The 15 Barriers To Creativity, Explained

A series of psychological factors that hinder any creative process.

Barriers to creativity

Creativity is understood as the ability to create something new, whether in the form of ideas, objects, art, political ideologies, and a long etcetera.

Creative thinking is something that is generally seen as something positive and a gift for those who have it very developed, however, there are many ways in which it can be impeded.

There are many barriers to creativity, which mean that original ideas never come to light. Below are the 15 most common and some ways that they can be addressed.

The 15 barriers to creativity

There are many ways to obstruct creative thinking or prevent something new from being brought from the world of imagination to the real world, however, the following 15 most common ways to prevent or hinder the creative process from occurring.

1. Lack of time

Like all things in this world, the creative process takes time.

First you have to have a moment of calm in which you can start your mind, then you have to take your time to mold the idea, make your improvements and discard its possible defects and, later, materialize it. For example, if we want to paint a picture, first we will need to think about what we want to do, then, more carefully, we will make a sketch of what we want to paint, in this case, an autumn landscape.

Then we are painting, making the elements of the painting and, while we are painting, we will also have new ideas and improvise some aspects of the painting.

2. Lack of self-esteem

Lack of self-esteem is often the main factor that kills creativity. It may happen that you are very original and have very good ideas, but this is never materialized because it is believed that they are bad ideas .

Whether you have had ideas or not yet, what you have to do is let your imagination flow, waiting for people to judge the ideas for what they are, not by who has made them.

3. Everything is invented

Many people, when trying something new, are discouraged because they conclude that everything is already invented. It is true that there are as many ideas as there are stars in the sky, but this does not mean that none of them can be improved.

Sometimes a small modification can make a big difference between old and new. There is always something that can be reformulated or improved.

4. Fear of failure

Nobody likes to make mistakes, but the truth is that if you don’t try, failure is guaranteed.

Trying to do new and different things is always a risk, since there is no guarantee that people will understand our worldview or that the idea that we originally saw as very innovative will eventually turn out to be somewhat unconvincing.

If we think about it in depth, what risk is there in trying something new and that in the end it doesn’t work? If it works, then great, but if not, we still benefit from learning a valuable lesson that will help us try other options.

A message from this point should be clear: every creative process is risky, because there is some uncertainty. If there were no such uncertainty, that is, the results were already known, what would there be again to offer the world?

5. Perfectionism

We can always improve what we have done, but sometimes trying to make what we have done perfect can spoil a good idea and also waste our time. Perfection is, on many occasions, the enemy of the good.

6. Inability of self-criticism

In the same way that you do not have to be afraid of failure, you must be critical of what you do. Taking for granted that what has been created is undoubtedly good and that others are wrong is a great limit to creativity.

First, because they are not motivated to have new ideas, and second, because they may be defending an idea that is not seen as something creative, either because it has already been done before or because it is simply bad.

The defects of what has been done must be detected and, based on them, reformulated what has been done. This activates the creative process, since we constantly try to improve ourselves, promoting divergent thinking.

7. Rigid rules

The rules are something fundamental for life in society, in addition to serving to comfort us knowing that there is a code of conduct and laws that guarantee us rights and obligations. They generate a safe zone.

However, there are other types of norms, which vary from individual to individual, and which can greatly limit our actions, especially when they are related to the new. They are the rules not given.

Terms of rigid beliefs and automatic behaviors can be defined that, to change them, some effort is necessary. An example of this would be always going to work on the subway, always wearing the same type of clothes, not trying vegan food …

The rules not given can affect all aspects of the person and, although it is not something pathological in itself, it limits a lot to be original. Creativity arises when these unwritten rules are broken.

But breaking them is not so easy, because they are invisible, that is, they are automated behaviors that are done unconsciously. To break them, it is first necessary to consider why to do things as they are being done.

8. Hold on to the first idea that comes up

It often happens that if a good idea is found or it happens that the first thought turned out to be successful, then there is no need to change it and try new things.

