I’ve spent years. I mean years. And hundreds of dollars…yes I mean hundred of dollars…trying to kick fear out of the backseat of my car. I’ve breathed deep. I’ve counted to ten. I’ve patiently waited. I’ve stuffed the car so full of items, activities, and commitments. Despite these and many more efforts, fear always seems to be along for the drive. In case it might be a little too long of a journey, fear makes sure to chime in at just about ever turn, fork in the road, and detour. Even GPS does not always silence fear.
So much energy. So much time. So much devotion to this endless pursuit of silencing fear. Even with all these efforts there are more times than I care to admit that fear moves into the front seat and grabs the wheel. Then shame often finds the way into the crowded car. You get the picture.
As I ponder this, I can’t help but think about Einsteins comment “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Hmmm. Years. Dollars. Time. YES, this is insanity.
Then, I started reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. (For obvious reasons you can see why and how the title intrigued me.) She writes a good bit about fear as a constant companion to creativity. She actually MAKES ROOM FOR FEAR! She writes to it and acknowledges fear by its first name and welcomes fear for the “road trip” (25).
Additions to do list:
Spend energy making room for fear. Spend energy preparing for fear to show up.
I’ve actually started to make time to be in conversation with fear. Sometimes simply listening and affirming does wonders. Amazing, my fear responds to a curious question much better than my stern wagging finger. I don’t know about you, but stern finger wagging actually seems to exacerbate fear’s temper tantrums to me. Plus, listening to your fear gives you the chance to decide…and I mean decide and choose…what this fear is all about? Are you in mortal danger? What are the caution signs about? Is this a fear of exploring new territory? Do you need to look at the map a little more closely? Take a stretch and bathroom break? You might choose a different path, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to go on the journey.
And my two cents–find gratitude for fear’s presence. The flip side of acknowledging that fear is the bedfellow of creativity and inspiration is that if you feel fear….chances are creativity and inspiration are there too! If you get that heart pumping, palms sweating, twisting stomach sensation, it could be that you are getting ready to take a risk. Take a leap. Try something new. Attempt something different. Step into more of who your authentic self is. Well, that is certainly a reason for gratitude.