The relationship between self-worth and creativity


I was feeling glum yesterday. It was lack of sleep. The weather. A general feeling of glumness.

In the glum haze, I felt glum about my writing and all things creative. I do that – turn on myself, and feel negative about what’s going on.

I needed to reset the dial.

Coincidentally, I read an article last night by Jennifer at Enjoy Life For Once about creativity, and how we relate creativity and production to self-worth. Jennifer talks about how someone else’s appreciation of your art often regulates how you feel about yourself.

Brene Brown quote

I relate to this.

If a like drops off my Facebook page, or nobody comments on a post, I suddenly feel like a failure.

It’s not rational.

Nor is it rational to feel hopeless about writing, when, for the first time in 18 months, I have no paid work at the ready.

But I was that kid at school who worked desperately hard for a gold star, and the approval of my teacher. I needed her praise. I needed my parents’ praise. If I didn’t get immediate and positive feedback, I felt like a failure.

Do you relate to this too?

And then, the man I married stepped in to set me right. That is why I married him. He helps me keep perspective.

He made me realise that my logic doesn’t make sense. Facebook likes, blog comments and new work opportunities do not correlate with self-worth. I just need to enjoy what I do for the sake of doing it, and if I don’t enjoy it, then I need to take a break.

We also talked about creativity, and how to kick start it.

Creativity, like anything really, requires attention to propel it into action. You can’t expect creativity to spring from a dry well. You have to dig. You have to apply yourself to your craft, and then, maybe, creativity will flow.

I’ve had trouble, lately, feeling motivated to be creative. I am tired. I’m under-resourced. I am feeding a baby way too many times through the night.

But I don’t want to abandon my craft. I am just going to prioritise. My children’s books are where I really want to put my energy, so they are going to get first dibs. If I have spare reserves, my other writing will get a look in.

So if you don’t hear from me as much here, I am probably exhausted, trying to keep it together. Imagine, I am holding a hot cuppa, talking crazy children’s adventures with my three-year-old.

Is your self-worth wrapped up in what you do, or how people receive what you do?

How do you prioritise, when your energy is sparse?

Image source

Linking with lovely Jess from Essentially Jess for Tuesday.

  • Oh I can completely symapthise with this, and especially yesterday! I associate self worth with what I do and how it is accepted by others, but I am trying to switch that perspective. Sounds like your hubby and my hubby come from the same school of thought – good advice there from him. Good luck with the children’s books, that sounds amazing and may sleep, rest, rejuvenation, creativity and calm find their way to your door x
    Josefa from #teamIBOT

  • Oh definitely! I completely understand. I do expect a lot from myself too and from my work and when it doesn’t yield the results I expect, it does make me feel lesser. Definitely a need to realign my perspectives! All the best with all that’s going on at home – it’s very difficult to juggle everything. I have recently started waking up at5:306am every morning just to get some work in before the school runs so I can spend some time with the kids. Very exhausting but good luck xx

  • Kim

    Sometimes creativity is simply bumglue (sitting down and doing it) – without it you can’t keep creating – it’s the insiration that is the fun bit (the 10% as opposed to the 90% perspiration). keep at it, and it’s actually heartwarming to know that someone else gets a bit glum after a fb drop – happens to me all the time … next time it does i’ll think of you and i’m sure i’l feel better. next time you’re lacking inspiration, or yr tired etc, think of me, i’m there too. we’ll get there 🙂 xx

  • yes my self worth is totally wrapped up in what I do. In fact one of the reasons I blog is because i feel it helps me create some self worth. The validation I feel when I see my page view increase is crazy and reminds me of what an egotistical twit I can be.
    Rest and enjoy your little ones, the words and creativity will flow when you least expect them and generally after you are relax and rested.

    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses lovely

  • Zanni, yet again I feel like we are on the same page. I too get upset if I lose a liker, or if not many people comment on my story. I totally turn negative on myself and whinge to my husband that I’m wasting my time, I’m not talented and people must thing I’m an idiot. My husband, just like yours by the sound of it, is my cheerleader and keeps me going. F@#K everyone else he says. You are doing it for you. This is what this is all about. So, I guess my suggestion to you is to focus on why you decided to blog in the first place. I know you do it as your job, but I imagine you did it for you aswell. I know you are extremely exhausted at the moment, but believe me your writing isn’t suffering at all. Each of your posts captivate me. They are so easy to read and hold my interest to the end. Believe in yourself, Zanni. I do!

  • It is funny ho sometimes we can feel like we are glowing with creativity and then other times … just nothing. I think this is life and the journey we all go through. Exhaustion never helps! But don’t put yourself down and feel any less of a person. At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone. Just learn that that is okay. Sending big hugs x

    • Thanks Tahlia…Learning every day. xx

  • yes, i can definitely relate to this – i try not to let things like page views etc. bother me, mostly because my blog is still really new, but i can already feel myself starting to obsess. thanks for this reminder to take a step back, and god luck with your books!

