Last time I wrote “How to Overcome Your Fears?” and it worked for most of us. That was the initial fear, and we learnt how to kill that. Now we are stepping ahead and learn how to conquer fears that we face in creative works.
I have a Pinterest board called ‘simple home’. Another one called ‘minimal + simple’. A third one, called ‘loft living’ is basically photos of beautiful, simple, minimal homes that happen to be lofts.
Sense a theme here? I do. I fantasize about a quiet, calm, peaceful, minimal, simple living environment because it speaks a certain idea to me, an appealing idea.
For a long time I thought that idea was control. The less stuff you have, the less there is to control. The easier to be in control. The less time you have to spend controlling (i.e. cleaning, maintaining). That relationship between simplicity and control is certainly there, but that’s not the core idea that appeals to me.
The core idea is peace.
Why does simplicity, or minimalism, appeal to me? Because it gives me a sense of control.
Why do I want a greater sense of control over myself, my surroundings, and my life? Because a sense of being in control gives me a feeling of security.
Why do I long for security? Because with security – that deep sense of safety – comes peace.
Ahhh. At last, a deep breath out. I can relax. Everything is okay.
It’s the feeling you have at the end of the day when all the kids are tucked into bed and quiet. Ahhh.
It’s the feeling you have when you finish that last project and ship it off and know it’s done well. Ahhh.
Breathe out, breathe in, and feel a weight slip off your shoulders.
What Gives Us Peace?
Does a minimal lifestyle bring peace? Short answer? No.
What brings peace is a sense of safety. It’s security that we want, and there’s more than one way to get it.
Some people pursue more money in order to get security. Some people pursue more stuff, because having extra, being prepared, makes them feel safe. Others (like me) pursue less stuff, because having fewer things to maintain makes them feel more in control, thus, safer.
None of these methods are foolproof. In fact, all of these methods are doomed to fail.
Your Contingency Plan Needs a Contingency Plan
The way these methods work is by giving us a sense of capability, of preparation.
If your fear is not having enough, then having extra will make you feel prepared for whatever comes. You’ve soothed your fear by creating a solution for the potential problem that you are afraid of.
But what if…? always lingers.
What if…. I don’t have enough? What if…. it goes on longer than I’ve planned? What if… the market crashes (again)? What if…. I lose this job, too?
Contingency planning is limited because you simply don’t have the time or ability to plan for all the contingencies.
No matter how well-prepared you are, you cannot prepare for everything.
Security, real security, is not there. It’s not in preparing to handle whatever you fear. Real security only comes with freedom from fear.
How Do We Get Away from Fear?
Yikes. How do we manage that one? Well. I don’t know, really.
I’m a spiritual person, and I have what I believe to be a real, genuine relationship with God… but that doesn’t keep me from fear. I have friends who are atheists, agnostics, dedicated adherents to one religion or another… None of them are free from fear, either.
Freedom from fear does not come with any particular creed or system, or lack thereof.
Freedom from fear only comes when you face that fear.
- You deal with it.
- You handle it; how, you don’t know. Maybe it’s not you. Maybe others step in and help you survive. But you survive.
- You live through it, this fear, and on the other side, you’re still breathing.
- You breathe out, breathe in.
- You feel a weight slip off of your shoulders.
You may carry sadness now, too. Regret. Experience. Loss. Pain. Scars. But the weight that slipped off is the fear, the fear that this thing, this thing you have just survived, this thing would be the end of you.
It isn’t. It wasn’t. It can’t ever be.
Because you are more than what you are afraid of. You are more than whatever the fear takes from you. You are more than the loss. You are more than any humiliation. You are more than a set of regrets, a bad choice, the biggest scar, the greatest grief. You are still breathing, right now, in and out, and you are still awake, aware, alive.
The Fear We Face in Creative Work
Creative work brings its own unique set of fears. We don’t always talk about them. If we do, sometimes it’s just to joke, to make light of the heavy stuff. We don’t know what else to do.
But we are so afraid. At least I am.
I’m afraid that the work I do is meaningless. I’m afraid I have no talent. I’m afraid that no one needs this, no one cares, no one hears.
I’m afraid that the time I spend on this work would be better spent on something else. I’m afraid of trying, afraid of failing, afraid of being laughed at, afraid of messing up, afraid of copying, afraid of doing it wrong, afraid of offending, afraid of not being heard, afraid of not helping, afraid of not listening, afraid of taking over, afraid of my own strength, afraid of my own weakness.
A big bucket of fear, churning around inside, spilling out whenever it’s time to create.
I have different methods for dealing with the fear.
Ignore it. Scream at it. Hide from it. Procrastinate. Distract myself. Shut down so it will shut up.
None of those methods work very well. They’re covers. They are contingency plans. The only way to be free from this fear is to face it. Head on.
Break the Fear Before it Breaks You
Instead of sitting very still, very calm, so the fear doesn’t slosh out of that bucket and into my head, you have to grab that bucket and dump it out. And then live through the icy cold feeling that hits, hard.
Live through it. Survive it.
And realize that you are more than this fear.
Remember everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
You are more than what this fear can do to you or take from you. You are more than your own creativity, more than your own productivity, more than your own work, more than your goals, more than your dreams, more than your pride or your passion.
That is how you break fear wide open. That is how you get free of it.
It’s not about contingency planning. It’s not about hiding. It’s not about dancing around the fear, or putting a pretty mask on it.
It’s just living through it.