Empaths and Creativity
It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post for Empath Corner. That’s because life has been super busy for me, and I’ve been putting a lot of my spare time and attention to my art and that is what I’m finding I am wanting to write about more these days. However, I realised that the two can actually go together, so today I’m writing about Empaths and Creativity.
INFJ and INFP Personality Types
It’s interesting to note that Empaths and Highly Sensitive People are generally INFJ or INFP personality types and are usually highly creative people! I recall doing the Myers Briggs test when I was working in the corporate world, probably on more than one occasion. From memory, I think I am an INFJ personality type. It’s cool to see that people like Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Jane Goodall, Eleanor Roosevelt, Emily Bronte, Florence Nightingale, Shirley MacLaine, J.K. Rowling, and Brené Brown are (or were) also INFJ’s!
It struck me that the fact we are highly creative people is a good thing, because we can use this to our advantage, to help protect our energy and to cope with today’s world that is so over stimulating and fast paced. Of course as empaths and highly sensitive people, we are over stimulated even more than the average person. The more of us that get off our devices and participating in creative interests that offer us mindfulness and a break from overstimulation, the better.
Here’s what Google tells me: “A creative act such as crafting or art can help focus the mind, and has even been compared to meditation due to its calming effects on the brain and body. Even just gardening or sewing releases dopamine, a natural anti-depressant. Creativity reduces anxiety, depression, and stress… And it can also help you process trauma.”
I know that I have enjoyed creativity my entire life, be it colouring in as a child, decorating my school books, knitting, crocheting, tapestry, long stitch, cross stitch, doing mosaics, photography, drawing, painting, gardening, etc. It’s not just enjoying the end result that is so great, it’s the process that provides a focus and stillness of thoughts that therefore provides us a break from our monkey minds and the problems of the world. I don’t know about you but when I’m being creative I become completely absorbed in what I am doing. That is mindfulness.
It’s interesting to read (at the link provided above for INFJ) that these are popular careers for INFJ’s:
- Religious worker
Not all would suit me I have to say, and that is because this list does not account for the fact I am an empath. Artist – yes I’d love to be. Actor – no I dislike attention on myself and am too self conscious. Entrepreneur – nope I’m a hopeless business person. Religious Worker – not for me. Musician – yes! I have played guitar and piano but aside from some piano lessons as a child, I was mostly self taught and never properly trained in either. I also used to sing. Yes I’ve sung in pubs, clubs, and at parties. Long ago. Counsellor or Psychologist – hmmm well I often seem to draw people to me that offload their problems to me and I do like to listen and help people BUT this would not be a good occupation for me. As an Empath, it would exhaust me. Writer – well I have had a blog for over 10 years so yes I think that would suit me! Teacher – maybe in my younger days? Although after further thought I would be quite open to teaching techniques and things I’ve learnt with my art. Photographer – I love photography but to create as art, not as a service provider to other people.
The popular career paths for an INFP are similar but less: Artist, Counsellor, Graphic Designer, Librarian, Psychologist, Physical Therapist, Social Worker, Writer. I’d have loved Graphic Designer and Librarian on my INFJ list!
So why do Empaths need activities to protect their energy and reduce over stimulation?
Because being around other people, sounds and all the various stimuli and stressors that are out there in the world over stimulates us which results in draining our energy. We need various things to help us to manage this so that we can better function in this world. One way is of course pursuing activities that provide mindfulness – ‘creativity‘.
In addition to creativity we need:
- Alone time
- Time in nature
- Deep, meaningful conversations (can’t stand small talk)
- to limit time with draining people – “energy vampires” (I’ll write on this topic soon)
- to surround ourselves with people who understand us and with whom we feel comfortable being our true selves
- Peace and quiet. We do not like loud noises.
- It’s always nice to receive kindness and empathy rather than always just giving it.
- to learn how to give ourselves freedom from carrying the burdens of others.
- Lots of self compassion, self care, and self love.
- to avoid crowded spaces.
So back to creativity – let’s look at some different types – there’s heaps to choose from!
- Musical Expression
- Creative Journaling
- Cross Stitching
- Flower Arranging
- and heaps more!
Of course you don’t need to be an empath to benefit from participating in creative pursuits. We can ALL benefit from being creative.
What’s your creativity of choice? Maybe there’s two or three creative activities you enjoy? Please share in the comments, and let me know if your favourite way to be creative isn’t listed and I’ll add it in!
Ciao for now,
It’s always so interesting to read these posts Min and to see how it relates to your creative spirit and artistic flair. I did an exercise at a training session on the weekend and came out as a creative/feeling type. It was the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument and was really a fun way to find our leadership styles. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.
Hi Debbie, thank you! How funny that you did a similar exercise over the weekend. I haven’t heard of that one before! If you’ve come out as a creative/feeling type then you’re most likely equivalent to an INFJ or an INFP. I find this stuff very interesting and a great way to understand ourselves and others better.
