Latest research into the fountain of creativity suggests that being nice to yourself increases creativity. While we humans have a tendency to be compassionate toward our friends, relatives and perfect (or imperfect) strangers, it is thought that on the other hand we have a tendency to be hard on ourselves. A common example can be found in what we could call the old dress construct. Someone says, “Nice dress,” and the response is often, “This old thing?” And if you’re a man it could be the nice dress shirt. Okay so there really isn’t a “dress construct.” But the point is that rather than indulge in self-critical behavior, you ought to give yourself a break in the interest of optimizing your creativity.
Of course this positive self-talk idea is in direct collision with the belief that true artists are more likely to be depressed. One psychiatrist at the vaunted Harvard Medical School, studying the psychological history of several abstract expressionists, found evidence of depression among them. Subjects of the study include Jackson Pollock, William Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning. These guys are thought to have led turbulent personal lives and “imbibed in excess,” or in the common parlance, “drank heavily.” And just for the record, it wasn’t tea. Still, they created remarkable work.
Some in the world of psychology believe creativity is an emotional process and that there is “good emotional,” and “bad emotional.” Bad emotional is when “your inner critic attacks you, calls you mean names, and causes you not to feel like creating anymore.” It isn’t clear what Jackson Pollock’s inner critic was saying to him when he created such works as his famed, “Cathedral.” But critics have been known to attack him and call his work mean names, such as, “Wallpaper.” Regardless, the way to conquer a bad inner critic might just be to tell it to “take a hike.” Who knew?
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