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Be More Creative to Thrive as an Introvert or Highly Sensitive Person

Tory Burch

As a creative person, one aspect of your personality is probably high sensitivity. You may also be an introvert.

Psychologist Elaine Aron, who developed the concept of sensory processing sensitivity in her research and writings, thinks all highly sensitive people (HSPs) “are creative, by definition.”

But, she warns, “Many have squashed their creativity because of their low self-esteem; many more had it squashed for them, before they could ever know about. But we all have it…”

She adds, “One of the best ways to make life meaningful for an HSP is to use that creativity.”

Creativity coach Eric Maisel notes that making meaning in our lives and work are especially important for creative people.

From post: Elaine Aron on Creativity and Sensitivity.

See more quotes (and video: “The Highly Sensitive Person: An Interview with Elaine Aron”) in article Being Highly Sensitive and Creative.

Elaine Aron, PhD is author of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You and other books on the topic.

Eric Maisel, PhD is author of books including Life Purpose Boot Camp about creating a meaningful life.

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Self esteem, impostor feelings

Having a healthy and positive self concept is one way to be more creative – but it can be a challenge for many of us.

Even with exceptional acclaim from others. Nobel Prize laureate poet and writer Czeslaw Milosz, for example, once confessed: “From early on writing for me has been a way to overcome my real or imagined worthlessness.”

From post Creative But Insecure.

Valerie Young, Ed.D. is an expert on impostor syndrome and commented in an Entrepreneur magazine article:

“Millions of people, from entrepreneurs to celebrities, have a hard time internalizing their accomplishments.”

From post: Getting Beyond Impostor Feelings.

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Napoleon DynamiteAs highly sensitive people, we may also be introverted.

But these traits are on a spectrum: we tend to be more predominantly one or the other, but that doesn’t mean that we are only one way all the time.

And these traits overlap: the very popular book by Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Dr. Aron says, “is actually more about HSPs (highly sensitive people) than social introverts.”

From my post Are Introverts More Creative?

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Sensitivity can nurture creative expression, but can also bring challenges, from being more emotionally reactive, for example.

The photo at top is Tory Burch – a fashion designer and founder of a successful international fashion empire.

[She is in a Forbes magazine article on Self-Made Women Billionaires Of 2013. The photo is from Tory Burch Interview by Elizabeth Atwater, Entrepreneurship of All Kinds.]

But she has said it was challenging for her in setting up her eponymous business.

“I had never been to business school. I had never been to design school. It was a risk. It was putting myself out there in a way that was opening myself up for criticism. I’m a sensitive person. So, it was hard.”

From my post Introverted, Shy or Highly Sensitive in the Arts.

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The artists and creative entrepreneurs who get featured in media as role models of achievement did not reach that level of accomplishment and impact suddenly, and usually they have had many inner and outer barriers to overcome or at least deal with, including choosing whether or not to earn a living from their creative work.

Elaine Aron points out, “Many artists and musicians…find that the world won’t pay them well unless they do something that seems to them to be too commercial or simply against their nature.”

From her book The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook.

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Andy Warhol with "Flowers"

Maria Hill of the excellent HSP Health site writes about some of the influences that may keep us from being actively creative.

“Our culture separates ideas from making things, but treats even the process of generating ideas as something to be manufactured. As a result, our relationship to our creativity is affected by our cultural model.

“Manufacturing is not a natural HSP energy and can cause a feeling of disconnection in highly sensitive people who are more creative and holistic.

“One way highly sensitive people can embrace their natural energies and creativity is by reclaiming the creative process.”

From her post Why HSPs Need To Reclaim The Creative Process.

[“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – a comment by Andy Warhol, who “manufactured” a whole lot of artwork. Quote is from post: Commerce and Creativity. Image: Andy Warhol with ‘Flowers’ at The Factory (1964) from]

In another post, Hill writes:

“Highly sensitive people often have difficulty maintaining control over their own lives, because they have different priorities from non-HSPs which means that they often have little say over work and social agendas because highly sensitive people are usually outnumbered.

“Therefore in work and social situations we often get preempted which is very uncomfortable.

“However, HSPs are often creative. In embracing the creative process we can start to regain control over our agenda.”

From How The Creative Process Helps Highly Sensitive People.

One point I take from her perspectives is that being more creative is a way to get in deeper touch with who we are – even though it may or may not be “productive” in terms of making something that people will buy.

We do need income of course, and selling our creative work has very real rewards.

But isn’t the process of being actively creative its own kind of pleasure and reward?


Be More Creative to Thrive as an Introvert or Highly Sensitive Person

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2015). Be More Creative to Thrive as an Introvert or Highly Sensitive Person. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 8, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 May 2015
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