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!”
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.
[Continued from Part 1]
What does creative excellence take?
In his article How to Win American Idol, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman refers to research by Rena Subotnik and Linda Jarvin, who “interviewed over 80 top students at different stages of their musical careers and identified the traits important to succeed at every stage on the way to the top.
“The three abilities that were absolutely necessary as a baseline were intrinsic motivation, charisma, and musicality.”
But for musicians at an “elite” level of talent, “technical proficiency mattered less and the following factors rose to prominence: self-promotion skills, having a good agent, capitalizing on strengths, overcoming self-doubt, exuding self-confidence, good social skills, persevering through criticisms and defeats, and taking risks.”
How does a brutal teaching style impact those factors?
“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.”
The tone of a number of responses to the suicide of Robin Williams seem based in the insidious “Crazy Artist” mythology: that artistic creativity depends on mental disorder.
A number of people have expressed the idea that his brilliance and creative comic energy were fueled by his “demons” including addiction and bipolar depression.
One example was columnist Meghan Daum, who wrote: “As an actor and a comic, his emotional pendulum swung in a wide arc between manic ebullience and almost Zen-like sincerity.
“And the ease with which he occupied both realms…must surely be a kind of bipolar magic.”
“That’s when your art becomes more and more successful in the world. It begins with treating yourself with love, respect, kindness, and compassion.”
Those quotes by coach and author Cheryl Richardson relate to her extensive writing and teaching on self-care for creative and highly sensitive people.
She is presenting “Self-Care for the Creative Soul” with Alanis Morissette – a retreat March 2-6, 2014, at Miraval Resort in Tucson, Arizona.
[See Part 1]
Many artists use creative expression to explore and express pain in life, but does creative work itself have to be painful for most of us?
Frida Kahlo painted a series of self-portraits as a depiction of the years of treatment (including orthopedic appliances) she had to endure after a devastating spinal cord injury as a teenager.
See more in article: Pain and suffering and developing creativity.
Creativity coach and author Julia Cameron comments on part of the challenge of being actively creative:
“Creativity involves process, and process involves change. The truism we often hear is that we often resist change because change is difficult or change is painful.
“This is not quite accurate. It is the resistance to change that is difficult or painful. In the same way, it is the resistance to our creativity that causes us to equate it with suffering.”
Preparation is often a crucial part of creative work, and many, if not most, creative people are highly sensitive – which can enhance this preparation.
With something like twenty percent of us being highly sensitive, that means there are many performers with the trait – musicians, actors, public speakers.
In her book The Highly Sensitive Person, psychologist Elaine Aron, PhD writes that public speaking or performing is “a natural for HSPs… First, we often feel we have something important to say that others have missed. When others are grateful for our contribution, we feel rewarded, and the next time is easier.
“Second, we prepare. In some situations… we can seem ‘compulsive’ to people not as determined as ourselves to prevent all unnecessary surprises. But anyone would be a fool not to ‘overprepare’ for the extra arousal due to an audience. Having prepared best, we succeed most.”
Emma Watson on being introverted:
“People say things to me like, ‘It’s really cool that you don’t go out and get drunk all the time and go to clubs,’ and I’m just like…I appreciate that, but I’m kind of an introverted kind of person just by nature, it’s not like a conscious choice that I’m making necessarily. It’s genuinely who I am.”
She refers to the book ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain, and notes it discusses how “if you’re anything other than an [extrovert] you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.
“That’s like the story of my life. Coming to realize that about myself was very empowering, because I had felt like, Oh my god, there must be something wrong with me, because I don’t want to go out and do what all my friends want to do.”
[Continued from Part 1.]
“I remember when I met director Ang Lee and we were left alone. I was so shy and he was so shy neither of us said anything to each other for about 20 minutes.”
Actor Sigourney Weaver – From post: Director Ang Lee: The Artist, The Introvert.
One of the things I find really fascinating about a number of dynamic actors who have such power and presence in movies and on television, is they identify themselves as shy or introverted.
Here are a few more comments by well-known actors and other artists:
Evan Rachel Wood: “I used to not even be able to order pizza on the phone because I was just so shy. I think that’s why so much comes out on-screen, because that’s my time to let go in a safe place.”
Jane Fonda: “Acting was the last thing in the world I wanted to do, I was so shy. But I got fired as a secretary and had to earn some money.”
Nicole Kidman: “It was very natural for me to want to disappear into dark theater, I am really very shy. That is something that people never seem to fully grasp because, when you are an actor, you are meant to be an exhibitionist.”