And in the end… Signs 19,20,21 of the 21 Signs you are a Highly Sensitive Creative Person
Visit highlysensitiverefuge.com , 21 Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person, author Jenn Granneman Dec. 12 2019 .
Note that the original un-numerated list is from the book The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aaron Phd, 2013
The following is just my opinion…
The last three signs:
19. You’re conscientious
20. You’re deeply moved by beauty
21. You’re extremely perceptive.
That’s it. I honestly don’t know why the list was ordered in this way, except that it roughly followed Elaine Aaron’s list in the forward of her book, which was a quick quiz to inform and lead in the reader, not really a test. But we have been faithful.
19. You’re conscientious.
“At work and in school, you try hard not to make mistakes. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re perfect — nobody is! — but you’re always giving things your best effort.”
‘Conscientiousness’, a gift and a burden. Much like all the other attributes of being Highly Sensitive.
Why do we try so hard? Because rejection and criticism hurt. Because we are empathetic.
Being conscientious means we care, we try hard, we give an earnest effort all the time. But this leads to resentment (for not being suitably rewarded), to perfectionism (which slows us down creatively), and to fears of disappointing our customers / audience. And the criticism that might bring.
In contrast, for example, Picasso of course didn’t give a shit about any of that stuff. He believed his work was brilliant regardless of whether he stole the idea, dashed it off in an afternoon, or spent a month making prints of his etchings. And it was worth whatever he could get people to pay. Which as the years went on, was a lot.
Conscientiousness makes the HS Creative vulnerable. Vulnerable to intimidation and manipulation. To being taken advantage of, even exploited. To being out hustled by the bullies of the world who don’t care what rules they break or ‘toes they step on’.
Sadly, the aggressive non-caring don’t always ‘get their comeuppance’, and the meek don’t inherit anything, let alone the earth. As this latest experiment in human evolution plays out, with our ridiculous overpopulation and the ecosphere heading down the toilet, I am inclined to believe what the late Michelle McNamara said: “It’s chaos; be kind.”
Learn about yourself, and learn how to navigate through life. Do the best you can with your gifts.
Note: You don’t have to make rainbows and knit puppy dogs. Just follow your creativity, your muse.
Financial success can be difficult to realize, however, and it does not help that the HS Creative gets a great sense of fulfillment helping others, volunteering, even giving away their skills or art. Yes it feels great to give away your time and creative work, it’s a win-win after all, an end run around conflict and criticism. But rarely are Creatives truly reciprocated. Sure, you’re known as a good guy in the community, and its great for the ego, and you should do this to a degree. But giving away your time and talent does not translate into sales. There’s little if any quid pro quo. We need people to part with their cash.
Perfectionism is also a result of this sensitivity and conscientiousness. We want to deliver good work, work that is both beyond criticism (which hurts!) and has value to our customers or employers. The problem with trying to be perfect is either it costs more (work, time, effort, materials) than it is worth (in the current market), or the work is no better, or even worse, for all that extra effort, (over worked, overly complicated). So perfectionism can definitely become self-defeating.
Then, when a work is finished and ready to sell the Creative will feel exposed. The work will be tested in the greater world. The protection the Creative felt through their conscientious effort may prove to be an illusion, so not only does criticism hurt directly, but an ill received or ignored work raises doubts about the value of the Creative’s core abilities. It is often easier simply to not try to sell your work. Show it, sure, to friends and acquaintances.
We try to be honest because the conflict that comes with lying and deceiving is usually much worse (for us) than whatever benefit the lie or deception was supposed to deliver.
This is why criticism is so wounding to the HSP Creative. You’ve just given your best effort. This is the best you could do, in that moment, with the energy and opportunity you had, probably in a hostile environment beyond your control. And you often do this faced with adversity others do not have to face. This makes any criticism virtually unwarranted.
Does this mean your work is above discussion or analysis? Of course not.
Analysis: “A detailed examination of the elements or structure of something.”
Criticism: “The expressions of disapproval and the judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.”
See the difference? Criticism inherently attacks the Creative person. Analysis seeks to reach a mutual understanding of, and agreement on, the facts. Truth.
In criticism the Critic doesn’t direct their “expression of disapproval” at the artwork, that’s ridiculous. The artwork is just a thing, like a rock or a bathtub. It doesn’t hear or care. The person who made the artistic work is the target. Disapproval then followed by judgment, which is a conflict of values, asserting the Critic’s values are right and the Creative’s values are wrong. Note: conflict.
Does this seem exaggerated? It’s not.
For the Highly Sensitive Creative the only antidote when a fear of criticism stops you from being productive and shipping your work, is the joy of doing the work itself.
Apply that honest effort every day. Artist Jose Trujillo says, Don’t paint for any reason except the act itself. Paint for the craft; use your vision and skill to create ‘in the moment’, and nothing else. Steve Pressfield says he writes, even if he knows it might be crap, because it is the act of regular work that calls the Muse to your aid. Picasso said, “When I enter the studio, I leave my body at the door the way the Moslems leave their shoes when they enter the mosque, and I only allow my spirit to go in there and paint.”
Then, once you have done your very best and can make no improvements, you must turn the work over to the business part of your life, so you can get on with the next project.
But what if the painting, story, screenplay, novel, sculpture doesn’t sell? What if no one likes it?
