Making Friends With Your Fear

Have you ever made friends with your fear?  I attended a coaching networking meeting on fear a few months ago.  As a coach who wants to inspire others to face their fear and live courageous lives, I write and talk about fears alot.  How do we conquer them?  What gets in our way?  You get the picture. 

As 20 coaches sat around discussing fear, many of them said they had been researching fear.  They've read books.  They've thought deeply.  As for me, I'd done none of those things.  Apparently, up until that point, I was just sharing my opinions on fear. 

So I made it my goal to research fear.  If I was going to help anyone become courageous, then I would become an expert on fear. 

Except there's so much good stuff to read.  Please see  5 Resources for Living Your Best Life or My Looking For Lovely Challenge.

So I never researched.  

Until I listened to one of my fave podcasts.  The host and her guest were talking about this book called Big Magic.  It was all about creativity and fear.  

Recently, I've had a change of heart about my own creativity.  Because I'm such a strategist, I always thought of myself as a non-creative.  You know that person always asking How is that going to work?  I saw myself more as the shutter down of creativity. 

But since I've opened my businesses, I've realized I'm more creative than I thought.  I have ideas.  I write things.  I like to create given the right opportunity. 

So I bought the book to read on my trip to Phoenix last week.  And while so different than anything I would describe on creativity, I loved it! 

In the book, Elizabeth talks about the idea that fear and creativity go hand in hand. 

Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.
— Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

To be honest, I've experienced that first hand.  So often, when I write a post or create a coaching tool or workbook, I'm putting my work and my heart out there. And you are too when you create something.  Whether it be that project plan at work or something for your family or something more personal like a piece of art or something you've written, you too are creative. 

So often, I think our own fear gets in the way of our creativity.  It's easier to shut down and decide we aren't the creative types than expressing our God-given creativity in ways that build others up and contribute to His kingdom. 

Elizabeth's answer to this fear is to welcome your fear in.  In essence, we should make friends with our fear.  

If you are anything like me, you'd rather kill off your fear than make friends with it - so this thought has stayed with me since reading it in my hotel room in Phoenix one evening. 

I'd rather get rid of my fear so I could be free to fly.  I'd rather kill my fear so that all those scenarios in my head wouldn't matter.  I'd rather be all creative and no fear.

How about you?  In your most gut level honest moments, does fear ever get in your way? 

Yeah, me too.

So what do we do with our fear and just what does it look like to make friends with it?

We Acknowledge It

The reality is that fear is a part of our lives.  And in some ways, we need fear.  Fear prevents us from jumping off cliffs, driving at unsafe speeds, and making risky investments. 

But fear can also hold us captive to things that God is asking us to step into.  Things like trying to control things we just can't control.  Things like living out our God-given purpose.  Fears like creating things that would help people see more of Jesus. 

In this book, Elizabeth created space for both fear and creativity to co-exist.  She simply acknowledged that when she was being creative - fear would be it's traveling companion. 

Instead of trying to get rid of our fear, what if we just simply acknowledge that it was part of our life?  

Make Friends With Your Fear

I know it sounds weird.  During my coaching training, we read this children's book called What Do you do with an Idea?   The idea behind this idea book is that you make friends with your idea.  You don't leave it as this inanimate object, but you get comfortable with it.  You get to know it.  

The idea stood out to me because, well, it's weird, right?  Who makes friends with an idea?  Who makes friends with their fears? 

And yet, I think when we settle in, acknowledge our fears, and welcome them into our lives, they lose their power over us.  It's when we can name our fears that God can speak into our fears.  It's when we own that we have fears that we have the courage to do scary things even when we're afraid.  It's when we befriend our fears that we also befriend God's truths about our fears. 

Demoting Your Fears

If I'm honest with you, I too often allow my fears to be in the driver's seat.  My fears end up making my decisions for me.  

Should i initiate and make a new friend?  Should I write about that?  Should I put that out there for all to see?  

I don't know what your fears are - for some reasons our fears tend to be as unique as we are and yet so common that we identify with each other's fears.  But to be honest, I think so many of us allow our fears to ride shotgun.  

Elizabeth wrote about having a welcoming speech for her fears.  The gist of the welcoming speech was essentially this:  Fears, you can come on our journey.  The journey creativity and I are taking.  But you aren't allowed to make any decisions. Fear is not allowed to have a vote.  Fear is not allowed to consult the road map.  Fear is not allowed to drive. 

Maybe it's a little excessive, but I liked the word picture this created in my mind.  How often do you and I let fear do the driving?  How often does fear get a vote? 

The thing is fear should never do the driving, God should do it.  Fear must not vote, because God's vote just counts for more. 

And in the end, making friends with our fear is not about bowing to our fears, but bringing them before the throne of God and allowing Him to speak into them.  I need this reminder every day:  God is still bigger than my fears.  And armed with that, you and I are free to step out of the boat, into creativity and purpose, and watch as God changes our lives and the lives of those around us. 

I'd love to hear from you.  Have you ever made friends with your fear?  What fears are you battling today?  I'd love to pray for you on your journey. 



Danielle AllenComment