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Be More Creative: What Is Your Self Concept?


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One reason for discounting our creative abilities is comparing ourselves to other people, especially well-known and successful artists. Myths about artists being "crazy" or "starving" may also influence how much we may be motivated to live a creative life.

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Be More Creative: What Is Your Self Concept?

  1. 1. Be More Creative: What Is Your Self Concept? by Douglas Eby
  2. 2. "Anyone who says 'I don’t have a creative bone in my body' is seriously underestimating their skeleton. "More to the point, they are drastically undervaluing their brain." From article: 10 Reasons Why We Struggle With Creativity by David DiSalvo []
  3. 3. One reason for discounting our creative abilities is comparing ourselves to well-known and successful artists. One example: Dean Koontz has written multiple novels on the New York Times Best-Seller List, and is reportedly a millionaire.
  4. 4. Lady Gaga has sold over 23 million albums and 64 million singles worldwide, and been awarded at least five Grammy Awards. By the way, as a teenager, she was identified as gifted.
  5. 5. Movies can be a major source of images and ideas of what creative people are like. He was an image of high passion, high drama, plenty of sturm and drang - yet many creative people are inner-directed and highly sensitive, often working quietly alone. One of the influences on my concept of “artist” was Charlton Heston as Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy, 1965.
  6. 6. Many artists create work to present a fuller and more authentic representation of themselves and other people than what appears in entertainment media. Painter and novelist Laura Molina notes, "As an educated, native- born, English-speaking, fifth generation Mexican-American and a feminist, there is almost no reflection of me in the movies or television, which is almost as bad as being stereotyped."
  7. 7. Do you compare yourself with other creative people, especially the "big names"? Maybe you say things like: "I don't have their talent" or "They've been lucky" or "I can't paint." Really? Even an elephant can paint - and have an "agent" that sells their "artwork." [The photo is from The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project.]
  8. 8. "Author Betty Edwards asks, “Why do we assume that a rare and special ‘artistic’ talent is required for drawing? We don’t make that assumption about other kinds of abilities."
  9. 9. She adds, “If you can catch a baseball, thread a needle, or hold a pencil and write your name, you can learn to draw skillfully, artistically, and creatively.” From her book Drawing on the Artist Within
  10. 10. Personal growth psychologist Abraham Maslow once commented: “We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.”
  11. 11. This image is bird pins made of scrap wood, paint and metal, from the book: The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946.
  12. 12. Most of the people in the camps were not professional artists – they were doctors, dentists, farmers, shop owners, teachers. Yet they created a variety of furniture, sculpture, paintings and writings, performed skits and played music.
  13. 13. Gloria Steinem has pointed out: “Most art in the world does not have a capital ‘A,’ but is a way of turning everyday objects into personal expressions.”
  14. 14. She also said that telling ourselves “I can’t write,” “I can’t paint” (or whatever) is really saying, “I can’t meet some outside standard. I’m not acceptable as I am.” From her book Revolution From Within.
  15. 15. Instead of saying. "I'm not a painter" (or writer, or musician, designer, or whatever), it can be helpful to think, "I would like to paint something, just for the experience, and see if I like doing it."
  16. 16. Artists are often depicted in movies and media in ways that may promote myths about what it takes to be a “real” singer, writer, actor, painter or other creator. One example is the movie “Art School Confidential” – source of this image.
  17. 17. Writer, poet, playwright and filmmaker Julia Cameron sometimes asks people to list ten traits they think artists have. She reports they say things like “Artists are broke,” “Artists are crazy,” “Artists are drug-addicted” and “Artists are drunk.”
  18. 18. An example of this kind of perception of artists: actor Natalie Portman once admitted, “Sometimes I get scared that I’m not a creative person, because it seems creative people are really flaky…”
  19. 19. Cameron added, “When young people tell their parents, ‘I’d love to be a writer,’ their parents say, ‘Don’t you think you might need something to fall back on?’ “We’re also trained to believe that some people born knowing they’re artists are the ‘real’ artists... "We have a mythology about artistry that tends to be very daunting.” Julia Cameron is author of “The Artist’s Way.”
  20. 20. In her book "The Highly Sensitive Person," Elaine Aron PhD writes about some of the often mistaken ideas about creative people: “It is part of the myth or archetype of the artist that any psychological help will destroy creativity by making the artist too normal.” Musician Sting used to be known as ‘The King of Pain’
  21. 21. Sting said in a documentary, “Do I have to be in pain to write? I thought so - that you had to be the struggling artist, the tortured, painful, poetic wreck. "But I’d like to do my work, and be a happy man. I’ve got enough memories of pain, of dysfunctional living to last me the rest of my life, so I don’t really need to manufacture that kind of life to be creative."
  22. 22. Actor Emma Watson, for example, said: “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved." Another aspect of self concept: Many talented and creative people experience impostor feelings and beliefs about themselves, despite their accomplishments.
  23. 23. Meryl Streep has said, “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing…. “You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent… Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing.”
  24. 24. Jonathan Safran Foer commented about his New York Times best-selling novel "Everything Is Illuminated" : “I can be very hard on myself. I convince myself that I’m fooling people. Or, I convince myself that people like the book for the wrong reasons.”
  25. 25. Actor Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) “spent much of her life feeling like a fraud…at the Juilliard School she was terrified she’d be exposed as a talentless hack and sent home.” [GQ Magazine] “It’s really why I never partied with the other students,” she says.
  26. 26. “Photography, painting or poetry – those are just extensions of me, how I perceive things, they are my way of communicating.” Actor Viggo Mortensen from post: Multitalented creative people "Creative expression derives directly from the unique Self of the creator…the whole process is accompanied by a feeling of aliveness." Educator Annemarie Roeper - Quoted in book The Gifted Adult
  27. 27. For more on this broad topic of creativity and identity : Artists are Crazy; Mothers Can’t Be Artists, and Other Myths You want to be an artist? Are you crazy? Creative People and Mental Health: Interview with Psychologist Cheryl Arutt Getting beyond impostor feelings ~ ~ ~ Also see longer PDF version of this presentation, with more text and links, on Scribd: Be More Creative: What Is Your Self Concept?
  28. 28. Presenter: Douglas Eby, M.A./Psychology Creator of the Talent Development Resources series of sites :