How to stop perfectionism from hindering your creativity

There are certain times in our lives when we might feel mentally or emotionally stuck. It is a feeling of having lost direction or purpose; a time when motivation is low, the flow of creativity has dried up and we need to redefine purpose. There will be many manifestations of this state of mind. For me it is sometimes sitting in front of my computer trying to write but nothing will flow. On other occasions it is a feeling of having little time for myself which leads to stress because I have so many things I must do for others.

When I notice this in others I can give advice but when it happens to me, I struggle to advise or motivate myself.

Athletes talk of being in the zone when they are at peak performance. A minor example of this, with which we can all empathise, is when we have reacted instinctively; perhaps to catch something which was falling and been amazed by the precision of the reflex reactions. Such instinctive reactions do not allow time for thinking which may lead to self-doubt and self-consciousness and fear of the judgement of others. Negative thoughts such as these might cause us to fail.

Sometimes we can put such barriers in the way of self-expression. The thought processes which create the barriers can be; self-doubt, embarrassment, fear of the judgement of others or the burden of responsibility, amongst many other such negative emotions.

These thought processes form what is called self-talk. Self-talk is the constant chatter which occupies the mind. It is the talk which starts daydreams; it is the talk of worry but it can also be the talk of planning. It can be negative or positive. Uncontrolled it can be very destructive; but if it is controlled it is liberating.

The feeling of being stuck should be seen an acknowledgement that you are not making progress, it can have a positive effect if it helps you to realize the sudden awareness of the need to reassert your decisions, or to change direction or to seek help. Many people you interact with, that are presently in this state of mind will initially defend the situation. They will offer excuses as to why they are not making progress or they will tell you who is to blame for their difficulties. Excuses and blame are the self-talk of being stuck.

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The emotion of being stuck is the platform from which your potential can grow and be expressed. It is the urge to express yourself and so it is something to celebrate. Releasing your potential must be about you. It must be congruent with your core values and not just done to please others or seek praise. The starting point must be to have this understanding of yourself, your passions and your core values.

The answer to this state is not to try. When people say they will try it commonly is followed by ‘but’ and an excuse as to why they might not succeed. Trying implies effort of forcing against some obstacle. This is negative chemistry which is not conducive to achievement.

The way to move forward from a state of being blocked and unmotivated is to use self-talk to reaffirm to yourself what you are good at and what you are trying to achieve. Positive self-talk creates the energy to succ


The most important step is to take action. Taking action creates a positive emotion of achievement which clears the fog of inertia.

When I sit in front of a blank screen and cannot find the words to write to express what I have the urge to say. I just start to write. I say to myself that I do not mind if I do not like the way it is written because I will delete the whole paragraph when I edit later. The very act of taking action irrespective of how I feel or how motivated I am, is what it helps me to overcome the block and it enables me to express myself.

Sometimes at the end I may not be 100% happy with what I have written but I just accept it as the best I can do at that particular time.

Pursuing perfection should be a constant pursuit rather than a reason to be stuck because you are unhappy with the output of the moment.

Also published on Medium.