Ah. That has nothing to do with you! At that point the thing you created is now in the business realm of your life. It has to do with marketing. At this point, there’s no discussion with the Artist. It’s just business.
The very successful emotional abstractionist Swarez says that half of what he creates he scraps, and he always has a several dozen unsold pieces on hand. The very unique figurative artist Rafi Perez says he has about four hundred pieces (after a decade or so) that haven’t sold. Colour Field painter Jack Bush left so much unsold art in their basement his widow was still selling them decades later.
Most writers have at least a novel or two, or three, or have half a dozen spec screenplays (in various stages of completion) that no one wants. A novel or screenplay take at least six months of work to get good enough to try to sell!
If the market returns the message, “No thank you,” over and over, and your marketing plan is just not working, then you have business decisions to make, even if you make artistic changes. Have a meeting with yourself, the Creative part and the Business part, and decide how to proceed. Look for new markets? Shelve the work for later? Branch out, diversify to earn other income (hopefully with your talents)? Change focus and try something new? Partner with other like-minded artists?
When times got tough even Rembrandt took in regular students to his atelier.
The other reality is that, as Steve Pressfield writes, the big pay day may never come. But you keep creating anyway. Why? Because that is your purpose.
“If you’re a real painter, you’ll paint because you can’t live without painting. You’ll paint till you die.”
Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera in Frida (2002)
That’s how it works. As a Highly Sensitive Creative, you’re purpose in this life is to use your unique gifts and hard honed talents to make, to create, to bring something new into the world that others cannot.
Do your job, learn to be a business person for your talent, and then find a way to get your product seen, heard, felt or read. Ship and move on.
Yes yes, this is the hard part. Keep trying my friends.
20. You’re deeply moved by beauty.
The finer things. Smells, tastes, touch; nature, artwork, music, fine clothing, even beds and sheets have a ‘deep impact’. You notice and feel nature more; architecture speaks to you. Well designed things, from cars to jewelry to tools to fabric to furniture impress you.
“You don’t understand how other people aren’t as moved by beauty as you are.”
What can I say? Icing on the cake! Of life. Life-cake.
We are fortunate. If there is only one life, the Highly Sensitive Creative has more of it.
Human societies are fascinating and terrifying at the same time. Nature is entrancing and dangerous. The Cosmos is a deep and wonderful mystery.
If anything, there is too much subject matter to deal with.
You may find the human body endlessly fascinating, and the female body absolutely spellbinding (depending on your orientation). If you are drawn to the natural world, everything from the microscopic to wide vistas demand your attention. More than you can see in a lifetime. If history and psychology fascinate you, the human drama is a well that will never run dry.
Sometimes it is difficult to know what to do with all this awareness.
Find the joy in life. Find your Muse. Find what you were born to create.
That which you can’t get out of your head. Paint that.
Are you afraid of something? That’s where to look. Write about that. Go there.
Novelist David Helwig once told me his novel just wasn’t going anywhere, and then he thought about the child awake in the bedroom hearing his parents drunkenly argue and said he thought, “I can’t go there!” (in a novel about sex and ambition), and then realized, that’s exactly where the story has to go.
This is what the Highly Sensitive Creative has to do, find that inspiration that challenges and excite, that will engage us throughout the entire project.
21. You’re perceptive.
“Because you notice things that others miss, you’re seen as perceptive and insightful.”
Noticeably even as a child.
Since we are born this way, we’ve been highly sensitive since birth, so naturally as a child you could be observed with unique insight and perception.
And since we are born this way, we grow this way. Our heightened sensitivity shapes the development of our brains. We are born different and as such we develop differently. Our perceptivity, insight, aversion to violence and cruelty, creativity, sensitivity to criticism, conscientiousness…all of that…all mean we grow into adults who are distinctly different.
Being Highly Sensitive, as I’ve pointed out, isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. This means we grow up facing a unique group of challenges as well as benefits.
If we are Highly Sensitive Creatives we might be more compassionate and have more insight, but that doesn’t automatically mean our work is all preachy.
You can be dark and dangerous, irritating and disruptive. Challenging. You can be very serious and socially oriented, or you can be all about joy and fun, about awareness and change.
You might be a Trickster.
Tricksters exist in every culture. Are you secretly a Trickster?
The trickster “exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge”, and to non-creative, non-highly sensitive people, what you know, how you think and how highly you perceive appears like having secret knowledge.
Not too many Tricksters around these days. More common today is the modern equivalent of Court Jester.
Not a clown, but a clever, insightful, provocative truth teller, coached in irony and humor. Stand up comedian. Children’s book writer. Some are ‘political analysts’, some social commentators and ‘columnists’. Others are just people at work who ‘find the funny’ and point out the ironies in life.
How your life evolves depends on you. If you identify with most of the 21 Signs I’ve blogged about, if you read Elaine N. Aaron’s The Highly Sensitive Person and you identify as a highly sensitive creative person, then you have a gift.
So what, say others? Just how unique are you, as an HSP or HSP-Creative? I’ll post about that next. I’ve got numbers.
I believe that if you really give yourself to your work, create as honestly and as well as you can, grow as a person and work to perfect your skills, your creations will make the human world a better place.
Yeah, I’ll go with that.