The relationship you have with yourself can directly affect your creativity. When faced wit..." /> The relationship you have with yourself can directly affect your creativity. When faced wit..." />

Creativity and the Relationship with Yourself

Painter's paletteThe relationship you have with yourself can directly affect your creativity. When faced with the blank canvas or computer screen, you must also face your internal process. How you relate to yourself can influence the degree of creativity. Since creating is often done in isolation, it is how you cope with bouts of self-doubt, anxiety and self-criticism that can make a difference. Do you believe in your ability and talent to succeed? Are you able to connect to your art and make meaning of it? How you deal with these issues can either enhance the flow of creativity or end up in Creative Block.

We all have an inner voice, whether it derives from our parents, teachers or ourselves, it serves as a constant stream of feedback. If this feedback resembles that of a critical and judgmental voice this can block the creative process. It is important not only to recognize the irrational quality of self-defeating thoughts, but also question the validity of them. How you respond to this internal dialogue can shape your productivity. In order to sustain motivation and inspiration it’s essential to develop a nurturing, kind and supportive voice. Part of developing this internal support is allowing yourself to make mistakes or fail. This is a natural part of any creative process.

It takes courage to commit yourself to a creative profession and pursue your artistic passion. Having to face repeated rejection and disappointments can lead to questioning the level of your talent and creativity. It’s common for creative individuals to view their abilities as lacking. They discount their work by attributing it to luck or accident, eventually believing their work has no value. You don’t have to believe entirely in your own talent to succeed, but you must at least have the drive to develop it. Part of sustaining faith in yourself, as an artist, is remembering past accomplishments. It’s also important to frequently revisit the reasons you chose to do this work.

Creative individuals often have their work minimized by friends and family. Instead of receiving support, they endure being repeatedly told to get a real job. It’s no wonder over time many creative individuals lose a sense of self-worth, eventually believing they are undeserving of success. Our society continues to reinforce the idea that self-worth is measured by one’s accomplishments, rarely giving credit to the actual process. Ascribing to this view can restrict how you reach your goals as well as your creativity. How you tolerate and manage the skepticism of others will determine how well you continue to pursue your art. Are you able to let the negative comments bounce off, determined not to let them affect your aspirations? Or are you easily swayed by the doubts and criticism of others, leaving you feeling too discouraged to create?

In the midst of creating, you have to face aspects of who you are. For some, this brings about a flood of anxiety too uncomfortable to tolerate. For that reason many creative individuals resort to avoidance, procrastination or even self-medicating as a way to escape themselves. This diminishes their creativity and ultimately ends up in Creative Block. It is important to know yourself and embrace all parts of who you are in order to survive the challenges that accompany creating. It takes courage to face yourself and especially confront what surfaces during the creative process. For this reason, it is essential to relate to yourself in a kind and compassionate way. By developing a healthy and nurturing relationship with yourself, you tap into a well of self-sustaining creativity. You cultivate ongoing motivation and inspiration not dependent on external resources, instead comes from within.

© Copyright 2010 by Lisa Riley. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • KIm J

    September 4th, 2010 at 6:14 AM

    after years of beating myself up i decided after reading this that it was indeed time to start nurturing that inner voice and giving my own self the love and the nurturing that i know that i deserve, just like everyone else- thank you so much for those words of inspiration- they have moved me to take action!

  • George

    September 5th, 2010 at 4:18 AM

    I grew up as a kid always wanting to be a painter or a designer. Well my dad pretty much squashed those dreams for me. But I have always tried to find other ways in life to murture my creativity, and who knows? Now that I make my own way maybe its not too late to go to design school after all!

  • charlie

    September 5th, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    I’ve always dreamt of being a singer.Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a singer and now I’m a high school senior and my parents want me to go to college to study something ‘worthwhile’ and not focus on my ‘time wasting’ singing :(

    I have won quite a few small competitions and its like I am an encyclopedia of songs’ details because I just love music and singing so much.But my parents think all this is a waste and that I need to do something more ‘serious’ in life.I do not know how to convince them.

    I don’t want to go against them either but I do not want to give up my dream.I want to study music and concentrate more on my singing.Is there a way?

  • allen alien

    September 6th, 2010 at 2:15 AM

    although not a great artist I do sketching occasionally and I always tend to sketch happy scenes and smiling people, i just find it hard to sketch anything short of happy, i guess its just because i am a happy and cheerful person who is always smiling.

  • Lisa

    September 6th, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    Kim – I’m glad you found the article to be a source of support and encouragement. Since we all struggle with the inner critical voice, sometimes it takes someone on the outside to tell us that we truly deserve to be kind and supportive to ourselves.

    George – Funny how the creative self will find a way not only to express it self, but to survive and thrive. To ignore that nudge is to deny our true creative self. That is why it is important to honor that voice. One of my favorite quotes:

    “If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint…and that voice will be silenced.” – Van Gogh

  • Lisa

    September 6th, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    Charlie – it can be tricky to find a balance between honoring your own dreams and at the same time appreciate the support and concerns of your parents. It can be helpful to find a compromise that would work for both of you, without giving up your dream. Because pursuing a career in the arts can be challenging many creative individuals have chosen careers/education that served as a backup plan. At the same time they still did what they loved to do and didn’t have to give it up.

  • JaneF

    September 6th, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    I say that if it is something that makes you happy then it is definitely worth pursuing!

  • Tom

    November 15th, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    The parental pressure is the worst all the way around. My father wanted me to become a dentist, so I could support him when he got older is what he said and not because I had some kind of passion for teeth or looking in people’s mouths. So without any support from him I got into college and was on a pre-dental track. I loved the sciences and more so nature, so after two years I changed course and decided I wanted to work with nature. Boy did that piss him off, he was about to hit me when I told him at a family function when his brother, who had been listening to the conversation, stepped in between us and told him that I had to live my life for myself and he needed to butt out. He did, but we didn’t speak for five years. Since then I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life and have never looked back. I encouraged my kids to do whatever they want and I would support them no matter what – they are and I do.

    Listen to yourself.

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