What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
I see this quote a lot, especially recently. Although, I bet I’m simply noticing it more because fear is on my mind.
I’ve been doing a lot of art lately. It’s like someone opened a faucet and now it won’t shut off. Paintings, drawings, sketches –- they are jumping out of me and onto my canvas and sketchbook, as if they’d been waiting for decades to finally get out.
Perhaps they had been waiting for decades.
I’ve shared with you guys before that for most of my life art was something I dabbled in, very occasionally, but never allowed myself to dive into. It was an “extra”, something to which I didn’t allow myself to dedicate more time because “it wasn’t moving my career forward or helping me take care of my family.”
Well, 40 years of keeping it inside ended with a bang, almost literally. I’ve created more art in the last few months than I have during all the years before or than I could have anticipated. And I love creating it, so much.
Which brings me to fear.
Because I have a lot of fear about getting my art out there.
About admitting – to myself, mostly – that perhaps it’s not such an extra. That perhaps it’s core to what I do, how I live, what I have to share with the world.
About trying to do something more with it and failing.
About not being able to figure out how to make it a genuine, vs. forced, part of what I do – for work, for life, as a human.
I have fear about sharing it broader and no one caring.
I fear that it’s not good enough.
I’ve heard many people describe me as fearless. And while I think it was meant as compliment, I don’t think it’s possible to be human and have no fear. Not if you’re trying to do something new, something creative, something that brings you to your edge, in whatever way. And we all do that in some way, so we all fear.
The answer isn’t to remove it somehow. I don’t think it’s possible, not all the way. Perhaps the only way to remove fear is to never try to do anything you fear, which would make for a pretty terrible way to live, in my opinion.
It’s also not realistic to just ignore fear. That won’t make it go away.
I think the answer is to first, acknowledge our fear, accept that it’s there, and break it down a bit:
What would you do if you weren’t afraid of…
… disappointing someone
… disappointing your own expectations
… looking like a fool
… not fitting into your own story
… not making money
… having to give up and try again?
We have to start by figuring out exactly what we’re afraid of. (No guarantee that you’ll like the answers, but you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Spoken from first-hand experience.)
And here’s the second step, one that I’m working on taking.
The second step is to try to move from a place of fear to a place of love.
I know, I know. These are big words and when I first started thinking about this my reaction to my own thoughts was to try to dismiss them as too vague, to wishy-washy, too, you know, out there.
But actually it’s pretty tangible and concrete:
We can either make decisions from fear or from love.
There are many words you can substitute for love: passion, commitment, trust, kindness, dedication, faith, abundance, gratitude. We may use different words but I know you know what I mean.
What would you do differently if you could shift from a place of fear to a place of:
… love of doing what you do
… trust in the good intentions of others
… commitment to your purpose
… strength of your convictions
… gratitude for having an opportunity to do something
… dedication to a cause, big or small
… faith in kindness
… passion or excitement for something in your life
… belief in your own ability to overcome challenges?
I realize I’m offering more questions than answers, but I’m learning that might be the point. Sometimes, we have to change the question to get more clarity about the answer.
So my question for you and me today is:
What would you do differently if you move from a place of fear to a place of love?