Moving Forward with Fear

Earlier this month, a client asked me how to move forward without fear. 

Fear that asks questions like:

What if I fail?
What if they hate it?
What if there’s no response?
What if there is a huge response and I can’t rise to it? 
What if I lose everything?
What if?

Or fear that asks no questions and is silent, immobilizing, paralyzing. Keeping you hidden. Procrastinating. Holding off. Focusing on other things. Stuck.

Either way, it’s a valid question: How do you shake off fear and get moving?

My answer: you don’t.

You can’t shake off fear.

Fear is an essential part of doing the work you are called to do. If you aren’t fearful - at some point in the process - then chances are you’re not digging deep into the spot that will really satisfy. Will scratch that itch that you’re desperate to scratch. Will get to the heart of your work and fulfill. 

Fear is here to stay. 

I have not met anyone for whom the work of creating is not, at some point, deeply terrifying.

And why wouldn’t it be? You’re putting your heart on the line. You’re building something brand new, from your very being. Of course you’re going to want to hide, and not share, and procrastinate, and focus on other things. 

Until you don’t. Until the part of you that wants to create, to connect, to share, to MOVE FORWARD is not interested in the fearful part leading the way any more. 

These two parts of you are part of what it means to be a creative:

Wildly confident - this is the part of you that you tap into when you are in that creative flow state. That knows that what you are making is of real value and worthy of development.

F*cking terrified - this is the part of you that recognizes the depth of your work, the fragility of it all, the soft, vulnerable underbelly of what it means to make something from your core.

Both parts are essential to the process. Both parts are in. 

So, it’s not about always being in one state and never in another. Confident always, fearful never. Or fearful most of the time, confident only occasionally. 

Instead it’s about inviting the side of you that serves to join the conversation at critical moments. 

We cannot remove the fear. But we can send it on vacation or leave it in the waiting room of an interview when it might get in the way of the work we are called to. 

So perhaps, the question my client was really asking was:

How do you call forward your most confident self and tell fear to chill by the water cooler for a bit? 

There are many answers to this, but my very first: 

Personal practices. 

Exercise. Meditation. Conversations with good friends and colleagues. Walking in the woods. Deep breathing. Reading. Sharing your fears with loved ones or journaling them out - being heard. Prayer. Getting into your body.  

Engaging in any activity where you emerge more centered, more full of self, more connected, and therefore, more confident. This is how you move the fear to where it will not stand so firmly in your way. 

We tend to put things that look like “self-care” last on our list of priorities. But if you are in the act of creating on the regular, it is a core part of your job to care for the self that will confidently call forth and move forward your work.

Developing your own personal practice is about getting intimate with your energy. Knowing what fuels you and connects you to confidence and purpose and what leaves you questioning and disconnected. Curate your days, your weeks, your months, your years to cultivate the right kinds of activities at times when you need them most.

What are your personal practices and how do you feel when you do them?