Photo credit: Thomas Martinsen — Unsplash

9 Things To Give Up That Are Sabotaging Your Creativity

We are all born creative.

Creativity flows freely through us on its own, like breathing, and we know when this flow is strong.

It feels good, like we’re in plugged in and turned on. What we do becomes effortless, intrinsically motivating, more satisfying, and our perception of time warps.

The problem is, we sabotage our creativity.

We stand in the way of our own creative current and blocks form. And if we do this frequently enough and for long enough, we can forget that we are creative altogether.

We feel stuck.

Like we are living in a world with less potential and opportunity.

Luckily, to get the river flowing again, all you need to do is step out of your own way.

And the best part?

Try just giving up one of these, and you’ll find it tips the domino on giving up on the others.

1) Give Up The Takers

Credit: Lord of the Rings — The Fellowship of the Ring
“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou

People who identify as being creative are almost always Givers.

They create, which means they produce and add value to the world. They give to those around them, because giving is just an honest expression of who they are. But a major weakness of Givers is that they are easily taken advantage of by Takers.

Takers are those who aren’t in connection with their capacity to give, and see someone who is constantly generating energy as an easy source to leech from.

Givers easily get caught up in self-destructive relationships with Takers, because they feel like the taker pulls more out of them and inspires them to continually create more, which feels like a challenge and growth.

But the reality is that it is not a challenge, they are just being drained.

Maybe you can relate?

Instead of getting trapped in endless cycles with takers, endeavor to surround yourself with other givers. They’re easy to find, because they resonate like you. The come from a place of service, not ego. And together, you will dramatically amplify the energy you both have.

So, try to identify who in your life takes more than they give and start limiting the time you spend with those people.

You may find you have more to give in the end.

Result: when you give up takers and instead surround yourself with other givers your potential together is infinite.

2) Give Up Mindless Thumb Scrolling

“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” Henry David Thoreau

We live in a world of distractions. We carry around tiny supercomputers with us everywhere we go and like any tool, we can use them to amplify our creativity or sabotage it.

In a new study by Flurry Analytics, it was reported that U.S. consumers now spend a total of 5 hours per day on average on their phones. Whether that’s streaming a new series, or refreshing your Facebook feed, that time is almost never being used in a way that is in alignment with your highest creative goals.

So, pay attention to your habits on your mobile, and see what this number is for you.

Chances are, it is higher than you’re comfortable with admitting.

But instead of totally cutting out this obsession from your life, replace it with your passions.

Use the time you already spend on your phone researching your project, and reading the works of those you admire.

When you are passionate about something, bathe yourself in it. Obsess over it. Your passion is telling you where the source of your creative energy is and is giving you an easy access point to it.

Give up the mindless thumb scrolling and replace it with your passions. It will drain you less and give you new ways to access your creative energy.

Result: give up mindless thumb scrolling and replace that obsession with your passions, so that even your procrastination time is in alignment with your creative goals.

3) Give Up Your Past

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard

More times than not we know what we should be doing. We know that if our goal is to write a book, that we should be writing every day. We know if our goal is to be wealthy, we should be selling things every day.

The problem is, even though we know the habits that lead to our goals, if these habits are out of alignment with who we’ve always been, then we will feel tremendous resistance to them.

We will feel like they just aren’t us — or more accurately — they aren’t in alignment with who we have always been.

So, how do we take actions that serve our creative vision, when they go against how we have always been?

Give up your past. Give up the mask of who you’ve been. That person is gone. The only reason you still act as if they are real, is because you choose each day to believe that they are. You recreate that person in every moment, which takes up energy you could be using to create who you need to be today.

So, stop using this energy to maintain your past. Let go of all that does not serve you. Be present with who you need to be to do what you want to do.

Not for anyone else, but for yourself.

Result: give up your past and reclaim the energy you spend recreating that person each day, and use it to create who you want to become.

4) Give Up Being Original

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” Ayn Rand

In a world of hyper-connectivity, we have hundreds of opportunities each day to compare ourselves to others. We see our friend’s achievements and can’t help but think about how we measure up.

As a creative, we take this one step further and relentlessly compare everything we create with others.

We feel an incessant need to be original.

To create a catchy phrase no one has ever read, or pen an idea no one has ever thought about before. But the truth is, humans have been around for about 6-million years and there aren’t many original ideas left — and there’s no way to prove an idea is original, anyways.

Which is why instead of seeking to be original, it is better to be authentic.

Sometimes, someone else just needs to hear a lesson that has been told a hundred times over, from your unique perspective. Through the lens of your story, from your perspective, in your voice.

Because it’s not about the lesson or how original the idea is you want to share to share.

It’s about if someone out there is able to resonate with you, when you’re being authentically you. That’s all it takes to change someone’s life.

Result: give up comparing yourself to others and trying to be original — it is better to be authentic.

5) Give Up Your Entitlement

Credit: Netlfix — House of Cards
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

Many creatives feel entitled. They are narcissistic. They think that others should prioritize them first and that the world revolves around them. Like the world owes them something and that by virtue of being who they are, they deserve a reward.

Obviously, no one does this on purpose. This complex develops over time. But there is no quicker path to disempowerment than feeling entitled.

