Fear comes up almost daily for me when I’m just about to write. Fear says things like: you can’t do this, nothing will ever come of this, you’re going to fail. One of the best things I’ve learned from author and motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein is that FEAR is False Expectations Appearing Real.
Unlike a horror movie where your best bet is to run away from the big bad fear, creative people have to be willing to stare that FEAR in the face and keep going. Here are my tips for fighting through the false expectations and keep creating.
1. Surround yourself with positive inspiration.
I have a quote on my wall next to my desk that says, “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.—Conan O’Brien.” It keeps me on track for those moments when I feel scared.
2. Develop a mantra for when FEAR shows up.
I repeat to myself, false expectations appearing real. Some times I have to say it multiple times before FEAR takes a hike, but it works. Whatever helps you clear the cobwebs, say it.
3. Write/create/develop through the FEAR.
Often I look at something I’m writing and think, ugh, that’s awful. But I combat that with, keep going, revise later, and finish this. Just keep powering through.
4. Remember that often the scariest moments in our lives bring us the most unexpected wonderful opportunities.
Any time I’ve been afraid to do something, but did it anyway, there’s been amazing results. I was afraid of moving to LA, but now I love it. I was afraid to date my best friend, and now he’s my husband. I was afraid to publish personal stories, but they have been my best work. Change was scary, but it changed my life for the better.
5. FEAR is good for you.
This might sound crazy, but FEAR is good for you. My therapist tells me that my FEAR is a terrible predictor for the future, but very good information for the present. What does she mean? What I fear most likely won’t happen, but it tells me what I need to take care of in the present. Write down your fears—what’s a common theme? Is there an action you can take to combat those fears? Just like this quotation from Mastin Kipp, founder of The Daily Love, fear is a compass. Use it to your advantage.