Okay, so let’s talk about fear. And, more importantly, how to overcome fear. “Fortune favors the bold” – I hold true to that. I also hold true to the purpose of this blog, which is to inspire and nurture the human spirit – particularly, the creative’s spirit. I’ve written about fear before, yet sometimes in all of the positive, be strong, own your power stuff, the underside of creative life gets lost. And it may leave you wondering: “well, that’s not my experience, I struggle, I’m scared, you tell me to be bold, but I don’t know how.”
First off, we all struggle. I’m no exception. I wrestle with fear, self-doubt, insecurity. We all do. It’s normal. And, most likely, healthy. It keeps the challenge and the joy of achieving dreams a tangible thing. It reminds us that we’re stretching, growing, expanding, reaching for more. It reinforces the fact that the process of creating – and not the created product – is where the dream is actually lived. It’s in the trenches, muddied down with fear, doubt and the reality that our great big dream is actually a great big dream, where we come face to face with…our greatness.
Greatness scares us more than anything else, it seems. It tempers us from putting ourselves out there in a big way. Keeps us shrinking, contorting ourselves back into confines we’ve outgrown.
I could go on, but no matter how you define fear and the things that scare you, ultimately, it’s what you do about it that counts.
And this is where we struggle. It’s not the words that scare me, but what it means if I am the one that says them. It isn’t the work itself, but what the work means.
What we really wrestle with is our potential. Our beliefs about who we are, our worth, our purpose, our ability to do something that seems (on the side of not having done it yet) so much bigger than we are. We’ve been taught to be small, keep the status quo, stay invisible – because that keeps us safe. But dreams never come true in safety. Dreams come true when we start to believe that we are more powerful and larger than the dream itself.
So what do we do about fear?
There’s no magical wand to poof it away. What fear comes down to is thought. It’s a battle of the mind. And it can only be overcome by identifying what it is that we’re scared of (what feeling we don’t want to feel), untying the knots of thought that lead to fear, then being willing to release them. You can’t will your fear away (not long-term anyway). You have to dig it out, uncover it, let the light of day shine on it and then choose to believe different thoughts than the ones that lead you to fear. It’s work. It takes time. It takes self-reflection.
It also takes being willing to live without fear.
It means being willing to let things be easy. To let yourself be successful. To let yourself shine brightly.
That’s not a popular stance in our society. It’s not popular or well-thought of to have an easy, happy, enjoyable life. It’s not even really acceptable to actually be happy. People enjoy the commiseration of misery, struggle, complaining – why? Because it keeps the belief that life (and art) is hard, should be hard, has to be hard, and thus, we shouldn’t really expect too much from ourselves. Stay small. Stay invisible. Stay safe. No, there’s not much chance of greatness. Try being happy and letting life flow easily and pretty soon people get annoyed with you. Why? Because you’re challenging their status quo. You’re challenging the belief that life doesn’t have to be hard. If you can achieve happiness, then their excuse for not pursuing what lights them up, rubs at their self-awareness. And they take it out on you.
We hold those who “have it all” on a pedestal. There’s a reason for that. A pedestal keeps them out of reach, right? And that means we can take comfort in the distance between us not pursuing our dreams and the obvious fact that they have achieved theirs. This is true dis-empowerment, folks.
No, we have to fight for our dreams. We have to fight our own smallness to let our spirit expand into the greatness it knows is possible for us. No one can fight the battle for us. It’s up to each of us to stake our claim on happiness and own it.
Don’t beat yourself up for the fact that you struggle. As you can see, there are layers upon layers of conditioning that keeps fear alive. Don’t think that you’re alone. Or that those who have walked the path before you have it any easier. The journey to become bigger, to expand, continues at every stage of success. Facing fear is part of it. Claim the blessing of fear, choose to say yes to your dream, to being happy even if those around you aren’t, and think, think, think yourself into faith.
I’ll be right here, fighting the battle alongside you.