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Anxious thinking about our abilities

Posted Feb 18 2013 1:10am

Steven Spielberg“I still have pretty much the same fears I had as a kid. I’m not sure I’d want to give them up; a lot of these insecurities fuel the movies I make.” Steven Spielberg

There can be many flavors of anxiety related to creating – thinking about a project, worrying whether a description of a character in your novel has the right tone, self-doubts about your acting scene that felt wrong – and on and on.

And being highly talented, successful and accomplished does not magically relieve anyone of fear and anxiety.

Many creative people talk about using their anxieties to help them pursue excellence, but anxious thinking and feeling can also erode creativity.

Creativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel, PhD explains, “First of all, so much is on the line. For someone who’s self-identified as a writer, painter, composer, scientist, inventor, and so on, his identity and ego are wrapped up in how well he creates—and when what we do matters that much, we naturally get anxious.”

One of his many books: Mastering Creative Anxiety : 24 Lessons for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Actors from America’s Foremost Creativity Coach.

From my post Creative Anxiety – So Much On The Line .

“I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing…You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent… Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing.” Meryl Streep

Impostor Feelings like Streep admits to having, in spite of multiple awards and acclaim, impact many highly talented people.

Dr. Valerie Young notes on her site that this is not an issue for only one gender.

“Men are attending my seminars in increasing numbers, and among graduate students the male-female ratio is roughly fifty-fifty. I’ve heard from or worked with countless men who suffer terribly from their fraud fears, including a member of the Canadian mounted police, an attorney who’d argued before the Supreme Court, a corporate CEO, and an entire team of aerospace engineers, one of whom spoke of the “sheer terror” he feels when handed a major assignment.”

Referring to her book, she says “Despite the title you will find male voices reflected in the book. Once you read the book it will be clear why, in the end, there were more reasons than not to focus more so on women.”

Book: The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women : Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, by Valerie Young, Ed.D.

Learn more about “Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It” at Dr. Valerie Young’s site Overcome the Impostor Syndrome .

Deanne Repich, Founder and Director of the National Institute of Anxiety and Stress, writes about anxiety and insecurity-related thinking in a work context, and how to help alleviate anxious feelings:

“Anxious thought: ‘Everyone is going to find out that I’m not as talented as they think and I’ll get fired.’

“Why this is not true: You ARE talented. You are probably feeling anxious because you are expecting yourself to be “the best person that’s done this job ever, in any universe. In other words, you’re expecting more from yourself than your bosses and coworkers are expecting. You have unrealistic self-expectations.”

From her article Soothing Anxious Thoughts about Work .

“To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self.”
Soren Kierkegaard [1813-1855]

Many talented people may experience insecurities, impostor feelings and other forms of anxiety – feelings which can interfere with creative expression.

Lesley Sword, director of Gifted and Creative Services, in Australia, finds that gifted children are “highly self critical and over reactive to the criticism of others. They express dissatisfaction with themselves; they see what ‘ought to be’ in themselves… They have a vision of perfectionism that they measure themselves against and they can become despondent sometimes even depressed, at their perceived failure.”

As adults, we may not have come to terms with those same kinds of feelings and thoughts.

See multiple posts on my High Ability site related to .

Many gifted, creative people are also highly sensitive, which can include vulnerabilities to anxiety.

Video: Being Highly Sensitive – With Anxiety

Anxiety relief self-help program mentioned in the video: The Linden Method (link to page on my Anxiety Relief Solutions site).

Being highly sensitive probably increases our vulnerability to anxiety. I’m sure that has been the case for me, and I have had varying degrees of anxiety for most of my life. Posts like this, I hope, will help other people reduce their anxieties.

Elaine Aron, PhD thinks “high sensitivity increases the impact of all emotionally tinged events, making childhood trauma particularly scarring.”

From my post Sensitive to anxiety.

Here are some more related articles and pages:

More articles by Deanne Repich

Meryl Streep quote from post: ‘I’m a Fraud’: Gifted and talented but insecure .

10 Steps to Overcome the Impostor Syndrome , by Dr. Valerie Young

My articles: Feeling like an impostor , and Being Creative and Self-critical

Anxiety Relief Solutions site  – Multiple drug-free self-help products and programs to relieve social anxiety, stage fright, performance anxiety and other forms of stress and anxiety.


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