Creativity + self esteem = ?

There’s a link between creativity and self esteem, I’m not entirely sure what it is. I know a fair few creative entities and I have found that many “creative types” struggle with their self esteem. What an artist does is so filled with themselves, that if it is not popular or remains unsold then they frequently suffer pangs of low self worth. That’s one theory. Another theory is that for whatever reason those with low self esteem become artists and then don’t feel that they should charge what they are worth, that their work is terrible, yada, yada, yada. I know people in both camps.

There are no easy ways to change this thinking! I think, ultimately, that one needs to stop looking for external approval and be comfortable in one’s own skin. For example, a client books you for a session, you show them your proofs, they don’t buy any of them. I know people that would go “they didn’t like them. I thought they were my best work ever. I mustn’t be very good if they didn’t buy them” and things spiral out of control. A more healthy way to approach it would be “They didn’t buy them, I liked them – next client!” We don’t know why people do or don’t do things as we cannot read people’s minds (unless, of course, you are Sookie Stackhouse).

(This is my perspective of this moment. You don’t have to like it)

Not everyone will see things from our perspective – there is an emphasis on the word “OUR”. Sometimes we need to consider other people’s perspectives (you know, walk a mile in another person’s shoes and all that) and other times we just don’t. When creating art, cutting out that voice of “I wonder how many people will like this, if the client likes this, if it will make Flickr explore, if someone will buy this” is almost essential. Rather than listening to the moment, what is in front of you around you, you are focussing on something so far away and un real that you are going to stop thinking creatively. The way to cut out that voice is really simple, to be almost difficult:

You have to choose to stop thinking in that way.

Easy, yes?



When these intrusive thoughts pop in, sharply close them. Focus on something in front of you. Focus on your viewfinder crosshairs. Take a deep breath, repeat your mantra (I can do this & I am good at this feature prominently in mine) and most importantly SMILE. When we smile, there is a thing called the “facial feedback hypothesis” and our brain thinks we like doing something. If we start saying positive things about ourselves in difficult circumstances and smiling, our habits are on the way to changing.

My favourite author for the past few years has been the incredible Paul Arden (the world lost an incredible creative the day he left us) and I’ll leave you with a little bit of a quote from his amazing book “Whatever you think, think the opposite“:

When you look back there will be things you regret.

You made the wrong decision.

Wrong. You made the right decision.

Life is about decisions…

Whatever decision you make is the only one you could make.

Otherwise you would make a different one. Everything we do we choose.

So what is there to regret?

You are the person you chose to be.

Choose greatness, Choose yourself.

2 thoughts on “Creativity + self esteem = ?

  1. did you write this for me? probably not, but it feels like it and I so very much appreciate it. thank you for challenging me, pushing me and reminding me why i do what i do. heart you.
    p.s. i don’t like your perspective. i love it.

    • Actually, it isn’t for you 🙂 That’s the thing, we ALL do it. External locus of control and all…! Thank-you for the love, Ms. Carly!

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