Ask any psychologist worth his or her salt, and they will tell you that the two greatest motivators of human action are Love and Fear, and they exist in a timeless battle within each of us. Chances are you can think of people in your life right now who are strongly motivated by one or the other of these emotions. Take a second to think of these folks.
Of course I don’t personally know who exactly came to your mind, but I DO know them.
You probably first thought of a person who is strongly motivated by Fear. (There seem to be many more of these poor souls walking the Earth right now, so I’m just playing the odds.) This Fear motivated person lives in a state of constant anxiety over threats both real and perceived. They may have real financial concerns or they may have plenty of money in the bank (or in their boxsprings because, you know, you can’t trust the banks…), but regardless of their actual net worth, they worry about money all the time. They also worry about their friends and family and the decisions those people are making in their lives. They worry about contracting Ebola. They worry that they will be the next victim dragged down the aisle of an overbooked flight. They worry that the whole wide world is going to hell. (OK, maybe we’re all a little worried about that…) They worry. They agonize. They are not fun at dinner parties.
Hopefully, you also have one person close to you who is motivated by Love. This person is a breath of fresh air. They probably have a hobby or two – something they do just because they really enjoy doing it. They probably aren’t rolling in the dough, but they are just fine with that. They have enough to meet their needs and for that they are grateful. They know if hard times befall them, they will find a way to make it through. They have a strong network of friends and/or family and are always there to help when needed. You can’t help but smile when you randomly run into them at the grocery.
But this post isn’t about them. This is about Fear (which, by the way, plagues even those motivated strongly by Love, but the Love folks have learned to identify their Fear and send it on its way). Fear, of course, is a necessity for all of us. Without Fear we would drive down the highway at 120 mph or try to pet a grizzly bear or wash our darks with whites in warm water. We need Fear to keep us safe and to keep our whites bright, but when we are going about our daily existence without these life threatening situations looming over head, our mind tends to create threats that don’t exist or aren’t plausible, and that is when we need to keep our Fear in check. Creative folks – this especially applies to you.
Public speaking consistently ranks as one of our top fears in life. Like, it ranks above fear of death. The only reason that people fear public speaking is that they are afraid of failing – of looking foolish in front of a lot of people. This is pretty ridiculous. We are so caught up in the way the world sees us that we are practically paralyzed by the thought of screwing up in front of everyone. Here’s the rub: we are all going to fail at some point. We are all going to look foolish. So what? Own it, laugh about it (if you can) and move on with your life.
Jim Morrison said (allegedly, according to a meme I saw once), “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom sinks and vanishes. You are free.” Now doesn’t that sound nice? Doesn’t that sound so much better than a life filled with unnecessary anxiety? Can’t we all just take a breather from our worry about failing or looking foolish and just do whatever it is we are here to do? So, I beg you, please acknowledge your Fear, name it for what it is, and send it on its way. Unless you are actually in imminent physical danger, your Fear is serving no purpose whatsoever. And it’s making you miserable. And it’s making those who love you miserable too.
If you are a creative person, or a fledgling creative person, I know that you experience Fear on a regular basis because it is TOUGH to make something from your heart and soul and put it out into the cruel and heartless world. Guess what? Not everyone is going to like what you made. Stop thinking about those people. Some will like it. Some will friggin’ love it. In fact, something you make might just touch someone so deeply that it changes their life. So I beg you, let yourself be lead by the Love of creating and put your work out into the world. It may be ridiculed, it may be reveled, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you Loved making it, and more Love is exactly what we all need.