It is fine to consider that first idea, but you should not ignore the possible improvements that it requires or other options of doing things that can turn out to be much more beneficial than the original idea.

You should always aspire to more, never stay stuck in the same place, no matter how good the results have been.

9. Difficulty isolating

This barrier of creativity prevents the appearance of lateral thinking, and it could be translated in worldly language with the expression ‘a tree does not let us see the forest’.

Not being able to isolate a specific problem from the rest or from the context in which it has been formulated can be an aspect that hinders the search for new alternatives.

People tend to classify things into categories, giving them an order that, by default, we can hardly change.

If you want to be creative, you should try to separate the elements to be able to give them a new organization or relate them to other aspects that, normally, no relationship would be found.

10. The obvious is the obvious

Normally, people simplify reality and do not ask ourselves certain questions. There are aspects of our day-to-day life that have always been experienced in a specific way, so doubting them is unthinkable.

However, it must be understood that what is understood as the obvious is, in truth, a social construct. Each thing has been assigned a function, but this does not mean that it cannot be given other uses.

Although not questioning the obvious things in life can indicate having a normal and healthy mind with a well-organized thinking style, it can also imply some creative limitation.

For example, an old chair can be seen as something that was used to sit but no longer works, or, with a little imagination, it can be turned into a comfortable and fun swing with a few ropes and a cushion.

If you want to be creative, don’t take things for granted. Everything supports a new function.

11. Difficulty relating remote ideas

Creativity lies in finding previously unseen relationships of two or more concepts. That is why it is very important to understand that two aspects that apparently may seem very unrelated, can be exploited in such a way that they result in a totally transgressive idea.

It is normal that we try to associate two aspects that are closely related at first glance, but an effort must be made and try to go a little further to acquire a more holistic vision of reality.

Going further afield can be a very good way to avoid blockages, since you have a greater number of creative possibilities.

12. Lack of motivation

Lack of motivation and will to carry out something new is a great enemy of creativity. There are people who have a great mind, which is a generator of great ideas but, due to the laziness of those who have it, they never materialize.

In addition, if you are not curious and interested in the world around you, where will the questions come from that will make you question the pre-established reality?

To be creative you must have great conviction, doubt everything and draw your strength from anywhere to offer the world a new way of doing things.

13. Paralysis by analysis

When it comes to being original, it is always advisable to try to see what has been done previously, to see how it can be improved and avoid repeating something that has already been created.

However, sometimes this search becomes too extensive, overwhelming the creative genius and being bombarded with hundreds of ideas, each one more original than the last.

When trying to get things out of them, the mind is blocked by making a great effort to select and analyze it, giving creative paralysis.

The best way to avoid this is to select specific sources of information and forget about the rest. It is true that there will be the risk, unlikely, of being able to repeat an idea already made, however the creative process will begin.

14. Envy

Many people are jealous of those who show different, innovative and clearly creative thinking. Thus, through admittedly toxic behavior, they can make us feel good for having believed that we could be different.

Envy can be very evil, throwing all our most original ideas to the ground. This is why, to avoid it, we must be convinced of our vision of the world and try to materialize it.

15. Consumerism

It may seem somewhat far-fetched, but the truth is that the population’s consumption trends have defined what is understood as a good idea and a bad idea.

This forces companies and their employees to work within certain limits, without allowing themselves to step outside the lines or else you are taking too much risk.

Productivity takes precedence over any factor, which can be a great burden of stress for workers, who find that they do not have the freedom to express themselves. In turn, they are fatigued, which also inhibits creative thinking.

Bibliographic references:

  • Csikszenmihalyi, M. (1998). Creativity. Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. Paidos. Barcelona.
  • De-Bono, E. (1999). Creative thinking. The power of lateral thinking for the creation of new ideas. Mexico. Editorial Paidós Plural.
  • Mitjáns, MA (1995). Creativity, Personality and Education. Havana. Editorial Pueblo y Educación.

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