My husband is an INFJ and he has worked as a writer, church pastor, and now a counsellor – so he ticks the boxes. I don’t see myself as an empath, but I do relate to and require all the extras you listed. Loud, shallow, needy people drain me and I feel like they suck the life and light right out of me. I love deep conversations, peace, authenticity, alone time, and now even a bit of creativity. Mindfulness is playing a much bigger part in my life as I get older. I think it’s such a blessing that we finally get to embrace our true selves and make space for what we need, rather than always putting it second to everyone and everything else.
Hi Leanne, your husband definitely sounds textbook INFJ! I hear you on the kind of people that drain you. Same for me and also same things that I enjoy. I have to admit that those things have changed quite a bit as I’ve aged. I once actually loved parties, clubs, loud music etc! Lol
I wouldn’t identify as an empath but as I have got older, I welcome peace and quiet, time spent alone and in nature. I have had to spend time with people who I have found draining and now try to limit the time I spend in their company. I like gardening and grow flowers for cutting and try to arrange them nicely. I also do a little sewing which I enjoy but I don’t make time to practise. I make time most days to have a walk and make an effort to ‘be in the moment’.
Hi Elizabeth – peace and quiet and time alone and in nature is what I welcome too. I used to be really into gardening but it’s too hot here in Brisbane for it at the moment and I don’t like the more physical aspects of it. Gentle gardening is ok nowadays! lol Generally, a slower and more mindful life is enjoyed these days!
Hello Min. I’ve always said I can’t even draw stick figures, which is true, but I recently bought some multi-media art paper and water color markers and have been doodling, trying to focus on enjoying the process more than worrying about what the final product looks like. I can’t say I have been entirely successful with the shift of focus, but I have enjoyed trying different combinations of colors and shapes.
Hi Christie, that’s fabulous to hear! Doodling is a great way to start and good to just enjoy the process and not worry about any perfect outcome. It’s so much more relaxing that way. Enjoy!
I already think you are teaching us through your learning and more here on the blog. I know I have always had a creative streak but did not really apply it till I had time, with grandkids once semi -retired, and of course, the past 8 years when I found creativity and being in nature helped me heal.
I am an E…not an I, and unsure of the rest but it was missing lots of going out socially and catching up with friends that made me realise I was better being back in Sydney, and I am so glad.
Thanks for linking up your post for this week’s Wednesday’s Words and Pics at Denyse Whelan Blogs. Your presence in the WWandP community is valued. I hope to see you next week! Denyse.
Hi Denyse, I hope so. I hope that my blog adds some value to the world in some small way. I haven’t had time to explore my creative side until this phase of life either (since leaving work). I’ve learnt a lot about myself in recents years. I do think though that I have changed quite a bit as I’ve grown older, though the core of me remains the same. I’m a definite I. I like to be social but spaced out and ideally not large crowds anymore though I can manage for short periods. I love people but I’m drained by them. I’m less drained by people I know well. I’m so glad you’re happy to be back in Sydney! xo
Hi Min, I did the Myers Briggs test a couple of times and I’m an INFJ. It is really quite interesting when you get into it all. I hope you are okay as I know you have a lot going on in your life at the moment. I think I would fall into the Teacher, Counselor, Psychologist category although if I let myself go Actor could be another option. I always have a barrier against admitting I am creative but from your list I see that perhaps I am creative perhaps just not in the ‘normal’ activities we associate with creativity. Take care and thanks for the post. #WWanP
Hi Sue, it doesn’t surprise me that you’re an INFJ as we have many similar qualities (apart from the fact you’re way more sporty and fit than I am!). I agree it’s all very interesting. I’m not doing so great at the moment. The overwhelm and stress of all on my plate is wearing me down. I need a break (mostly a mental and emotional break). SO going away for a few days on Thursday and of course we’ve got the NZ trip to look forward to in May. I’m hoping these two things will help restore me so I’m coping better and nicer to be around! You ARE creative Sue – you write on your blog, you do your podcasts, you do looks of cooking and baking. You are definitely creative! xo
I saw an interesting thing on Empaths (that their childhood had some traumatic figure, someone who put them on edge the whole time and so they are constantly on alert for the ‘damage/threat’ in the room) and if it’s true, I can see whyt the creativity to work thru trauma makes sense. It was in a tedtalk kind of thing so nothing was backed up with any data, so I’m not sure yet what I think of that idea. I do think art and craft activities are good just for the doing, even if the finished product is less than perfect. I look forward to the energy vampire post….
Hi Lydia, wow! I’m not sure what to make of that. I had a wonderful childhood. Mum and Dad had a happy and loving marriage. I had four siblings and very attentive and loving parents. Lots of fun times with cousins and rellies. Lots of friends and fun holidays. After a bit of thought, I think being an empath is just something you’re given, a personality trait. I don’t think it’s caused by a trauma. The energy vampire post will come eventually. I keep getting loads of ideas and then forget them. I need to write them down!