For the creative person, fear is always nearby. But in spite of the close proximity, it’s usually a very strained relationship. Fear is one of those emotions that most of us are trying not to have. Because it doesn’t feel good, it’s been coded as a so-called “negative” emotion. And we’re so keen to avoid this negative emotion that we find ourselves avoiding situations that elicit fear for us, so we code the fear-inducing situations as “negative” as well.
But, fear isn’t bad at all. All emotions have a positive purpose that serves us. Have you ever thought about the positive purpose of your fear?
Fear is a signal you’re learning
Because we’re designed this way, we tend to respond to ALL unfamiliar experiences with fear - even if they’re not dangerous. So long as you’re taking yourself into new territory, and growing, you’ll always feel some fear along the way. From a creativity point of view, fear is useful because it makes you more alert when you’re learning and growing. And fear is a signal that you’re learning. In fact, if you’re telling yourself you’re learning in a particular area of your life, yet you’re not feeling any fear in that area of your life, you’re probably not learning.
Fear lets you know what’s important to you
A third purpose of fear is that fear let’s us know what’s really important to us. Think about it: when something isn’t important to you, you probably don’t care what happens with it, and you won’t feel fear then. It’s the stuff that’s closest to our hearts, that we really care about, that we feel the most fear about - because it matters to us how things work out. With so many choices available to us these days, alot of creative people find it difficult to figure out what’s really important to them and decide what they want in life. A really counter-intuitive, but easy way to figure whether something is genuinely important to you is to notice how much fear you have about it. The more important it is to you, the bigger your fear will probably be.
Fear holds creative tension
When there’s an unresolved problem or a gap between where we are and where we want to be, a tension develops. The bigger the gap, the greater the tension, and fear we’ll feel. Alot of the time, in order to relieve the tension, we change our vision of where we want to be or stop asking that unresolved question. Successful creative's embrace this tension, knowing that tension is an important part of the creative process. Creative tension motivates our unconscious mind to continue searching for a resolution, even while we go on with our other tasks or go to sleep at night, those epiphanies that you have, where the idea just seems to have popped into your head out of nowhere.
So next time you feel afraid, stop and remind yourself that fear works. And then check which purpose your fear is serving, and ask yourself, “Knowing that this is the purpose of my fear, what would I love to do next?”