You’ve heard the push-through-your-fear messages – it’s in all the books and all over our creative spaces. I don’t believe in it. For most of us, trying to power our way through fear does more harm than good.
It’s very simple, really. Fear makes us freeze up, physically, emotionally and creatively. We tighten. And when we tighten, flow is restricted.
And we don’t ever want to restrict flow. Not as creatives, not as lovers, not as human beings.
The pushing might move us forward, but what we create won’t flow. It won’t be juicy and alive and brilliant, and it won’t feel good doing it.
The thing is, I’ve faced fears boldly all my life. I’ve always been a risk-taker, a jump-and-the-net-will-appear kind of girl. I had plenty of what looked like freedom on the outside, but I never felt it on the inside. All I knew was how to push. Relentlessly push and force and demand that I go one step further, always one step further, regardless of the needs of those tender, terrified parts of me. I wouldn’t even acknowledge that they were parts of me.
I was always frightened. Always. Not nervous – terrified. Frozen stiff. In the midst of doing all those things that looked like courage. Exploring new places, people and things, traveling across the world, exciting projects, creative challenges, beautiful lovers. None of it ever felt like freedom.
Not until I stopped pushing through fear. Not until I allowed myself to pause, listen, give myself what I need to feel safe, and then – only then – to move forward again. And OMG, the difference!
True freedom is not about taking risks and trying new things (although it can be that too), it’s about having space inside to listen to myself. It’s about allowing myself to try, to make mistakes, to be imperfect. It’s about knowing and caring for myself, and expressing myself truthfully. It’s about giving myself the space and time I need.
When fear shows up we have three options:
- We can turn around and go back, defeated and deflated.
- We can charge forward, ignoring the fear and toughening up to protect us from that god-awful sense of vulnerability.
- Or, we can pause for a moment, check in with our bodies and find out what we need to feel safe enough to move forward again.
What you need to feel safe enough to move forward will be very specific to you, and it will wary with each and every situation. This is why you have to pause and listen. No cookie-cutter solution will help you here.
You need to learn this language, this rythm of moving and pausing, because fear will be a constant companion on the journey. But it doesn’t have to be such a pain.
Fear is not a roadblock. It’s a roadsign, showing you where your current borders are. It’s an invitation. A point of entry.
You move softly through the fear and into that vast, new landscape. After a while you face another border, and the fear that comes with it. This might feel discouraging at first. Is there no way to be rid of it once and for all?
No. But every time you face it, the zone in which you can move freely grows. You get more and more delicious freedom, and more and more trust in the process that will get you through the next transition, and the next.
As the sweetest possible side effect, you get kindness back in your life. You get compassion and space enough to hold the imperfections of your humanness, and you get to roam these wild landscapes as a whole human being, no longer torn and fragmented by the crazy demands of inner critics or false beliefs about what you should and must and can’t.
All the precious parts of yourself along for the ride. You simply won’t believe the difference it makes.