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In a world as fast-evolving as ours, creativity is a skill we cannot do without. And yet, it is this very skill that a lot of us seem to think we lack. Most of us tend to associate creativity with a certain kind of person and are content to be considered among those without it.

Yet all of us are born with an infinite capacity for creativity; look at any child and you’ll know what I’m talking about. But as we grow up, our environment grows more complex, and to cope with these threats our brains form habits and set parameters within which we function almost on auto-pilot. 

In this article we’ll look at some of the things we do that damage our creative capacities the most.

How Creativity Works

According to neuroscience, creativity thrives on ‘divergent thinking’; in simpler terms, the ability to connect seemingly unrelated things. This activity is controlled by neural network activity, which is a combination of three brain networks – the default mode network, the executive control network, and the salience network. The default mode network provides our repository of available ideas. The executive network oversees things like concentration, emotions, and decision making. The salience network identifies what information is important and what is not. These three work together to produce what we call ‘creative thinking’, and the habits mentioned below hinder all three of them.

1. Over-rationalizing

Rational thinking is following the safest and most tried-and-tested pattern again and again to approach problems. Our rational mind is risk-averse and hence apathetic to new ways of making connections. When we start judging every single new idea with our default rational parameters, we stop taking risks and making new connections.

2. The Comfort Zone

This is when we let the default-mode take complete control. We have been doing the same thing for a long time and our brain has fallen into a pattern. We are not letting our salience network present new information or the executive control network weave it with existing ideas. But here we mistake stupor for peace of mind. We are not allowing our brain to perform creative functions, which are an essential part of its job. Getting too comfortable in one place actually numbs the creative part of your brain into inactivity and affects your brain health in the long term.

3. Fear of Failure

Failure is not a pleasant experience at all. It affects our mood and hormones in a very negative way, which is why we tend to avoid scenarios that can lead to failure, and one of those scenarios is risk. But all creative enterprise contains a grain of risk; all new things are a leap into the darkness, however small. If we expend all of our energy avoiding failure, our brain stops generating and connecting new ideas, thus slowly killing off creativity.

4. Information Overload

This is an all too common problem in our time. We have too much information at our fingertips and too little time to properly analyze and digest it. When your brain becomes saturated with too much information, the salience network experiences immense pressure, and fails to perform smoothly. This leads to indecision and overthinking, a sign of hindrance in the executive control network. Taking time off from a work situation is essential so that your brain has time to sort out the various types of info and discard the unimportant ones.

5. Not Sharing Ideas

Creativity thrives on collaboration. Letting other people’s voices into your mind offers fresh perspectives and a more diverse set of information points for the same problem. When you hide your ideas and work without outside input, there is a chance you are missing out on important connections that another person with different life experiences could identify more easily than you.


We are all born creative, and each of us has the necessary components in our brains that make creative thinking possible. Yet it is our very brain that hinders its own growth with  of its fondness for safe habits. This new year, let’s break the cycle of growth-killing habits and unleash our creative potential.

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