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Reigniting the Creative Spark: Strategies for Overcoming Cynicism and Avoiding Burnout

Updated: Apr 25

As previously discussed in Part 1, cynicism is one of three dimensions of burnout.

Cynicism is often the first dimension to indicate your risk of burnout. Also referred to as depersonalization, cynicism causes you to feel detached from your work, so detached that you may begin to feel numb.

Some psychologists believe that cynicism is a coping mechanism your brain uses to protect you from the overwhelming negative emotions you’re experiencing. As creative cynicism intensifies, you may withdraw from your craft altogether, and in time, you may no longer derive any pleasure from making art.

Creative cynicism can leave you feeling uninspired and out of touch with your craft. For many, art is a way to express your emotions creatively. It is difficult to create when you're cut off from the source of your inspiration (your feelings).


Though you may be suppressing your emotions, they still exist. Emotions aren't meant to be suppressed, so they will continue trying to be expressed, making you feel on edge or irritable. Occasionally, your defenses may even break down, causing sudden outbursts.


Ways to Beat Creative Cynicism


"Tick Tick..." Original by Kiara Chanel

Acknowledge Your Feelings…then Deal with Them

The most important thing you can do when experiencing cynicism is acknowledge your feelings. The key here is to understand your feelings and find ways to cope with them. Acknowledgment does not mean ruminating on problems and creating a cycle of bitterness. It’s also important not to rely on toxic positivity to gaslight yourself into denying that there is an issue at all.


Therapy is always a great option, especially when trying to make sense of your feelings. It’s important to acknowledge that therapy can be time- and cost-prohibitive, but some therapists charge on a sliding scale. Apps like BetterHelp and Talkspace also offer reduced prices and convenient access to therapists. Some apps can help you meditate or take time out for mindfulness. Many find journaling an effective way to vent your thoughts and feelings without having to censor yourself.


Find an Art Community

Sometimes, just knowing someone else has experienced the same thing can be a relief. It can make you feel affirmed and seen. Many art community members have years of experience and are happy to share advice. If possible, try to find a mentor. When people discuss success, mentorship is often left out of the discussion. Many successful people owe a lot to those who mentored them.


Socialize with Your Friends and Family

Socializing with loved ones should differ from how you socialize in an art community. While it’s great to have like-minded people to discuss your work with, it can be refreshing to be around the people who know and love you. You should always feel comfortable sharing things that upset you, but you may want to keep it to a minimum here. This time should be a break from your stressors. You should be enjoying yourself.


The goal here is to fill you up. So, if you’re more of an introvert, this can be a good time to do other non-art things you enjoy.


Establish Boundaries…and Enforce Them

Are you frustrated by the way you're treated? It’s time to set boundaries—the earlier, the better. Setting boundaries upfront makes things less likely to go off the rails later. You also need to get comfortable enforcing boundaries. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make Art for Fun

Making art for money can feel like work...because it is. If you have the time, stop and create something, anything, just for yourself. People use art as therapy for a reason. Allow yourself to have fun without the pressure of wondering if anyone else will like it.


Cynicism can be difficult to identify because it involves ignoring and suppressing negative emotions. The key to genuinely addressing it and avoiding the pain of true burnout is to acknowledge your feelings and develop coping mechanisms. Once you've acknowledged your feelings, self-care can do wonders to turn things around.

Modern society has made it easier than ever for creatives to share and commune with one another. Building a community and staying connected to those who understand your particular struggles is important. Take care of yourselves! See you at Part 3!

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