Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash
Last year, as I brought fear to the conversation with my coach, she read me an extract from a book called Big Magic from Elizabeth Gilbert. And I found it so beautifully written, and actually so helpful to remember each time I feel fear is showing up, that I wanted to share the best parts with you. So, here we go, the chapter is called “the Road Trip”:
“Here’s How I’ve learned to deal with my fear: I made a decision a long time ago that if I want creativity in my life – and I do – then I will have to make space for fear too. Plenty of space. …. Since it appeared that they would always be together. In fact, it seems to me that my fear and my creativity are basically conjoined twins – as evidenced by the fact that creativity cannot take a single step forward without fear marching right alongside it. …. This is why we have to be careful of how we handle our fear – because I’ve noticed that when people try to kill of their fear, they often end up inadvertently murdering their creativity in the process.
So, I don’t try to kill off my fear. …. It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes too. In fact I cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go. I even have a welcoming speech prepared for fear, which I deliver right before embarking upon any new project or big adventure.
It goes something like this:
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently, your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There is plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decision along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of the family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours. … But above all else, my dear all familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
Then we head off together – me and creativity and fear – side by side by side forever, advancing once more into the terrifying but marvelous terrain of unknown outcome.”
Isn’t it beautiful? How often do you start thinking of something you’d like to create in your life, business or career and as soon as you start to envision it, fear shows up and convinces you that maybe you’d better stay where you are because it’s safe and comfortable?
When that happens, I invite you to remember this extract and to not allow fear to drive on your road trip to wherever you want to head off.