My twenty-year old and thirty-year old self bought into the concept that we should stand down our fears.
I paid hard cash for all the marketing slogans of “Just Do It” and “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “No pain, no gain.” I subscribed to “Never Let Them See You Sweat.” channel.
However, after a few years ripe with fear-facing of my own and several hundreds of clients working through their own fears, I don’t see that denouncing your fears or trying to kick their proverbial ass works. It doesn’t work at all.
What I know now, is that when I say no to something it tends to stick around. Persist. Perseverate. Which is a big word for keeping me up at night. The late night infomercial with my own voice as the annoying announcer with reprimanding remorse that plays over and over in my head….
Now, when I see someone saying they are going to kick cancer’s ass or punch fear in the face, I wince a little.
Whenever I decide to kick to punch something in the face, that thing comes back at me with a vengeance. I cannot tell you the avalanches I have pulled down on me myself as the result of that kind of thinking and behavior.
We all act like if we admit that we have fear, everyone’s going to turn on us and eat us alive. If you are in a predatory environment or are surrounded by narcissists who tend to feed on vulnerability, then this might not be the right read for you today.
But this is what I have learned about fear lately. Fear and creativity come as a combo package -sort of an emotional Buy One Get One Free. One rarely talks to me without the other one showing up. I no longer try to act like I don’t have any fear… I do. I know that my fear sometimes has kept me out of bad situations. I know when I try to crush it, I am trying to crush a real part of me. Yes, my fear can be self-limiting at times but It seem like if I try to stomp on it, it just shows up like a giant tantrum.
Lately I am listening to my fear. It has a story to tell me. And if I am loving and accepting of it, it calms down. I have found simply the act of admitting that I am afraid is helpful. Sometimes I am not even truly afraid, just a bit anxious. There is always a tiny bit of truth in the fear. So listen in.. unless of course your fear is the kind that tells you eating a whole cake in the car is a good idea. Life does exist outside of our comfort zone for sure. And it seems that right around the corner of my fear, is a big creative breakthrough.
PS: Since I learned this technique of listening to the fear and having a conversation with it, I sleep better than I ever have. Might be something to it!