Gifted, Talented, Creative, Anxious

“I still have pretty much the same fears I had as a kid. I’m not sure I’d want to give them up; a lot of these insecurities fuel the movies I make.” Steven Spielberg

There can be many flavors of insecurity, self-criticism, stress and anxiety related to being gifted, talented and creative.

Some experiences, such as a degree of perfectionism, may help refine our talents.

Some anxieties – like an overbearing level of perfectionism – can be crippling.

In an interview about his new book Mastering Creative Anxiety, creativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel, PhD comments, “First of all, so much is on the line. For someone who’s self-identified as a writer, painter, composer, scientist, inventor, and so on, [their] identity and ego are wrapped up in how well [they create] – and when what we do matters that much, we naturally get anxious.”

Michele Kane, Ed.D., an Associate Professor and the President of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children, gave a presentation on Stress and Anxiety: Helping Gifted Kids Cope – which also has helpful perspectives for us adults.

She points out that stress is universal and experienced by everyone, and that “Being bright, talented, creative, motivated, smart, ambitious, and even good looking can add to the stress in your life.”

“Academic success and drive aren’t enough to make life manageable. The world is too complicated and intense, and it’s changing too fast.”

She notes “There are no easy answers, simple solutions, or quick fixes for managing stress” but says, “You can learn to understand why your life gets oppressive, depressive, stressed or otherwise unhealthy. You can learn to live in a new and better way.”

Here is more from her presentation:

Sources of Stress for Gifted People

conflict between our values and the values of others (what is and what ought to be)
interpersonal disharmony
lack of intellectual stimulation or challenge
challenges beyond our capability to respond
threats to emotional or physical well-being
lack of resources to accomplish a task
time constraints

setting excessively high standards for ourselves
fear of failure
fear of success
negative self-talk
emotionally loaded/highly evaluative beliefs about ourselves and our environment
believing that everyone should love, respect, and praise us
buying into others’ negative evaluations of us

global concerns (e.g., nuclear disaster, war, poverty, world hunger, the environment, etc.)
anger at fate
need for meaning and purpose

Strategies to Help Gifted Kids with Stress

  • Share resources for meditation and visualization; explain the effect on the body
  • Explain the biology of stress; determine which how the body sends signals
  • Encourage deep breathing and exercise to minimize personal stress
  • Supply biographies of notables that were able to resolve personal situations
  • Promote experiences in nature as a way to self-soothe

For much more, see the PDF of her presentation: Stress and Anxiety: Helping Gifted Kids Cope – and the site of The Gifted Education Cooperative.

More strategies to relieve stress and anxiety

Eric Maisel notes that in his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, he presents “a menu of twenty-two effective anxiety management tools, enough tools that everyone can find at least one or two that will work well.

“The simplest is to remember to breathe; a few deep cleansing breaths can do wonders for reducing anxiety. The most important anxiety management tool is probably cognitive work, where you change the things you say to yourself, turning anxious thoughts into calmer, more productive thoughts.

“And creating a lifestyle that supports calmness is also very important: if the way you live your life produces a lot of anxiety, that’s a tremendous extra burden on your nervous system.”

Some of my related posts:

Creative Anxiety – So Much On The Line

Managing Creative Anxiety: Change Your Thinking

Sensitive to anxiety

Guided Imagery and Emotional Health

More resources

PureCalm is an herbal remedy I use occasionally for anxiety and irritability

Anxiety Relief Solutions site – a variety of non-drug products, programs

Guided imagery and biofeedback program developed by Doctors Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish and Andrew Weil: Relaxing Rhythms Guided Training Program

Article: Creative intellect as a marker for genetic predisposition to high anxiety conditions, By Charles Linden – “Our data shows us that anxiety sufferers all share a superior level of creative intellect.”

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Originally posted 2011-04-29 12:32:42.


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