Being Nice to Yourself Increases Creativity

Being Nice to Yourself Increases Creativity

Psychology February 06, 2012 / By Darya Zabelina
Being Nice to Yourself Increases Creativity

Treat yourself as you would treat a friend and become more creative.

When you write, draw, play a musical instrument, or brainstorm, are you as accepting of your creations or ideas as you would be of a friend's? Most of us are not. We criticize ourselves, telling ourselves we are not good enough, that we don't have the skill or the talent, or that our ideas are not worth pursuing. Imagine your friend playing a piano - would you criticize your friend for not being exactly perfect and dismiss the attempt as not being worthy? Or would you instead be supportive and encouraging? So what if, just if, we tried to be as nice to ourselves as we would be to our friend. Perhaps this would remove some of the barriers and let our natural talents reveal themselves.

Research shows that this is the case. In our recent research study we (Zabelina & Robinson, 2010) set out to explore whether a self-compassionate attitude would increase people's creativity, especially of those who are chronically self-judgmental. Half of the participants were induced with a self-compassionate mindset prior to performing a creativity task. This was done by having participants write about a negative personal experience from the past, and then listing ways in which others also experience similar events, express understanding, kindness, and concern for the self in a manner similar to the way in which they would sympathize with a friend who had undergone the experience, and view the event in an objective and detached manner. We found that individuals particularly high in self-judgmental attitude benefited from such a self-compassionate mindset, as they consequently produced significantly more original answers than their less self-judgmental counterparts.

So next time you catch yourself dismissing your ideas or creative attempts as not good enough, think about whether you would have the same response to a friend. If the answer is no, simply think how you would treat a friend in a similar situation, and apply that attitude towards your own creative endeavors. It is bound to help you tap into your enormous well of creative potential!

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