  • You’re right not to scatter your energies too much at this time. Often focus is the key to success. also persistence is under rated. just chip away a little everyday. i wish you all the best.

  • Hey Znni – I have been going similar patches lately and i reckon focusing on validation only stifles our creativity. i occasionally get posts published on US SITE TIny buddha, and when i do i get a big spike in visits and views (like 500 for the day) and of course views dros off after a couple of days and i feel flat. it’s crazy isn’t it! i think it’s a thin line between enjoying connection through blogging and needing validation. i agree with your approach, step back, focus on your children’s books and then see what else flows.

  • Hey Zanni – I have been going through similar patches lately and i reckon focusing on validation only stifles our creativity. i occasionally get posts published on a BIG US SITE TIny buddha, and when i do i get a big spike in visits and views (like 500 for the day) but of course views drop off after a couple of days and i feel flat. it’s crazy isn’t it! i think it’s a thin line between enjoying connection through blogging and needing validation. i agree with your approach, step back, focus on your children’s books and then see what else flows.

    • Wow, that’s great that you write for Tiny Buddha! Love that site. What a buzz. I had that experience when I had a piece which was freshly pressed – I felt like this was it! But then it waned, and I was flat again. Silly numbers game. 🙂

  • I had a day a bit like this too yesterday Zanni, and it was Boatman that set me right. Thank God for wise husbands who can see our worth right?

    • Totally. Lucky us. x

  • Yep, I feel like this. Often. It’s a great idea to prioritise, even though it can be hard. Take whatever time you need, and I can’t wait to see these children’s books you’re writing. take care of you xx

    • Hopefully you’ll be able to one day Alana – that’s the plan anyway 🙂

  • Sometimes i think all the work i did on my self esteem as a teenager worked too well… I tend to do my artwork as I like it and struggle to deal with it when someone else says they like it and can they buy it… *sigh*
    Great thought invoking post. 🙂 x

  • I can sooooo relate to this lovely and sadly I lack so much in confidence too so I am always my own worst enemy when it comes to inhibiting my own creativity. I put too much thought into what others think at times ad that holds me back. I am now trying to just focus on whatI love, which is clearly where you are at too, Wise move lovely and we will all be here whenever you find the time or feel like saying hello 🙂 xx

  • Oh what a wonderful husband you have there, I am sure my hubby has told me the same thing before. I think the internet really makes numbers seem important and for those who like to have certainty numbers mean a lot. bUT WE DO NEED TO FOCUS ON THE QUALITY OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS AND ENGAGEMENT. evEN IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING CREATIVE ALL THE TIME, JUST SOME OF THE TIME IS STILL GOOD. tRY AND GET SOME TIME OUT, THAT ALWAYS HELPS ME TO BE MORE INSPIRED.

  • Me

    You are right, I think that when we feel overwhelm, the best thing we can do is prioritise what has to be done and then after that, anything that gets done is a bonus.
    I hope that you feel better soon – feeling down in the dumps is not a great place to be.
    Have the best day and take care !

  • I’m learning to care less and less about what other’s think and it’s made me a great deal happier. while likes are nice, they aren’t everything and we shouldn’t let them be the measure of our worth.
    You need some rest and time to yourself to reacquaint yourself with that misplaced creativity.
    i’ve been there too, it passes. X

  • I love this Zanni 🙂 It’s so great to see what happened the next day as well! 🙂
    I am going to try and apply myself more like you say, digging deep to let the creativity find somewhere to go and something to eat up. I notice that when I go out and do something random, like take a bus ride or sit at the pool or do something that perhaps I’m not in the mood to do, often times it leads me to see something that could be an analogy or something to jump-start my creativity for writing. I just need to be present. It’s always good to think about these things 🙂

  • I also take silly things like FB numbers dropping off, silly I know, but I just don’t get it! I’m trying to be more resilient in that, and realising that I don’t need others approval!
    Thanks for your kind words on my post yesterday, am going to take up many of those suggestions Z 🙂

  • Hello Zanni, This is my first visit to your new site, l had found you through links from your previous blog. I am glad to have come and had a look and a read. I think l might become a regular as l can relate to what you have said in the very first post l looked at. I once needed/relied upon the “vocal” appreciation and appraisal of others, from a young child through to an adult.

    With age comes experience and even wisdom (lol… blowing my own trumpet there) What l am saying is we soon learn that those close to us and important to us love and appreciate us ‘ FULL STOP” and while it is real nice to hear words of approval, encouragement and appreciation, we all should know that these people do approve and appreciate us because we are who we are.

    Yes it can be an easy trap for us to fall in to when we feel like we have not done what we set out to do in any given day, week or month, but we need to keep things in perspective that sometimes we try to take on too much, plus we need to remind ourselves that we are all entitled to a break or a lazy day every now and again.

    I prioritise by doing what “must be done” first and foremost, doing what “should be done” and then doing what i would “like to be done” third…… but sometimes the “what should be done” comes behind “what i would like to be done”

    Well that’s my opinion on it all, thanks again

    • Sounds like a very reasonable view! Thank you for taking the time to comment. x