In Part 1 of this article Eric Maisel talks about moving from an everyday mindset of “getting things right” to a creative mindset “where huge mistakes and messes are permitted and even welcomed.”
But many of us tend to be perfectionistic – which can help drive excellence, but may also support anxiety and creative constriction.
Psychologist Stephen A. Diamond notes “Were it not for perfectionism, we would be in short supply of all those myriad human activities we deem extraordinary, excellent, outstanding or great in quality.”
But in his Psych Central article “Perfectionism: Adaptation or Pathology?”, Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. notes, “Somewhere on a continuum between normality and pathology there is a point at which the behavior results in functional impairment.” Read more in my post Too Much Perfectionism.
Coach and author Barbara Sher has a helpful perspective on this.
She commented, “One problem I run into with a lot of Scanners [multitalented people] is perfectionism, which means ‘I want to do something so well that nobody will criticize me.’ That’s all it means. When you say ‘I’m my own worst critic,’ that’s not true; I mean you may be now, but you learned it; nobody was born criticizing themselves. Walk to a crib, when the baby knows how to talk, and say, How bad do you feel about yourself, Sugar?”
[From video: Refuse to Choose: Scanners Must Use All Their Gifts.]
So one of the ways to be more freely expressive and creatively brave is to learn when striving to be “perfect” helps your work, and when it increases your anxiety and self-criticism too much.
“I am finally doing pictures for myself… I realized that I am my own worst enemy. I’m the one, who by doing what I think other people want from me, who has held myself back… haven’t let myself grow or listened enough to my own voice. It’s so important to listen to your own voice.”
Photographer Annie Leibovitz – from book: Women, Creativity, and the Arts.
Fear of failure
Belief change mentor and author Morty Lefkoe writes:
“Because so many people fear failure it is often considered to be human nature. I disagree.
“Yes, it is common, but this fear is not inherent in being a human being…In order to understand why a fear of failure is so common you first need to understand the cause of the fear.
“The primary cause is three beliefs: * ‘Mistakes and failure are bad,’ * ‘If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected’ and * ‘What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me.’
“These three beliefs—which most children form in childhood—necessarily lead to a fear of failure.”
He also notes the conditioning process that fear gets “associated with failure, in other words, you are conditioned to automatically feel fear when one fails or even thinks one might fail.”
From his post “What’s Really Behind The Fear Of Taking Action… And What You Can Do About It” December 3, 2013, on mortylefkoe.com.
You can eliminate a self-limiting belief free using his Lefkoe Method at ReCreate Your Life.
[Image: Photographer Annie Leibovitz and her assistant Robert Bean, standing on one of the eight gargoyles atop the Chrysler Building. Photo from article Gaga Over a Gargoyle, Smithsonian magazine, February 2008.]
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Another of the “Top 10 Big Ideas” of the online class “How to Create Fearlessly with Dr. Eric Maisel” addresses this topic: “The reality of process is that not everything you create will turn out well. You must accept this reality and learn the necessary dance of attachment and detachment. Maintain your dreams, desires, and ambitions for your creative work while at the same time accepting that only a percentage of what you attempt will prove successful!”
In this video clip, Maisel emphasizes that persistence and courage are even more important than talent for creative success.
[Ignore “Suggested Clips”; click “See More” to view original video.]
In his book The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle, Steven Pressfield writes about a number of challenges we may face as creative people, including our fear of “discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity.”
Getting on the path toward making a creative project may bring up this kind of “fear of success” for some people. Another challenge to be more courageous. Just go ahead and create.
[Image at top: photographer Margaret Bourke-White working atop the Chrysler Building, 1934.]
Some related resources
Article: Being Bold To Be Creative.
Online class: How to Create Fearlessly with Dr. Eric Maisel – one of many classes on personal development for subscribers to the Academy for Optimal Living.
Book: Why Smart People Hurt: A Guide for the Bright, the Sensitive, and the Creative, by Eric Maisel
Addresses challenges including: “The sheer hardness of thinking, as evidenced by how hard it is to grasp the plot of the novel you’re writing, produce a breakthrough in your scientific field, or see enough moves ahead in chess… The surprising self-unfriendliness of a good mind: a mind that involves itself in personal inquisitions, torrents of self-recriminations, repetitive brooding, and other painful self-reprisals.”
Book: Present Perfect: A Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need for Control, by Pavel G. Somov.
List of Barbara Sher books.
Online course: Making Dreams Happen with Barbara Sher, Barbara Winter, Valerie Young and other successful entrepreneurs – “Whether you dream of starting your own import-export business… writing a best-selling novel… owning a dude ranch… working with kids… helping underprivileged families… whatever your passion… you’ll learn how to harness that vision… and build a life around it that not only provides you a living… but feeds your spirit, too.”
Article: Are you a scanner personality? Maybe all you need is a good enough job. – Barbara Sher writes about and leads retreats for Scanners – “also known as renaissance men and women, eclectic experts, happy amateurs and delighted dilettantes.” She notes they do not generally follow a linear career path, but may flourish with a series of jobs that are “good enough” to provide a living without being toxic.