Extreme Esteem: Self-esteem does affect creativity

“Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”

– Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter

Some time ago, I conducted a workshop for a group of writers. One of the questions raised was if self-esteem affects creativity. I put the question to the group. One participant responded that when she’s feeling low, motivation is also low. Another said that when she’s feeling great, writer’s block is no longer an issue.

My response? “How you regard yourself affects everything you do.”

When I’m feeling good – physically and emotionally – everything comes easier, especially creative endeavours. As a writer, the words and ideas flow from me and I can hardly get them on paper quickly enough. I’m sure it’s the same with every form of creative undertaking.

When you’re feeling poorly about yourself, everything is more difficult. You may feel there’s no point in even trying – it will just end in failure. Even if you were to produce something spectacular, you’re unlikely to see it as such and may dismiss any praise as unwarranted.

In my experience, having healthy self-esteem allows you to focus more intently and, chances are, you’ll be much less concerned with what others might say or think about your efforts. When your project has been completed successfully, any praise will be well-received, and you’ll see it as a confirmation of your ability to persevere and create something worthwhile.

It’s important to remember that creativity is not limited to artistic endeavours such as writing, painting, acting, dance and such. There’s as much creativity involved in creating a beautiful backyard water garden or making delicious homemade chocolates for family and friends.

Here are three techniques I’ve discovered that have helped my creativity blossom.

Honour your uniqueness. People try so hard to fit into the crowd. There was a time when I did the same. Instead of trying to be like anyone else, celebrate your individuality. In whatever creative effort you undertake, allow your personality and uniqueness to lead the way.

Place your attention upon the creative process rather than the outcome. I once heard an Olympic swimming coach put it this way – focus on the execution, rather than the medals. Permit yourself to become fully and completely engaged in the creative process. Open yourself up and let the ideas flow from you. I find it beneficial to separate the creative and the practical processes as they utilize different aspect of the brain. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and The Vein of Gold, put it this way: “The creative process is one of surrender, not control.”

Most importantly, enjoy the act of creation. How can you fully appreciate the destination if you won’t allow yourself to enjoy the amazing journey that’s taking you there?

Make time to be creative – you deserve it. When my self-esteem is low, the first things I’ll relinquish are the creative undertakings. Don’t let others make you feel guilty for making time for activities you enjoy. It’s not unnecessary, selfish or indulgent. What you create has value. Embracing your creativity is as vital to your well-being as eating, sleeping and exercising.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly,” wrote JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, “you cease forever to be able to do it.” Embrace your creativity in whatever form it takes.

Yes, self-esteem does affect creativity – the two components walk hand-in-hand. Healthy self-esteem can fire your creativity, and creative expression can bolster your self-esteem. Engaging in creative undertakings is a powerful way to connect with your authentic self. Remember, everything you create has a small measure of your true nature woven into it. Make time everyday to do something fun and creative and you’ll notice a tangible boost in your self-esteem.

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