“If I was in denial about my sexuality, I’d be in denial about aspects of my work, which deals with personal revelations.” Artist Tracey Emin
“Sexuality is the greatest gift we’ve been given. Its energy is the basis of creativity, love, ambition, desire, life. Sexuality has gotten all these bad raps because it’s so powerful.” Writer Eve Ensler
In his writings and presentations about being creative, Michael Gelb addresses many topics, including being sensitive and creative:
“Every sound and every silence provides an opportunity to deepen auditory attunement; but city sounds can be overwhelming and cause us to dull our sensitivity.
“Surrounded by noises from televisions, airplanes, subways and automobiles, most of us ‘tune out’ for self-protection.”
Probably most of us experience worry, stress and various kinds of anxiety to some extent, but creative people may be especially vulnerable to these mood and health challenges.
As psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel notes, “Life produces stress, the artistic personality produces additional stress, creating produces even more stress, and living the artist’s life is the topper!”
“When we are happy, we are very superficial in our thinking.”
A clinical psychologist, professor and well-being researcher, Todd Kashdan addresses how happiness and “unwanted” emotions affect creative thinking and overall well-being in his book “The Upside of Your Dark Side” – an admittedly ‘provocative’ title that may bring to mind Darth Vader.
What some may label “negative” emotions and ideas are what psychologist Carl Jung and others identify as part of the Shadow Self, which may in varying degrees be shut away from our awareness by active suppression or repression and just not paying attention.
But as artists and others realize, our inner depths – this wealth of emotional and imaginational material – can provide material for creative expression.
“Swept up by the deeper states of play, one feels balanced, creative, focused…”
Diane Ackerman is a poet, essayist and naturalist who has taught at a number of universities, including Columbia and Cornell. In her book “Deep Play” she talks about being able to “play anywhere that is set off from reality, whether it be a playground, a field, a church or a garage.
“Deep play doesn’t have to do with an activity, like shallow play. It has to do with attitude or an extraordinarily intense state…”
This is, she notes, a way to experience flow, which enhances creative work:
Highly sensitive people are considered by many to be exceptionally creative as a group.
Psychologist Elaine Aron even declares “I know ALL HSPs are creative, by definition.”
The personality trait (technically referred to as sensory processing sensitivity, SPS) may show up in curious ways for some of us who are highly sensitive.
As devastating as schizophrenia can be, a number of people with the mental illness lead active and creative lives. Some research even indicates the type of thinking that characterizes the disorder can facilitate creativity.
“Imagination…discovers the real.”
Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was a daughter of poet Lord Byron, and worked with polymath Charles Babbage, who called her The Enchantress of Numbers.
The computer language ADA was named after her, in recognition of her work that helped originate software and computers.
Ada Lovelace talked about her passions for creative imagination and math:
“Imagination is the Discovering Faculty, pre-eminently … It is that which feels & discovers what is, the REAL which we see not, which exists not for our senses.
“The very impulse to write, I think, springs from an inner chaos crying for order, for meaning, and that meaning must be discovered in the process of writing or the work lies dead as it is finished.” Arthur Miller
Creative people and writers about the creative process often say creative work is a way to release or make use of inner chaos; what is this turmoil?
Psychologist Stephen Diamond declares in his book that our impulse to be creative “can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict.”
“For me, fashion is incredibly emotional. I go to shows in Paris and try not to cry.” Actor Jessica Chastain
Qualities such as emotionality and empathy can help highly sensitive people be especially creative.
The self-test Are You Highly Sensitive? by Elaine N. Aron, PhD includes the items:
“I have a rich, complex inner life” and
“I am deeply moved by the arts or music.”