Anxiety Eats Creativity and Spits It Out Unless …



“Once you know the emotional building blocks of anxiety, you can influence them.” Chip Conley from his article, Mastering The Anxiety Equation: A Remedy for Fearful Times (link included at the end of this blog post)

I googled “anxiety” and up popped a funny meme. A girl in a cape captioned,
“Anxiety Girl … able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound.”

Some days, anxiety is my super power. If I’m not mindful, I make it worse by babbling to the wrong people – ones who are also anxious, but instead of admitting it and relating, they focus on and try to fix me.


They say not-so-wise things like …

  • Let go and let God.
  • Look on the bright side.
  • You have a lot to be grateful for.
  • Things could be worse.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Cheer up.
  • It’s all in your head.

I get it because I’ve said the same sorts of things to keep from looking at how anxious I am.

We minimize others’ anxiety when we’re out of touch with our own. If we weren’t fearful too, we’d listen instead of being impatient, annoyed, and fixated on fixing each other. Like the saying “Hurt people hurt people,” so it is with anxious people. We make each other anxious unless we take a break from fixing, feel what’s going on with us, and relate.

I believe relating, not relaying advice, is how we help each other.

We weren’t put here as projects, but for a purpose. Anxiety keeps us from it. On the other hand, relating gives us a chance at living it.

It’s not that the sayings are wrong; they just aren’t helpful. “Things could be worse.” Yes, always. They could be worse and someone always has it worse, which I was telling my friend Betty when she reminded me, “Pain is pain and yours deserves your attention.”


Turning fear over to God works when we figure out how to do it. Until then, the saying wreaks guilt.

Not being able to cheer up, have a positive attitude and gratitude, and see the brighter side of life are reasons we feel anxious to begin with, so suggesting these as solutions heaps on more anxiety.

“It’s all in your head” isn’t helpful unless someone can tell us how to get it out of our heads. Otherwise, anxiety stifles our minds and hearts, wrecks our bodies, and derails our purposes. This explains why we end up with fibromyalgia instead of final projects, depression instead of creative designs, and anxiety disorders instead of art.

When I stumbled onto T.S. Eliot’s quote, “Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity,” I also found a quote by David Duchovny that expanded on it. Duchovny said, “Anxiety is part of creativity, the need to get something out, the need to be rid of something or to get in touch with something within.”

After thinking about both quotes, I determined this suggestion should top the list, “Get back to work.”

Writing gets me in touch with what I need to get out, what I need to get rid of and what I need to get in touch with. I’d wager your purpose does the same for you. In the opening quote of this blog post, Conley mentions emotional building blocks of anxiety and our influence over them. In a world filled with unknowns, my purpose is a known – a thing I can influence and a thing that helps influence (and diminish) my anxiety.

This reminds me of my artist friend who paints bright and fun folk art. However, during her divorce that I didn’t know she was going through, I walked into her studio and knew instantly something was wrong. Her paintings were intense with dark colors. She painted her pain, which brought her through it and to the other side.


As often as I resist writing, I recognize it as a best friend. More than once, it’s pulled me from the depths of anxiety and helped me face it and overcome it.

When we’re feeling anxious, a safe place to take cover is in our purpose. Do you take refuge in yours?

In This Together,

Mastering The Anxiety Equation: A Remedy for Fearful Times



9 responses »

  1. Great post, Kim!

    I am finding, though, that some of the platitudes are true, and that the pain isn’t really worth considering. Here at what feels like the ends of the earth, where too many things hurt too much to deal with – and tomorrow will be worse – I find that I am truly blessed, because I learned what’s important.

    My dreams never were, but the encouragement I could offer to others, that where I could make a difference.

    My aspirations were a house of cards built on sand, but the dogs I picked up, and to whom I whispered, “You’ll never be scared or lonely again!”, those are my legacy.

    We come into this world with nothing but potential, and the only lasting thing we leave behind is love.

    • Your comment is beautiful, Andrew. ❤ I bet in time I'll come back to this blog post and want to edit it. I'll want to tell my readers that some of those sayings do work. I love that I understand that now. I write what's true for me today, knowing it may not be true tomorrow. Actually, you've helped me through some of your comments to be more flexible and a lot less rigid about what I put into print. To give myself permission to just write for right now.

      Thanks for leaving a legacy for your dogs and your writer friends and, I'm sure, many others. None of us need to feel scared or lonely again!

  2. Kim, once again you have touched on a timely topic for me. As a matter of fact, the sermon I’m delivering next Sunday is tentatively titled “From fear to faith to action.” I’m amazed how the subject of fear and anxiety has cropped up in various ways since I started working on the sermon. I’m basing it on John 20:19-31 in which the apostles are hiding from the Jews and fearing for their lives until Jesus appears to them. Many times, in the midst of fear, I have pictured that scene and it has helped me move forward because, in my mind, there is no way those cowering men could have turned into martyrs without absolute belief in Jesus’ resurrection and eternal life. I don’t think most of us, no matter how much faith we have, will never again be anxious, but I believe we can learn to not let it paralyze us and, as you have pointed out, to stay focused on our purpose and know that God walks beside us. Well, I think I just made some more notes for my sermon–my first. Thanks for continuing to share your journey and giving me some additional perspective on this topic.