So, how do you identify if you are sabotaging your creativity by feeling entitled?

Check your expectations.

If you feel like you are owed a handout, or rely on hope to accomplish anything in life you are feeling entitled.

The truth is, you are entitled to nothing. No one owes you anything. No privilege beyond life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

You are free to rely on yourself. You are free to assume responsibility for as much in your life as you possibly can. And only through this sense of radicalism, will you be able to create your own most desirable outcome and share its fruits with others — if you want to. But never assume that you are entitled to anything.

Give up entitlement and be grateful for what you have. Take control over what you can and let your greatness shine through in those small acts.

Result: give up your entitlement and take responsibility for all aspects of your life — it will dramatically increase how much creative power you have.

6) Give Up Linear Thinking

“We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

The road from point A to point B is almost never a straight line. Our brains are built to piece together information subconsciously, which we could never consciously comprehend.

So, when your goal is to write a book, and you spend your time reading fiction, watching speeches on YouTube, and listening to your favorite albums — it’s easy to be quick to think linearly and judge yourself assuming this is all procrastination.

But the truth is, you’re smarter than you think you are.

Your brain works non-linearly and there is a direct correlation between how creative you are, and how non-linearly you think.

Non-linear thinking can look sporadic at first. And when you set a goal, your brain will generate feelings and desires that will drive you through any number of random activities. But in these activities you will find different sources of learning, inspiration, and stimulation that can, and often do, directly and dramatically impact your progress in your original creative goal.

So, don’t be so critical that when you look back in your psychological rear-view mirror and you don’t see a straight line.

The path you’ve taken is your path for a reason. Use what you’ve learned.

Chances are, if you take the time to reflect and integrate, you have everything you need to get to point B quicker than you think.

Result: give up linear thinking and let the dots connect themselves. Focus and follow your feeling to your destination.

7) Give Up The Bandwagon

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost

There is no right way to live life. There is no moral absolute. But not everybody is lucky enough to be raised in an open-minded enough home to allow for this sort of radical acceptance.

Most of us, fall into the trap of thinking there is a set list of things we can and should do with our lives. Go to school. Play nice. Make friends. Get good grades. Get a good job. Fall in love. Buy a home. Have children. Retire as soon as possible. Try not to linger in any of the transition phases. And cross your fingers that you’re satisfied at the end of the journey.

This type of cultural narrative doesn’t leave much room for things like creativity, travel, or experimentation.

And eventually, anyone who is serious enough about living an extraordinary and creative life realizes they need to hop off the bandwagon and take the road less traveled.

But then what?

There are no signs in this uncharted territory.

You have to get clear on your values and define your own ideal of success and endeavor to create a life as close to that as possible.

You have to use your fears as your compass. Realizing that at the end of the day you’re the one who has to be happy with your choices.

Yes, giving up the bandwagon can be scary, but when you do it can also be tremendously empowering. Like the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once penned, “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

Result: give up the bandwagon, take the road less traveled, lead by example and enjoy the dizziness of freedom.

8) Give Up Thinking Big

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau

Much advice these days tells us to think big — bigger than anyone who has come before us.

The trouble with this is, the bigger the dream, the heavier the pressure we feel, and the denser our resistance is to taking the small actionable steps to create that dream. Because the first step on that journey, always feels bigger in our hearts than it is in reality.

There is no shortage in the world of dreamers who sit still picturing their castle in the sky and never take the first step to building it.

This is why it is important that after you craft your big audacious dream to think and act small. Very small.

This way you can build up a positive momentum, through several small accomplishments, that carries you through the days. Then your daily actions will grow and what you accomplish in a single day will shadow the scope of the big dreams you once had.

So, yes. Dream big. Have visions that stretch the horizon. But think in small chunks and take small actions consistently.

Your castle is built one brick at a time, and if you spend all your time thinking about how big and grand it will be, you may never sit in it.

Result: give up thinking big and instead act small, consistently. You will create a positive momentum that will carry you boldly and swiftly through the days between now and your big dream.

9) Give Up Your Guarantees

“You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.” Bhagavad Gita

There is no guarantee in this life. No sure thing. No guaranteed tomorrow, and no guaranteed win.

Which is why you cannot use a guaranteed return-on-investment as your motivation to create. Because if you do, you risk not creating at all when the day comes (and it will) that you create something and nothing happens in response to it.

You have to give up your guarantees and create for the joy of the process itself, without giving thought to the fruits of your labors.

Honor the process of the creation and publish only as part of the process, expecting nothing to happen after the fact.

Once you do this, you will enjoy creating for the joy of the art itself. And discover that most often it’s something you made months ago that gets you the return-on-investment you were guaranteeing yourself, anyways.

Result: give up your guarantees and create for the joy of the process itself, and when you do your pleasure and output will compound on itself.

Take Back Your Creative Power

All nine of these things have one theme in common: taking back your creative power.

Whether it’s investing less of it in the wrong places, or increasing the amount you have overall to use — the name of the game is generating more creative power and wielding it to create your best life.

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If you want to take back your creative power, radically express yourself and increase your sales with your writing, check out this free chapter of The Renegade Book Marketing Manual—on ‘The State of the Book Publishing Industry and The Truth About Audience Building.”

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