Creative hypocrisy. Are you guilty?

Who are you – really?

Even for the most self-confident individual, the act of creativity is a vulnerable act. And when you dare to expose the contents of your soul in such an unguarded manner, you invariably leave yourself wide open to assault and potential harm.

So, instead of experiencing the joy of plunging deeply into the ocean of your untapped potential, the wounds inflicted on your creative self-restrict you to a life splashing around in the shallows. Sure, it is safer, but it lacks any of the exhilaration you truly long for in your art.

Resorting to roleplay

Worse still, it’s actually hypocritical in the truest sense of the word. Let me explain. The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “actor”. Its literal translation is “an interpreter from underneath”, which makes sense when you realise that stage performances by ancient Greek actors were all given from behind masks – each a representation of the character they were playing. The actors interpreted their role from underneath a mask, which was covering up their real identity.

If we’ve received a significant wounding we can often resort to this same type of hypocrisy: we hide our real identity and revert to playing a role from the other side of a mask. Taking our behavioural cues from achievers we admire, we are able to fool a lot of people for a long time, especially if our mask is carefully crafted and our acting skills finely honed. We play out a version of the kind of role we know we should be living, but without us having to become the real thing. We play the part but lack the heart.

Are you living a creative double-life?

The work we produce while living this double-life is also chronically unsatisfying, due to our offerings being filtered through the character mask we’ve adopted rather than being from our truest selves. As a hypocrite, it is easy to create work that is nothing more than a rehash of what is currently popular, socially acceptable or commercially viable, rather than aiming for what is an honest representation of who we actually are. This is a safe approach when it comes to making a living, but is highly ineffectual when charged with building a satisfyingly creative life. Even though the hypocrite’s mask can provide a buffer from the pain of aggressive critique it also insulates us from being able to receive genuine praise – stealing away any opportunity of connecting with those who would love your authentic work.

Could this be why you keep undermining your own creativity?

Isn’t it time to take the mask off?