How to Overcome Fear & Let Your Creativity Flourish

by | 16 comments

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” – Sven Goran Eriksson

When you are happy you are confident, and you make choices that give you a better chance at success. When you procrastinate and resist change, that’s fear taking over.

It’s difficult to pull up that creativity anchor and let the “happy you” set sail.

Your fears are just trying to protect you from emotional pain. It’s self-preservation.

This is a weird dynamic that can stunt us from creating great stuff.

My Story

I was afraid of trying to get two of my novels published.

I didn’t want to put the time and effort into contacting agents only to be rejected (sad view, but true).

It was more important to me to avoid rejection than it was to make my novels a success.

I’m no longer afraid, but that’s because I’ve taken baby steps to overcome this. I’ve developed a blog that is read by 10’s of thousands of people. I realize that nothing I create will be perfect.

It came down to letting go of my fear in order to allow success to happen.

Your fear is only trying to protect you from the pain, but it is also holding you back from being truly happy.

After studying my own fear, I was able to create a system that’s simple and easy to apply in almost every circumstance.

Overcoming Fear

1. Listen to your self-talk.

2. Know that whatever you feel is okay.

3. Create a plan you can emotionally invest in.

4. Take small actions.

5. Review your progress.

6. Find the fun.

The only way you will overcome your fear and allow your creativity to flourish is by practicing. If you want to master your emotional intelligence, you have to have fun with the process. The great writers, musicians, and gardeners all make mistakes, but they still have fun improving on their mistakes.

Let’s break down how you can handle your fear and enjoy the process of being creative.

1. Listen to your self-talk

Your fear starts with how you communicate with yourself. If you feel energized by an idea but your thoughts start tearing the concept apart before you even begin, you will lose motivation quickly.

You need to sit down with yourself and watch the patterns that arise. Are you worried that people will laugh at your effort? Are you afraid that you will fail?

By sitting down with your thoughts and noticing what occurs, you will have a better grasp on what is stirring your fear.

2. Know that whatever you feel is okay

Your feelings have a right to be there. They are, after all, trying to protect you. It’s important to be compassionate you’re your emotions because you can’t change these feelings.

If you expect to overcome your fear, you have to accept your feelings and find a way to move in a more positive direction.

I’ve struggled with allowing my emotions to be as they are without trying to force myself to feel happier. I used to make the mistake of trying to force new feelings. For example I was rejected for a key note address because they wanted to take the concept in a new direction. I thought I was going to land the job, but instead I had to face this disappointment. I went for walks and practiced Yoga like a mad man trying to change my feelings. It wasn’t until I accepted this disappointment that I was able to move on.

3. Create a plan you can emotionally invest in

You can choose to wallow, or you can choose to create a plan of action that will focus your energy. You have to create a plan that will pull your emotions toward action. If you can’t get excited about the next plan then you will stay stuck.

I used to constantly make the mistake of trying practically the same plan without any changes. It’s important to create a new plan that will give you a better chance at success. This new plan should get that internal motivation back up and energized for a renewed effort.

Your new plan has to be more important than the previous pain of the last failure or else you won’t take action.

4. Take small actions

You have to take small actions that will help you build confidence. If you’ve created a plan that you can emotionally invest in, now it’s time to break down the goal into smaller pieces in order to quell your fear.

You must take actions on small goals because this makes it easier to feel successful. If you look at the project as a whole, it’s going to feel overwhelming. A series of small achievements will build confidence. When you believe you can accomplish a tough goal, you will have a better chance at success.

Once you are chipping away at the project you will gain momentum. A set back can easily slow that momentum down, so you need to make sure that you take the time to assess your accomplishments.

5. Review your progress

After completing small tasks, you should review your progress. Your motivation will dwindle if you don’t. So take the time to appreciate what you’ve accomplished and think about how you can be even more productive.

Fear is a tricky emotion. Fear may force you to see the negative in what you’ve accomplished, bringing down your mood and motivation. Remember #2 (Know that whatever you feel is okay). Acknowledge these feelings, but at the same time keep looking for the positive in what you’ve done.

I’ve been working on an ebook for this site. I want to give more in depth information about the emotional development that you can achieve at work. I have a tendency to finish a chapter, look back over it and internally beat myself up (Don’t do this to yourself). I’ve learned to stop this negative behavior (on most days).

Once these feelings pass, I settle myself and ask ‘What needs to be fixed?’ I’ll then start taking baby steps (#4: Take small actions) to keep the process moving forward.

6. Find the Fun

The last step is to make the work as much fun as possible. If you aren’t having fun overcoming your fear then you are losing out on some amazing self teaching moments.

You need to discover a way to find the fun.

I used to hate editing. I would rather create something new all the time. The problem with disliking the editing process is that my unedited writing sounds like a 9th grader wrote the piece.

When I edit I imagine myself as one of my favorite writers (Bukowski, Trunk, or Hemmingway), put on some masic (Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven), practice 60 seconds of deep breathing, put a little thanks into the universe for giving me the skills to reach wonderful people such as yourself and then I get started.

This set-up releases the hidden anger and impatience and allows me to enjoy the editing process.

Putting it All Together

Your fear is the heaviest detriment to your creativity. It can be an anchor on your imaginative thoughts.

When you let your fear hold you back, you are letting your emotions dictate your confidence.

You need to appreciate your fears and realize how they can help you, and then you need to let them go. This will allow you to do the great work that will bring you so much joy. You will soon find that every effort will fill you with so much passion that you can’t be stopped.

What do you do to let go of your fear so you can be creative at your job?

Photo by Pareerica

Karl Staib

Karl Staib writes about unlocking and kicking open the door to working happy at his own blog: Work Happy Now! If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his Free 10 week E-course or follow him on Twitter.