Dancing with Fear: Five Tips to Defeat the Fear Monster

If we are doing important work, we are dancing with fear. We say that it’s ‘hard’ to share our work, that’s it’s ‘hard’ to start. But it isn’t hard, it’s just scary. .

Dean Wesley Smith talks eloquently about fears, about writing myths, and about how to take control of your own mind to eliminate the critical voice, which is the voice of fear. He suggests that we leave it trembling in the corner of our minds.

We tell stories all the time. It’s the heart of gossip, of news, of families passing on their history. Story is history itself. And even the driest science is told through a story of what happened or what will happen. We are deeply embedded in story. It’s as natural as breathing for humans. And yet, when it comes time to put our stories on paper, something comes between us and the page and that something is often fear

It is not just creative work that requires breathless daring. Just about anything worth doing demands it. In a few days I will load all my household goods on a truck and move them to our new house in New Mexico. If there are no glitches, by the end of the month our house will belong to someone else and Steve and I will go hand in hand into the unknown. It is exhilarating, but nerve-wracking at the same time.

Very soon one of my friends travels to Scandinavia to study Vikings on a Fulbright. It is a brilliant opportunity, but I am sure that he feels some fear at the potential for things to go wrong. He isn’t giving into fear. So he will have the opportunity to do brilliant work. It’s exciting, which is the flip side of fear.

Nothing great comes to us without some fear along the edges. If we can dance with fear, we create our best lives.

Here are five tips for dealing with fear pulled from mentors I trust:

  1. Don’t feed it. If you have a fear monster in you life, try not to feed it. Fear grows from your attention to it.
  2. Weather: In Zen we learned that fear, like every other emotion is just the brain’s version of weather. Hang around a bit and the weather will change as long as you don’t try to hold onto it. So feel the fear, but let it go.
  3. Figure out what is causing your fear. Is it rational? If it is rational, figure out how to mitigate the danger your fear is warning you of. Most fear is not rational. In that case work to push through it. Each time you defeat your fear, it become a smaller monster.
  4. Dance with it. Famed stage designer, Es Devlin says that the most important projects of our lives come about when we position ourselves and our projects on the line between truly impossible and possible, a truly scary place because failure is just a wrong step away. So dance with the fear, let the power of it fuel your energy and your creativity. It’s a power there to be tapped.
  5. Identify your critical voice, that voice that uses fear to control and diminish you. Then expose the myths it is operating with and challenge them. The critical voice exists to stop you from creating your best work. Don’t let the monster win.

Take these steps to embrace your fearless self and find the excitement on the edge of your best life.

Be well friends!

One Comment Add yours

  1. I have also been going through the steps to face my fears, as I have big things coming in the future that I’m not sure how to deal with. In these times, I really like to listen to a song by the White Stripes, Little Acorns: https://youtu.be/KSvGOKH5zxk

    I wonder who your friend moving to Scandinavia is?

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