Making inferences or making evaluations determines what sorts of feelings we will have. When an event occurs a person has a reaction to the event. She may feel angry and that feeling is accompanied with angry thoughts. Then what the person does with those angry thoughts and feelings—her actions—impacts on results and that in turn affects what she thinks about herself.
Inferences that are evaluative become beliefs. Beliefs are not facts and it is up to us to determine if what we are telling ourselves is a fact or if it is a belief and then chose which we will invest in.
This is part of the cognitive process of establishing beliefs. Beliefs are an essential element to life; we all have beliefs, but it is whether these beliefs help us or hold us back that makes them important. These two types of beliefs can be called serviceable beliefs or unserviceable beliefs. Serviceable beliefs help us to have the perseverance to keep at our creative work. Unserviceable beliefs cause us to abandon a project just before it’s about to come to a successful point and stop us from trying.
Serviceable beliefs are flexible, have a realistic logic, and are based on things you’d like or prefer to have happen. Your sense of worth can be maintained if what you want or your aims aren’t achieved. Serviceable beliefs are supportive and encouraging; they help you move toward your goal. Another thing that serviceable beliefs help with is to assist in the understanding that an action is not automatically equated with the person; you are not a failure if you don’t measure up in one activity. Even if you don’t meet with success in many things, your value is not equated with an arbitrarily set standard of ‘success’ or ‘failure’. You can still be a loved, valued person if you don’t write a best-seller. You may carry some disappointment at not having achieved this but you are still valuable.
Unserviceable beliefs are rigid, unyielding, and dogmatic and are based on superlatives such as: must, have to, got to, need to, always, never. etc. Generally, unserviceable beliefs do not have a foundation in reality and tend to not allow other possibilities. They are overly critical and self-condemning. Unserviceable beliefs are usually stated in the form of a demand, not a request or suggestion. Holding these unserviceable beliefs undermines one’s feelings of worth which can impact our ability to create. A person thinking they are the worst singer in the world would keep them from developing their singing voice. They wouldn’t see any point because this unserviceable belief doesn’t allow for the possibility of improvement or attaining a satisfactory level.
It’s important to know what your own personal beliefs are concerning your creativity and abilities. A helpful tool would be to write down all your beliefs about your creativity, your abilities, and your drawbacks, the good and the bad. Take each belief and look at it carefully. Is it a belief that furthers your activities? Is it a belief that stops you from trying new things or finishing your work? Clarification of your beliefs helps you to identify some things that could be holding you back. Quiet often we are not aware of beliefs; often they exist as vague notions in the back of our mind, but we still affect how we think and what we do. So, clarifying these beliefs can allow you to bring the helpful beliefs to the forefront and look for ways to challenge the unhelpful ones.
Another way of manifesting these beliefs in a negative way are seen in ‘either/or” thinking or “all or nothing” thinking. If we believe that we have to be the best, and if we don’t believe our self to be the best so thereby we are the worst, we are engaging in an unserviceable belief system. If we think we have to complete a novel without any editing each time we sit down to write and don’t achieve that and just give up, then we’re engaging in unserviceable beliefs. These are unreasonable, limiting beliefs, but many people hold them.
However, if we believe that our creative efforts are worthwhile and have value in the mere fact that we’ve done them, we are engaging in a more serviceable belief system. We are engaging in a much more serviceable belief system if we embrace and accept the fact that a major part of creativity is engaging in the process, as well as making the mistakes, the edits and the changes. We a more helpful way is to nurture the belief and fact that we ourselves have value and our work has value, even if it isn’t “perfect”.