Creativity and You: Lies You Learned


Do you believe it’s too late to learn creativity? How did you lose your creative goals early on? How did that happen? I have some theories. If you’re like the majority of the population, you may have been indoctrinated to downplay creativity. Some of you may have heard statements that have deviated from the truth, either from others or from yourself. They go something like this:

You’re not the creative one in the family. Susie is more creative than you.
You just don’t “got it.”
You could never learn to draw because you don’t have that special “talent.”
I can only draw stick figures.
You can’t make a living as an artist (or a singer, or a potter or _________fill in the blanks)
Creative people are tortured souls.
Creative people have to be a little crazy.
I could never learn.
It’s too hard.
It’s silly to think you can.
You can’t.
You need to focus on serious subjects, like math and reading.

Creativity is just not for me.



Here’s a way to see in action what I’m talking about. Before grown ups interfere with their spontaneity and freedom and joy in the moment, observe that little boy or girl and see how involved they can be, completely absorbed with expressing themselves in whatever activity they are engaged in. They believe they have something very special to do. They put their whole heart, soul, body, and mind to it. They believe they can do it. They don’t doubt they can. Not YET.

“Look Mommy!! Look what I made!!” She bursts out with great pride.

Sadly, for some children, if not most, their exuberance is met with disapproval, or dismissal, or even scolding. Maybe even comparisons to other kids who appear more “gifted.” So he or she will give it up as something they are not good at, something not very important, something to be ashamed of, or something to fear. Yes, fear.

We may be afraid of what could happen if we took the leap into taking our creativity seriously. We may be afraid to make that decision. What will we have to give up???

Even the child that is fed all kinds of approval and encouragement will, the second some ignorant other ridicules, compares, or dismisses his painting, may give up and vow to never do it again. I’ve seen this phenomenon in action with my own students.

She’s right!”, he thinks to himself. ‘I’m not as good as Isabel, or Ricky or Matilda.”
They begin to squelch their creative expression, until soon its given up for other more “important” activities. And that’s when it becomes a big fat “I CAN’T” that will plague them the rest of their lives. For some it’s a crushing blow to their dreams.  That happened to me, and it doesn’t feel good.



WHAT IF YOU BELIEVED THAT  it was rare to have a gift for, hmmm, let’s say, reading? What if in school kids were given lots of reading materials for them to handle and manipulate while the teacher waits to see what happens? If a child asks: How do you read this? The teacher says, “Just be free! Do what pops in your head!! Use your imagination and just enjoy it! Reading should be fun!” The teacher would then sit back and observe which child showed “talent” for reading – the idea being that it’s no use trying to teach because if the child isn’t talented, instruction won’t help.

So, the 1 or 2 or maybe even 3 children in a class of 25 might somehow manage to learn to read. They would be designated as “talented” and then someone would say, “Well, you know, Alex’s grandmother was good at reading. He probably got it from her.” Or “Oh, yes, Susie is good at reading. The family is quite literate, you know. It’s in the genes, I guess.” Meanwhile, the rest of the kids grow up saying of themselves- “I can’t read. I haven’t got any talent for it, and I’m sure I could never learn.” Substitute reading for a new language, or cooking, or anything.


We have become accustomed to thinking of artistic ability as being unteachable, you either ”got it or you don’t.” Moreover, many educators, parents, and students share an unspoken belief that artistic abilities are largely NONESSENTIAL IN OUR MODERN SOCIETY. What gets cut back first? The arts. I would venture to say that that sends the message loud and clear that those kinds of activities are not important.
Many people say, “I have no artistic talent.” Sure enough, as I have seen with my own art students, once they are happily drawing away, they often discount their newly acquired skill by attributing it to something called “hidden talent.”
We assume that a rare or special artistic talent is required for drawing. We don’t make that assumption about other kinds of learned abilities – reading, as mentioned above, or riding a bike, or learning French or German. We call the artists in our midst “naturally talented” people. Who are these people? Just individuals who “catch on” to ways of shifting to brain modes appropriate for certain skills, like drawing or writing. In my case maybe I accidentally stumbled upon a way of seeing that inspired me to learn to draw when I was young. However, as an adult, I lost it for years because I BELIEVED THE LIES THAT I WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH.


One of the passions in my own creative life is to help others rediscover that creative self you once were. D and I are developing ways to guide others online the way we’ve done in our own real-life classes. Creativity can be learned and improved upon. It will take some time, and I am starting by offering a free online creativity course.

I would greatly appreciate your comments and feedback below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you resist the urge and why? How was creativity discouraged in your life?

To your creativity,



 Launching soon: A free course “10 Easy Ways To Be More Creative” by Irene. Jumpstart your own unique creativity. Sign up below and message that you want to give it a try, and I’ll email you the details!

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