Fears are a natural part of the creative process. All multi-talented people experience fear, anxiety, worry and resistance at some point. After you’ve identified the true nature of your fears and resistance (see Part One of this series), you can then use proven techniques to manage and reduce them. Parts 2 & 3 of this series will cover how to overcome fear and how to manage creative fears.
Approach # 1: Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway
Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. has made a career out of helping people overcome fears by taking action. In her many, terrific books are numerous, helpful tools to manage and reduce fear. In a nutshell, she says EVERYONE is afraid, so it’s no biggie that you are. Your fear will grow until you take action. So…'feel the fear and do it anyway’. ANY action will reduce your anxiety. It’s better to do something/anything than wallow in helplessness. Her recommended mantra: “whatever happens, I’ll handle it”.
Think of it: Stage fright dissolves during the first few minutes of a performance. Applying gesso to canvas is considerably more pleasant than rending your garments because you’re afraid your next painting won’t be good enough. Jotting down dreck feels better than sitting there, paralyzed by writers’ block.
Approach #2: Use Logic
Sometimes, it’s possible to overcome fear or anxiety by arguing ourselves out of it. Here are some activities to try:
* Dispute unhelpful, fear-producing thoughts. If your fear is “I’m too old to make it as a sousaphone player”, contest it. Generate as much evidence to the contrary as you can. (e.g. I know several successful sousaphone players who recorded their first CD when they were decades older than me. Age doesn’t matter. I’m a better player now than I was ten years ago. It’s only too late if I give up now).
* Take a moment to write down a list of your past successes. If you can do these things, is it not possible that you can do this thing that’s causing you fear or anxiety?
* Identify your specific fear (e.g. My screenplay won’t sell). Now write down the belief you would prefer to have occupying your thoughts (e.g. I am becoming a successful screenwriter). Now, write down everything you can think of to support this preferred belief (e.g. I’m a good writer; I’ve placed well in the contests; I’ve received praised from these professionals; I know I’m better than the folks who wrote this weekend’s awful teenaged horror flick – if they got their script made, so can I). Make a strong case for any belief that will support you in your endeavor.
* From creativity guru Julia Cameron: Who are you to say the gifts you were given aren’t good enough? Barbra Streisand stopped performing for years because she was afraid she’d forget the lyrics she was singing. She deprived the world of decades of beautiful music because of her fear. What gifts is your anxiety keeping from the world?
*Remind yourself that everyone feels fear. If folks like Andrea Bocelli, Barbra Streisand, Sir Laurence Olivier, Kim Basinger and Carly Simon can succeed despite experiencing major stage fright, so can you.
* From Tony Robbins: Write down 10 “impossible” things you’re already accomplished acquired or become. Now consider the task that’s causing you anxiety. How can you accomplish it, anyway?
* Try a reality check: What’s your criteria for success? How realistic is it? Have you set the bar so high, you are dooming yourself to failure? For example, if your objective is to be an Academy Award winning editor, you may find yourself disappointed with anything less. What if, rather than an end state or product, you defined success as ‘making progress every day for a month’? But perhaps you think that if you make winning ‘too easy’, you won’t try as hard. Think again: Being on target with your ‘daily progress’ translates into feelings of accomplishment which induce you to accomplish more while actually enjoying the experience – rather that fretting and berating yourself over unrealistic expectations.
Approach #3: Feel something/anything other than fear
Fear can be paralyzing, depressing, debilitating and otherwise awful. Dwelling on the negative doesn’t help. The longer you stay in fear, the more damage you’re doing. It is critical to move from fear to any other emotion. ANY other emotion – even anger or jealousy -- is more likely to trigger action and any action is likely to spark more positive emotions.
Regardless of your feelings about the more woo-woo aspects of the ‘Abraham Hicks’ /Law of Attraction philosophy, in their books Esther & Jerry Hicks provide concrete, practical techniques to move from fear to other, more positive emotions. For example, you can write down your fear, then seek any statement that feels better. Jot down any other way to look at the situation until you generate a sentence that feels more positive than your fear statement. For example, “I’m afraid the producer won’t hire me” holds you in a victim mentality whereas “I’m jealous that Inga just got a great gig” or “I’m steamed I still have to shop my work like this” are better thoughts on which to dwell because they are more likely to lead you to ponder “So, what am I going to do about this?”
1. Identify your top fear at this moment.
2. Try at least one of ‘Use Logic’ activities.
3. Turn to Part Three of this series to examine seven other approaches to overcome fear and anxiety.
(c) Liisa Kyle, Ph.D.
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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The Da Vinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/.
Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. is the go-to coach for smart, creative people who want to overcome challenges, get organized, get things done and get more out of life (www.CoachingForCreativePeople.com).
Liisa Kyle is also an internationally published writer/editor/photographer as well as author of books including "YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE: A Workbook to Become the Person You Want to Be" Available here: http://bit.ly/ChangeYourLifeWorkbook).
If you are a creative person with too many ideas and too much to do, check out her other helpful articles here: www.DavinciDilemma.com