The Utter Selfishness Of Not Creating

image: ~Zoe~

Taking time out to create, to make art just for you, to indulge in such an insular venture, is seen by many of us as very selfish.

This then leads to feelings of guilt, and after much wrestling and struggling, it usually ends up in us creating far less than we want to, deep down. Or worse, we end up not creating anything at all.

You’re hiding your talents from the world.

But at least you’re not being selfish hey?

This makes absolutely no sense.

So what if we turn this view of creating being a selfish act around?

What if instead we believed it that by NOT creating we were being selfish?

When we create, we each give something unique to the world. No-one else can create like you can, no-one else has the same combination of talent, experience, heart, passion, ambition and ideas. You’re one of a kind.

What this means is you have the responsibility to bring that creative uniqueness to the world around you, because no-one else can do it like you.

This works on two different levels, and both are equally important.

One: The actual art you create.

By art I don’t just mean the paintings, poems and photographs. I mean everything you create, including the meals, the clothing, the social events, the groups, the relationships. Everything you do is art.

People come in contact with what you’ve created, and are touched, excited, enlightened, inspired, and otherwise moved. By the stuff you’ve created.

You have an ongoing, expanding audience that appreciate you. Don’t be selfish and hide or suppress your creativity, you’d be letting them, and yourself, down.

Two: The way you show up and create.

Again this can be in many more ways that just traditional recognised forms like paintings and poems. When other people see that time after time you’re stepping up and being an artist, giving voice and form to your creative ideas and being, they can’t help but be inspired.

It’s like a kind of unspoken permission you give them. That shy little voice inside them that whispers “Um, is it ok if I actually create stuff please, because I kinda really want to?” gets a huge, confident “Yes of course it’s ok to create! It’s a good thing!” simply by your actions.

If you reach three other people, then they do the same, and they the same, very soon your little creative ripples become tidal waves.  It would be plain selfish NOT to give the people the opportunity to be more creative because of the way the see you’re creating out loud yourself.

Here’s a further angle to think on, if you’re still having doubts.

What would the world be like if all the doctors were too selfish to give their talents to healing people and saving lives?

What if all the teachers packed up and went home, refusing to teach anymore and positively affect the lives of millions because they thought it was too selfish to pursue a career they loved?

What if all the community and charity volunteers the world over decided not give their time and talents anymore because they actually felt good about helping others, and hey doing something that makes you feel good is just selfish, right?

NOT creating is utterly selfish.

And I know you’re not a selfish person.

There’s only one way the next line is going to read: Go, create and inspire, it’s your privilege, it’s your duty. Nothing less.

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12 thoughts on “The Utter Selfishness Of Not Creating”

  1. I loved this! By not creating, we’re being selfish. It’s so simple and yet so powerful and true.

    As adults, we all have something valuable to offer the world and if we’re not giving back something that the world has given us, then we’re being selfish. Your closing bit about doctors and teachers really proved the point!

    We should all strive to be teachers and creators, even if we’re unsure what we should be teaching or creating — we can at least share the experience of figuring that out!

    By the way, thank you for the link love. 🙂


  2. Hi Raam, thanks for your thoughts.

    I like what you say about sharing the experience of figuring it out. That is something that’s wonderful about the internet, blogs and social media like Twitter.

    Whereas before we only ever saw an artist’s carefully honed finished “product”, we can now see other people’s evolution along the way, and realise that no-one gives birth to perfect art.

    For me personally it gives me great encouragement to get my own stuff going and out there, then tweak and improve it as I go, with the input of others, because I see that’s what works for other people. They lead the way, it shows me it’s ok to do that.

    The whole myth of creating perfect work is busted open, and that only comes because people are unselfish enough to share their creative process along the way.


  3. Incredible post. Well done.

    My only sticking point…. selfishness vs self-centeredness….

    Sometimes I do not create, because I have become self-centered. Still selfish?



    1. Thanks for your comments Evan.

      Can you expand on what you mean by self-centred in this case? Do you mean lost in self analysis or navel gazing rather than creating?


  4. Growing up, It was drummed into me that ‘real work’ and chores must come first before any “fun” activity like drawing or writing. My mother equated art or creativity with eating a candy bar, or watching TV. It also sent the message that I wasn’t talented enough to place importance on my creativity. Ooh. Bad messages to send.

    I wrestle with these “ingrained” beliefs every day. But if I give in to them, no art would ever be created because there’s always something that needs cleaning, repairing or organizing!


  5. Diane, I was thinking about this today, and will write an article on it soon, how we still act on beliefs we first took on board years or decades ago, ones that still influence (and limit) our life every day today.

    An analogy – Even if you had the most up to date cutting edge computer, if you were trying to run it on software from 1997 it’d be incredibly slow and clumsy and couldn’t perform anywhere near its full potential.

    Substitute “software” for the beliefs we’ve each been programmed with, and you get the same limiting effect, and the same underperformance.

    Thanks for your comments.


  6. I love that analogy, Dan, equating software with beliefs that were programmed into us. I’m looking forward to your article on the influences of old beliefs in the near future.

    Though intellectually we recognize negative beliefs as being detrimental, the emotional anchor keeps us from moving forward, believing there is a kernel of truth in them.

    Creating new, positive belief patterns would help break away from those old negative beliefs and give them less importance, allowing us to move forward and create freely without all that old baggage. Now, if only that were easy to do 😉


  7. Diane –

    “Though intellectually we recognize negative beliefs as being detrimental” – I think we do, in principle, and in general, but when it’s our OWN beliefs they are so much harder to see. That recognition, or acknowledgment, like with so many things, is the essential first step to moving on, or growing.

    Article coming soon! 🙂


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