Beyond “I’m NOT Creative” – Even Practiced Creative People Have Fear

Philosophizing about internal creativity saboteurs when a creative undertaking is NOT in front of you is a totally different ball game from confronting and navigating that same saboteur when an actual creative opportunity has presented itself.

The reality is we can talk about our fears forever, but unless we put ourselves in fear-inducing creative situations and practice navigating the saboteur voices, we stay stuck. We miss chance after chance to take the next step toward developing saboteur navigation skills we can count on.

The very genuine responses to Unlocked Box’s periodic Sandbox Challenges on Facebook suggest that many of us spent at least some time staring our creativity saboteurs square in the face. Some may have even wondered if they’d ever be able to make the “I’M CREATIVE!” claim for real. 

And this is great. It means we have the chance to take that next step – because:

If you felt any level of fear at all about the Sandbox (or any creative opportunity you’ve had recently), you took a risk.

You opened the door (no matter how far); you moved out of your comfort zone (if only by a step); you allowed yourself to go far enough to put your saboteurs on high alert: 

“Hey, GUYS! She’s about to stick her neck out!

Everyone to your posts! Stop her by whatever means necessary!!!


Even those who contributed a comment – experienced some level of saboteur harassment.

The only difference is how much practice and skill a person has in navigating the saboteur onslaught. The reality is we’re all in the same boat.

And that does sound true, doesn’t it? Yet our human tendency to judge our insides by other people’s outsides means that, at times, we can feel like we’re the only ones who are scared.

So, it can help to know that even though the creativity saboteur singing in the practiced creative person’s ear may not be straight-up saying, “You’re not creative,” it is saying SOMETHING. And to move forward that person still has to navigate the fear. After all, any saboteur voice has the potential to steer us into the rocks, stopping us from taking life-enhancing, game-changing, goal-getting creative chances.

Shifting from panic around creativity (or whatever the emotion is for you) to power (the ability to move forward despite the saboteur) is one of the most important works of our lives. Sleeping within our inherently creative selves are tangible gifts of our creativity. Gifts so magnificent, they’re worth taking the next step. Starting now.

Engaging the Saboteur:

  1. Ask someone you consider highly creative what fears she or he encounters when faced with a creative challenge, idea or project.
  2. Take a look below my sign off for a few of the common saboteur voices practiced creative people hear.

To leveling the playing field,

Susan B.


The limiting beliefs, negative self-talk and internal critic sayings that can run through even the most experienced creative person’s mind:

Sure, I was creative last time, but I got lucky.
Sure, I was creative last time, but I had help.
Everyone liked what I did last time, I can’t risk losing their good opinion of me by trying something new.
Okay. Everyone says I’m great, but I know the truth.

I have to be brilliant – EVERY TIME.
I’ll never be as good as those guys.
They don’t know that it’s easy for me. It doesn’t count if it’s easy.
I’m struggling with this, I’ve lost my spark.
I took lessons. That’s the only reason I’m good.
I better not (do, say, create) THAT! I’ll look (stupid, silly, amateurish).

I should be better than this by now.
My (poem, painting, meal, formula) was rejected. I suck.
If they don’t like my work, they don’t like me.
If I’m successful, I’ll have to do it again – and that’s too much pressure.
It’s not the right time.
I don’t have the (money, time, talent) to pursue my creative dreams.
I’m a phony.
What if I fail?

I’m not creating ENOUGH. Everyone else is so prolific.
Thanks, but I’m not a real (poet, artist, chemist, chef).

So, this list is very incomplete. I SHOULD have researched it more. What are the REAL creatives going to say? They’re going to find out I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING! Maybe I COULD just hit DELETE. 

Susan B.

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