    • Mary, how exciting that you’re preaching. This may end up your next calling. I love the sermon notes you made here – all good points especially speaking about paralysis from fear. It stops me in my tracks too often. I always enjoy the perspective you share.

      Good luck on Sunday! I’m sure many will be blessed. ❤

  3. From Facebook (Kim Henson) ~

    Sarah Gerke Van Diest, Delilah Lewis and 11 others


    DrJenine Marie Howry lol my brain might have looked like that a couple nights ago

    Kim Henson Jenine Marie Howry, my brain looks like this most nights. Any suggestions how to untangle it? Oh yeah, get back to work. 🙂 Love you! ❤

    DrJenine Marie Howry Maybe it untangles when we write?

    Kim Henson DrJenine Marie Howry, I love this. It's true. ❤

    Merinda Luse I have handled it so wrong, so many times. Love your take on it.

    Kim Henson Me too, Merinda Luse! More times than I care to think about. I'm happy to know a different way even if I don't always use it. 🙂 Luv ya! ❤

    Linda Saelg Calvanico This is so inspiring! I haven’t read your blog in awhile. Love it! Hope you’re doing well Kim!

    Kim Henson Thanks for reading and commenting, Linda Saelg Calvanico! ❤ I hope you're doing well too. Love you!

    Heather Kopp Great stuff, Kim. Thank you. Hugs.

    Kim Henson Awe, thanks, Heather Kopp! Big compliment from you. 😊 Love you! ❤

    Sara Wise Needed this so much. Great post and really love David’s quote.

    Kim Henson Thanks for your comment, Sara Wise! ❤ I'm a quote fanatic. I loved it too. It helped me realize anxiety serves a purpose and how to put it to use.

    Tammy James Quinn I wish I could find mine. It used to be cleaning. I wish I was more creative. I may have to vaca from Facebook so I can just be still.❤❤❤ I love your posts Kim!

    Kim Henson Awe, thanks, Tammy James Quinn. ❤ At least one of your gifts is encouragement. Think about it. You're uplifting and you spread joy and beauty So, don't dare leave FB. How will we "talk"?

    Kim Henson Tammy James Quinn, have you ever thought about helping women find their style, being a style consultant or personal wardrobe shopper? Something like that …

    Kim Henson Maybe working with Stitch Fix or some online shopping site? Just throwing out ideas because they're popping in my head.

    Tammy James Quinn Great ideas! I may have to poke around that area because that sounds fun. I'll share my contact info with you before I go!

    Kim Henson Tammy James Quinn, I want to hear what you find out and if anything comes of it. I think you'd be great at any of these.

  4. From Facebook (Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter’s page) ~

    April 2 at 9:13pm ·

    Beautiful post by Kim Henson ::

    “As often as I resist writing, I recognize it as a best friend. More than once, it’s pulled me from the depths of anxiety and helped me face it and overcome it.”

    Dawn Bugni and 1 other

    Donna Hornsby OMG! I love this! Thank you for sharing! …I’m learning so much this year!

    Kim Henson Thanks, Donna! 😍

    Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter Kim Henson’s blogging is so good, Donna Hornsby. Glad you saw this.

    Kim Henson Awe, thanks, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, for your comment and for passing this along. ❤

    Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter Several great points in this article, which I sensed was inspired. I love this: "I believe relating, not relaying advice, is how we help each other."

    And also the 'getting back to work' aspect. It can be a combination of 'techniques,' if you will, to unstick ourselves….See More

    Kim Henson Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, I like "unstick ourselves." That may be another blog post. 🙂 Thanks again!

  5. Kim
    Your article is well written and certainly offers some good human advice. Relate don’t lecture.
    Letting Go and Letting God is so important for human happiness. Without it we are left to our own devices (imperfect at best). When anxiety undermines or overwhelms me I turn to Jesus with justified hope that he will work out whatever needs to be done that day. And He does!
    It seems to me your post commences not so much to the anxiety itself but to relationships. It is easier to deal with our own pain than that of others. We should deal with our own anxiety before attempting to understand others.
    Was I anxious? Yes. Until I remembered where to go for help. Did I transfer my anxiety to another person? Sometimes. The sooner my anxiety is relieved the better my relationships.
    I must admit I have used almost all of the sayings listed in your post in one way or another. I did so because they work for me. I must remember I AM NOT THE OTHER and therefore cannot fully understand their anxiety. So listening is the best tactic. Now that is good advice.


  6. From Facebook (Angie Mojica’s page) ~


    Debbie Chirdon tagged Michaela Stephens

    Angie Mojica Kim Henson!! This is wonderful!!

    Kim Henson Awe, thanks so much, Angie Mojica! For reading, commenting, and sharing. ❤

    Angie Mojica Kim Henson 🙂😘

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