When you read that heading did you actually want to just hit the backspace and get out of here? That's how I feel most of the time when I think of facing my fears. Really most of the time I want to hide my head in the sand like an ostrich! I think often we look at someone else and think to ourselves wow, that person has it all together (this fascinates me, but more on this for another day) without realizing that there are universal fears we all must face as humans.
As a creative here is a list of 5 fears that I face on a daily basis:
1. Fear of failure: To make good art one must make A LOT of bad art in the process. It's difficult to not get stuck in the loop of judging the bad and not giving enough credit to the good! Will I be brave enough to pick myself up and start again?
2. Fear of inadequacy: Will what I create be enough? Am I enough to make meaningful and impactful work?
3. Fear or vulnerability: The fear of exposing my inner thoughts, emotions, or personal experiences through my creative work. Will people judge me? Am I judging myself?
4. Fear of self-doubt: The fear of questioning my own creative abilities, my self-worth, or the value of my creative work. Who do I think I am?
5. Fear of comparison: The fear of comparing oneself to other artists and feeling inadequate or unoriginal.
To overcome some of these I have had to create systems for myself. These include things like:
1. Making sure I have a supportive network of people around me who love and cherish me and my message. When I am full of self-doubt or inadequacy I reach out to one of my friends either to chat through what might be going on for me, or for them to give me some constructive feedback about something I'm creating. Speaking to someone who gets you and can give you perspective is invaluable.
2. Learning to accept constructive feedback or criticism is a point all on its own. It's so important to get to a place where feedback can be seen as constructive and not always a bad thing. In fact, in any creative endeavour, this sort of feedback is necessary! Constructive criticism can provide valuable insights and help you refine your work.
3. Use Mantras. When I really find myself stuck in a fear or self-doubt loop I make a point of creating a mantra which states the exact opposite of the fear. Eg. If I feel like what I have to say isn't valuable, my mantra would be 'What I have to give to the world is meaningful, my voice is valuable and deserves to be heard'.
It's important to know that just thinking positive isn't going to change the big things in life, as you need to focus on doing the actual work to face the fear and to look at what is behind it, but my mind can run wild at times and I find being able to focus on a mantra extremely helpful to shift those negative stuck thoughts.
4. Embrace uncertainty and take risks: Embrace the unknown and step out of your comfort zone. I push myself to explore new techniques or materials. I find that embracing uncertainty can lead to exciting discoveries and that's where the most creative work happens.
5. Lastly remember to do things that regulate your nervous system if you find yourself in a fear, failure or self doubt loop. Overcoming fears is a gradual process, and it's important to be patient and kind to yourself along the way.
The ways I regulate my nervous system are: I get into nature, speak to a friend, do a short meditation, get on my mat and do 15 minutes of yoga, focus on my breathing, or have a nap! (Mostly it’s this last point. I love napping to reset!)
Which of these fears resonate with you the most? I feel them all in different ways literally every day!
Pushing through fear and self-doubt is so invigorating. To realize you're still ok in the end, even if the art is bad, if the dish you made could be better, tomorrow is another day, life is a cycle and each fear you overcome will teach you something.
I hope that reading this makes you feel a little less alone in your journey of creativity. I truly believe we are all artists, and that if we can get over the conditioning that we have learnt and embrace the unknown we can live truly magical lives.
Don’t be shy to reach out if this resonates with you. I love creating community and hearing from you!