If you’re reading right now, I’ll bet you live in a pretty safe place.
It’s probably a place where you have fresh food and water readily available (heck, it’s likely a place where Amazon will even deliver fresh food and water to your door!); a place where you can walk to the corner without fearing for your life; a place where most all of your physical and material needs are accounted for.
As a species, we’ve made it this far partly because we’ve been able to feel our fear and take the appropriate measures. I mean, if our ancestors didn’t run from those saber-toothed tigers, some of us might not be around today. So those instincts to respond to our fear made quite a lot of sense at one time.
But what about now? None of us (hopefully) are being chased down by saber-toothed tigers. We not only have food and water upon demand, but music and movies and you-name-it streaming into our homes 24/7. We live in a pretty cushy world here in the US in 2015.
The Things We’re Afraid of Now
The things we’re afraid of now are in our heads.
I don’t know about you, but these things get me in a twist right now:
– Posting an über vulnerable blog post.
– Putting my real, heartfelt work/words/art out into the world, no matter what anyone says –or doesn’t say – about them.
– Having a tough conversation with someone when I feel that they’ll get upset at what I have to say.
– Stretching out beyond old familiar roles I’ve played (ie, “nice girl”), and into what I think I’m truly capable of.
– Feeling and acting as if I really know what I’m talking about (does anyone out there understand this one? It’s about finally owning up to all of my skills, talents, gifts, knowledge, etc).
They’re all about truly being seen, being honest & being myself 100%.
And here’s the funny part: I feel the same sense of danger in doing these things as if I were still being chased by that tiger.
Fear As A Guide
Like Seth Godin, Steven Pressfield and Brene Brown (among others), I submit that rather than running away from the things we fear, following our fear is precisely what we need to do now if we are to evolve to the next level.
For those of us who want to keep growing creatively and otherwise, fear and resistance are our greatest compasses, always pointing us toward our next evolutionary step.
“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.
Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Hallelujah. And, OH SHIT.
Pushing through fear is HARD. In my most fearful, resistant moments, it takes everything I’ve got to really stand behind myself and do the thing. EVERYTHING. It takes commitment to myself and my larger vision. And sometimes even that doesn’t feel like enough. It takes every ounce of determination that I can muster.
So why bother going through this pain? What’s the point?
Well, for me, when I do push through my resistance, I win a sort of inner battle. I win what Pressfield might call the “War of Art:” I overcome my own fear (which is a hugely gratifying experience in and of itself) and feel more alive, more on purpose and more pride, knowing that I DID the thing I was afraid of.
“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Next time you feel fear and resistance, rather than push it away, I invite you to get really curious about it. Let yourself simmer and soak in it a little longer. Let it inform you.
And then, when you’re NOT ready, take a deep breath and hold your own hand as you take the next tiny step toward it.