what to do in the face of fear...
There’s a pattern common to so many of us, particular creatives. I’ve noticed it both in myself and my clients over the years and in the public at large, it’s the reflexive response of contraction in the face of fear or change.
It’s a fairly natural thing to shrink back if we are afraid, challenged or if we feel there is risk being exposed.
We are pretty much hard wired for it, our prehistoric brains are programmed for fight or flight and the instinct for self preservation runs deep.
I don’t know about you but I can feel that contraction happening almost at a national level at the moment. We are, perhaps, in a time of increased uncertainty. For anyone consuming the media (which I personally tend to avoid) there’s an awful lot of doom and gloom, and the pundits would have us believe Britain is going to hell in a hand-basket and pretty quickly.
When we contract we deny, we avoid, we limit, particularly around spending or anything perceived as unsure or risky. We become more ostrich than empowered.
It’s easily done and the chances are when you begin to shrink you don’t even realise it at first. It seems like you’re just being thorough or prudent.
But contraction is counter productive. Particularly in business and especially in creative work.
Gradually the energy of contraction starts to affect our voice, our creative expression and the direction of our work. We become over cautious in decision making. What we are prepared to say or create is given boundaries that weren’t imposed before. Our inspiration gets dimmed as focus shifts to protecting what we have, rather than creating what we want. As we create less, speak less, dare less, we get…less.
I’ve come to appreciate that change is pretty much the only constant. It is inescapable as each moment gives way to the next and things are constantly in motion. Even if we are to metaphorically and literally stand still, we cannot control the pace of change around us as much as we could the movement of earth through space. So you might describe all of the time as ‘uncertain’. The only thing that alters our sense of stability or security is how we perceive the situation and how we act in the face of it.
Change is inevitable. Uncertainty is guaranteed. The only realm within our complete control is our internal landscape and the choices we make.
Contraction is triggered by fear.
The opposite of fear isn’t safety or courage, the opposite of fear is faith.
When you have faith in yourself, your ability to respond to situations, in your creativity and ability to innovate and re-orientate, it brings courage. It enables you to lean in to whatever comes your way and continue to expand, create, innovate, inspire, invest in yourself and your business and do your best work because that should be our response to fear. That can be your response to uncertainty. That is what will enables you to weather any climate and realise your true potential.
So if you feel that doubt creeping in, that sense of hesitancy and contraction, ask yourself what faith would do, what inspiration would do and how would the brilliant and empowered entrepreneur that you are capable of being, respond?
This beautiful image is by Annie Spratt and really gives me hope and helps me stay focused on what is beautiful on the horizon.