July 2, 2012

Don’t Let Fear and Approval-Seeking Ravage Your Creativity

photo of the beachWhat are the killers of creativity (and the inner feeling of freedom that it produces)?

The twin vipers of fear and approval-seeking.

Those two just do us no good.

Any creative artist or person who is excels in their field does not allow fear and approval-seeking to dictate their work (or their life!). They may still be present in some form, but they actively focus on managing and minimizing them. They know that to let the fear grow will only ravage their creativity and diminish the enjoyment of their work.

What are you going to end up with if, in your creative endeavours, you try to please everyone in your life (and people you don’t even know)? Taken to the extreme, you will end up producing absolutely nothing because you would be so afraid of any potential criticism from people.

Playing it Safe and Creativity Don’t Live in the Same House

We just play it way too safe sometimes. Maybe we got criticized a couple of times when we were younger, and unconsciously, that fear of criticism still holds us back. As adults, pressure to conform, to be generic and mediocre is massive (but often subtle and covert). It’s “safer” to not stand out too much or be too different. You don’t want to be kicked out of the tribe, do you?

Does everyone in the world have to like what you do and what you produce? Of course not. That’s impossible. But that’s the typical mindset that we often are caught up in. We think: I NEED people to like what I do, what I have made (and therefore, like who I am). Everyone must like what I do and no-one can disapprove.

Worrying about what others think about us, about what we do and what we look like has got to be one of the biggest issues that most of us face, and it causes so much damage and emotional stress. It really keeps us small and stifled. I see this perpetual self-doubt and self-criticism everywhere. These mindsets didn’t end back in junior high school, unfortunately. In fact, this habit may even have a stronger hold on us as adults.

Receiving support, encouragement and positive feedback in our creative work is definitely helpful and welcomed, but it may be wise not to get too attached to it or to cater to it.

Being creative has intrinsic value even if no-one likes what you’ve produced. Even if no-one sees it or hears it. You’re being creative just for the sake of being creative. Because you have some level of passion for, or some strong interest in, whatever activity you’re doing. You would do it regardless of positive or negative feedback from people.

The more we focus on creativity, the more it will spread into all other areas of our lives almost automatically. Creativity yields a feeling of freedom, enjoyment, and the magic of possibility. It’s worth cultivating. On purpose.

Ok. I gotta go now and record a cover version of Abba’s, “Dancing Queen”, using only the strings on my squash racket and uhhh…I’ll get my neighbour’s cat to do the vocals. That should be weird…but creative.

Nacho del Sol

I'm Nigel. A wandering minstrel at heart. Playing for other wandering souls. Love full sun. Been known to indulge in sonic experiments. If I ever fake my own death, I will flee to Costa Rica and re-name myself Nacho del Sol. I will travel only by donkey and befriend all the locals.

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Matthew Pearl - July 5, 2012 Reply

So what is creativity, Nacho Del Sol? Is it a feeling? Is it a flowing with that feeling? If it is only a feeling though, what is not creativity with relation to feeling? Can you be creative at all times? What is creativity? I hope that you explore this question in coming posts. It is very important to me and I am looking for ideas…

Nacho del Sol - July 5, 2012 Reply

Thanks for the great questions, Matt! I’ve been thinking about them today, and I’m sure I’ll be able to incorporate them into some future articles.

Put simply, for me, creativity is innovation. Producing something new, fresh, original, thought-provoking, feeling-inducing…I’m sure I’ve got more to say on this, but I’ll let it sit for awhile before I write something. Right on, man!

I Burned My Guitar. Go Kill Yourself, Pop Music. - Nacho del Sol - July 14, 2012 Reply

[…] Creativity flourishes in the absence of fear, self-criticism, judgement, following stale rules, and in the absence of self-consciousness. […]

Does Creativity Have Standards? - Nacho del Sol - August 11, 2012 Reply

[…] may ask, “But I thought creativity flourished under non-judgemental conditions? If I’m holding myself to standards, aren’t I […]

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