Overthinking and Creativity

My daughter shared this article on Facebook and dedicated it to all her 6s.

Apparently research shows that people who tend to be anxious and overthink are more creative. They don’t say than who. People who underthink and are too calm I guess.

I am just enough of a contrarian to be suspicious of this conclusion. (But not so much that I didn’t take a moment to bask self-congratulation.) I am leery of people who say “This is creativity. This is what it is like and what it takes to get it.” I cringe when anyone talks about this or that group being more creative that another group. I have stood, tired and sweaty, over a problem I solved after days of trial and error only to be told I didn’t understand what it was like to be creative. I have had people gush over my creativity when what I had just done seemed dull and mundane to me. I am beginning to think creativity is wild and wooly and way bigger than we usually think.

Having said that, I am interested in the idea that worry is the mother of invention. I like the idea that the constant whirring that is my brain is serving a useful purpose. Sometimes it is, granted. Often it just seems like a wild creature pacing the cage – frantically treading the same worn paths and occasionally gnawing at the bars.

Last year, in an enneagram discussion group I led for 6s, someone said he used his anxiety as rocket fuel. That might be a little extreme, but it makes sense. There is energy in fear and anxiety. Creativity requires energy. Sixes have a choice. We can let that energy send us into a spiral of anxiety, anger and reactivity or we can put it to use.

In a letter of reference, someone once wrote about me: “Beth is detailed-oriented, but can also see the Big Picture. If you want someone to help you create a vision and then figure out how to put it into action, you can’t do better.” It was one of the best things anyone has ever said about me. That’s the six in me. I can feel where that comes from. I need to know where I am going and how I am going to get there and what the road blocks might be and how I will get around them or over them or through them. And every step of that takes creativity.

If you are a six, I would love to know what you think about the article I shared and how you see creativity showing up in your life. If you’re not a six, what the heck, go on and share. Let us know your type and how it effects your creativity.

Want to know more about the enneagram? Check out this post I wrote a few years back.

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