Lately, I’ve noticed more of a predictable pattern around these feelings: Fear usually comes around most strongly when I’m about to cross a new ‘frontier’ and push my comfort zone. It often makes a sneaky entry, and at first looks and feels a lot like excitement and enthusiasm.
Creativity is built into our very human nature. And the desire to create and bring our dreams into reality (however large or small they are) is intrinsically part of what makes us alive. It’s what has fuelled our wider human family to build the world as we know and understand it today. Our creative power is truly exciting!
However in a felt sense, excitement and fear can often be different sides of the same coin.
For myself, once the floodgates of imagination and inspiration have been cast open, I can sometimes find myself overwhelmed with a tidal wave of outlandish and wonderful ideas and possibilities, rushing towards me and out of me. I freeze (and to be honest sometimes freak out) thinking how is this ever going to happen? Is this even possible? My brain has never seen it before and doesn’t know how to make sense of it.
What will this new creation look like? What will I look like once it’s in the world? How will I get there?
The more wild, unique, and inspiring our ideas are, the farther the distance can feel between where we are now and where we want to get to. And the more following our creativity pushes us out of our comfort zone, the more change and growth we undergo as people. That gap is exhilarating. And potentially terrifying.
Cue our old friend, Fear.
Fear has evolved as our brain and body’s way of telling us there is a threat. It has evolved to keep us safe and warns us about potential threats and dangers, like an animal attack or natural disaster. However when it comes to creative pursuits – things we get excited about – fear is usually nudging us not to get too risky. When we get creative we are often entering the unknown. That’s why it’s called creating. Bringing into being what was not there before.
For many, if not all of us, creating something new and pushing our comfort zones can also bring up a fear of failure and judgment. We may begin with a fantastic idea or a seed of an idea that we’re excited about, and immediately our mind tries to prevent us from failure and rejection. Often this manifests as thoughts like:
You can’t do this, what if you don’t succeed, this is too big (or too far-fetched, advanced, skilled, etc.), so-and-so is already so much better at this, what if my idea doesn’t work and people judge me? What if it DOES work and people get jealous or criticize me? Who am I to do this?
Does this sound familiar?
We’ve all been there before in some shape or form. Even those whom we view as the 'best of the best' have played this game at some point or another. And this fear is not a bad thing, necessarily. In fact it’s our mind’s limited way of trying to keep us safe. This serves a very real and valuable function. However it’s just not very useful most of the time, and this inbuilt alarm system isn’t adapted to our present day reality.
So – What to do?
The point isn’t to fight the Fear Voice. Rather, notice it and even thank it for its role. Then reassure that small voice of insecurity that you’ve got this.
It’s going to be just fine.
When we can acknowledge and validate our fear without allowing it to jump into the driver’s seat to steer our Life, we can begin to make friends with our fear. No longer adversaries, enemies, or slaves. Friends. This validation may need to happen again and again. But, when we can see our fear as a well intentioned but not totally relevant or helpful little voice outside of us, rather than mistaking it for our complete story, identity, or truth, we give Excitement a chance to lead us in all sorts of surprising and wonderful directions.
I don’t want to pass off that this is easy (although power to you if you’ve got this!). This process may take time, dedicated effort, and a lot of courage. But I do know that acknowledging our fears, validating them with love, and then re-focusing on what matters most to us, practiced again and again, will shift and soften the voice of fear. You will see changes in how you feel and act.
One of my mentors once told me:
If you’re embarking down a life path that doesn’t scare you at least a little, begin to rethink your path.
Nestled within fear is the knowing that there are boundaries to be pushed, discoveries to be made, creative pursuits worth following with our hearts on fire, and passions that will lead us further and further into the fullness of our own evolution. Embracing our fears is what gives life to Excitement. Excitement is part of creating and being in the world. And embracing our full Being (step by step) means opening to change, unknown, and a whole lot of trust.
Wishing you great success on your many wild creative adventures~