Tag Archives: Perfectionism

Dueling Forces–Creativity and Its Enemies

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Photo Credit: Micaela Parente on Unsplash.com

The more time I give to writing, the more I realize my creativity has “enemies”–things that can sap my creativity if I let them. Some are external, some internal; some are physical, mental, or emotional, but I need to be aware they can appear, and be prepared to deal with them.

“Enemies” of creativity:

  1. Tv shows which have violent, sexual, or just plain stupid content. That mental garbage stays in my mind too long.
  2. News programs–while most end with a positive, heartwarming story, 98% of the coverage is negative. I can’t do anything about the bad stuff. I can easily slide into despair, and that sabotages my creativity.
  3. Workplace gossip and drama. Again, it’s negative, not anything I can do about, and provokes anxiety.
  4. Physical aches and pains–if they are bad enough to be all-consuming. Normally, focusing on writing pushes whatever pain I may have away. I don’t have any pain. But if the pain is severe enough, it’s all I notice, and I have a real battle on my hands to do anything that is the least bit creative.
  5. Perfectionism–a “natural” enemy of creativity, because perfectionism demands perfection, and creativity can’t be forced into the confines of perfection. Creativity requires a sense of freedom, and perfectionism and that sense of freedom are at odds.
  6. Depression–another “natural” enemy of creativity. Depression sometimes comes as a result of physical pain.
  7. Low self-esteem–no surprise, because if you think lowly of yourself, you’ll feel as though you don’t have anything inside you to create with.
  8. Little self-care–this goes along with depression; low self-esteem, and perfectionism (perfectionists are often unrealistically hard on themselves and don’t allow themselves to get the support they need, whether that’s a massage or making a needed doctor’s visit, or whatever).
  9. Clutter–whether it’s physical clutter like papers all over the desk, dust bunnies in plain sight (not even hiding under the bed), or mental clutter such as bitterness, un-forgiveness, resentment, or a tightly-scheduled to-do-list, clutter can be highly detrimental to creativity.
  10. Giving too much weight to other people’s negative opinions of your creative expression. Years ago, a family member told me that “I’d never make any money writing”. I allowed that to squelch my desire to write for a long time. (BTW: that person was wrong; I’ve already made a little bit of money writing. I’ve also received much joy.)

I’ve been thinking of ways to fight these enemies. Creativity means too much to give up without a fight.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–How to be an Imperfectionist

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise goes much deeper into perfectionism than I thought it would. Mr. Guise refers to studies by researchers about what perfectionism is vs. what it is not. The trait is hard for even scientists to pin down, which is probably why some believe not all perfectionism is bad, while others believe it’s all bad–that what’s called “healthy” perfectionism isn’t perfectionism, but rather striving to do the best a person can.

Mr. Guise writes as one who had a tendency towards perfectionism–and found it stifling for the growth of the mind and spirit. In How to be an Imperfectionist he gives ways to free yourself from that mindset, live with more joy and peace, less anxiety, and gain improved physical health as well.

Although the author writes about various studies, this book doesn’t come off as a “textbook”, which is a big plus for me. Mr. Guise gives examples from his own life, as to what worked for him and what didn’t. His tone is as a friend giving a heads-up to another friend.

Comment: This book is a keeper for me. Before I was a teenager, I decided I would avoid mistakes, and so made one of the biggest of my life in going down an unhealthy perfectionist road that only leads to more and more problems. How to be an Imperfectionist opens up a better, much healthier way of thinking.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–The Perfectionist’s Handbook

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Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

The Perfectionist’s Handbook, subtitled Take Risks, Invite Criticism, and Make the Most of Your Mistakes by Jeff Szymanski, PhD, a self-described perfectionist and clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is mainly for people who think their perfectionism generally works well for them, but want to know  when it may drift into unhealthy territory, and how to cope with any tendencies perfectionism brings that they don’t want to have.

Dr. Szymanski describes differences between “healthy” and “unhealthy” perfectionism. He gives the pros and the cons of perfectionism. When serving the person, perfectionism can be good, but taken to the extreme, this mindset can quickly become the master of the person, resulting in serious problems.

I like the way the author uses stories from his life to illustrate what he means. He never “talks down” to the reader. He does refer to a lot of studies, which to this layperson, grew tiresome to read. However, it shows he did his research.

To me, the author generally takes an optimistic view of perfectionism. For differing views of perfectionism, check out How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise and the BBC Future article, “The dangerous downsides of perfectionism” http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180219-toxic-perfectionism-is-on-the-rise). The article links the mindset to OCD, anxiety, self-mutilation, depression, and other problems, with the worst being early mortality and suicide.

As a person realizing the damage I allowed perfectionism to do, I didn’t find The Perfectionist’s Handbook as helpful as I thought it would be.  For my part, I see perfectionism as an enemy; it brings on low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Striving for excellence is good; beating myself up when I don’t reach my standards is not.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–Slaying The Giant–Practical Help for Understanding, Preventing, Overcoming Depression

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Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration, or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”.  As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Slaying The Giant–Practical Help For Understanding, Preventing, Overcoming Depression by French O’Shields is one of the few books I’ve read that can literally be a life-saver. The author, a pastor afflicted with  clinical depression after a physical condition brought an end to his pastoral work, is well-qualified to write about depression, both as a pastor and a former sufferer. The depression he went through was not simply “the blues” but rather the kind that sucks all joy out of life.

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Practice Makes It Easier

“What we hope ever to do with ease, we may learn first to do with diligence.”  Samuel Johnson, Pope, (Lives of the Poets)

Somehow I think I should be able to do everything perfectly–the first time. If not the first time, then the second. If not the second time, well then, definitely the third. If I still don’t get it, there must be something wrong with me, right?

I have the above quote on my computer. Almost every day I read it and the message I get is this:  I need to be patient with myself, give myself grace and space to get used to doing new things.  I am not mechanically inclined; I get confused easily when working with even the simplest tools to do the simplest chores. Anyone unfortunate enough to be working with me needs a lot of patience.

Samuel Johnson’s words now serve as a guide and learning plan for me.

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