. In electricity this means there is no power. ...However in biology it means that something stops working so that something else can work stronger with less effort. So I am finding that, when there is a 'holidng back', the solution may be in finding another way to maintain the 'holding' so that some new possibilities show up. Or if it is turned off, trying turning something else off, the opposite thing. It is great to play around with these things so that there is nothing that needs to be fixed or forced.
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