The Limiting Power of Fear

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Tonight was the first night’s study of The Artist’s Way. We explored the ways our creativity has been blocked through our lives. I never really thought I was creative until I started writing this blog. I thought of myself as sort of dry creatively. And I think I was. But, when I started writing, I began to shuck many of the fears that I had about showing up as who I am. It wasn’t intentional, and I honestly didn’t know that I wasn’t. But in looking back, I realize how much I’ve grown. I never would have gotten the courage to start writing if I hadn’t been courageous in my personal growth. It was a process that started slowly and continues to build.

I shared some of my early feelings about being creative. My Dad was a long-time celebrity sportswriter here in Baton Rouge. I saw writing as a career. I knew I could write. In fact, my first job out of college was as a beat reporter at the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen TX. I wrote free-lance off and on but finally gave it up because it was not lucrative at all. I remember my writer husband editing my writing. I got really frustrated because it seemed like my writing must have been horrible with the number of changes he recommended. I finally quit, thinking I’d never be able to do it at the professional level. I never thought about writing for fun.

The beauty of blogging is that nobody is going to critique it. I can write whatever I want. Sure people can make some nasty comments, but, for the most part, they don’t. In fact, most of the time there are no comments at all. I’m left with my own inner critic. It is the freedom of not being right or wrong that allows me the freedom to write creatively. Now, I’m wanting to learn a little more about the skill of writing, but it’s taken me awhile to get there. I’ve even had people recommend that I find a way to make money off my blog. I don’t want to because I don’t want to start censoring what I write by what I think would make money. That’s not the point for me. Maybe one day I might write a blog that would make money, but it would be a business blog. Midlife Moments is about me… and for me. It’s my little space in the world where I can show up when and where and how I want to with no rules. Isn’t that what creativity is all about?

One of the things I realized tonight is I have self-censored myself more than anyone else ever has. My Dad came to me one night after I first moved here and apologized that he had sort of steered me away from writing as a career. He had always wanted me to have a high-paying career so that I could have financial freedom, and journalism is a notoriously low-paying gig. I thanked him for saying that, but, really, I was never that obedient of a child anyway. My choice not to go into journalism was much more about my fear of being able to perform up to the standards necessary in chasing a story and putting it down on the page. I was a chicken, and I had little self-confidence. I had to grow into myself before I could step out into such a public arena. I envy people who did that early in life.

I have always had this fear of not being able to perform to expectations. I know that I’ve held myself back. I know that I’ve not developed my talents the way I could have. I also have a fear of success. What if I was successful and then people would have these expectations of me that I couldn’t meet? What if I landed a great job… started my own business … married a great guy … or wrote a best-selling novel? What would that mean? I’m comfortable shrinking. I’m not so comfortable expanding. I told this coach one time that I was afraid to look for a new job even though I needed to because I was afraid. I feared they would expect too much at the new company, and I would be found out as the fraud that I am. She told me that every executive she ever coached said the same thing. Apparently, many people have this fear that we’re really not as good as we’re supposed to be .. that who people think we are is so much better than we really are. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve shared this story with because they’ve mentioned the same fear to me. It is really common.

What if I could step into the power of who I am? I have a meditation tape that urges me to think about a belief that I have about myself. “What would happen if you let go of that belief?” she implores. I always feel such a relief when I think of that belief of my not being good enough vaporizing into thin air. I can feel the rush of power moving up through my chakras and exploding into my heart. I feel the joy of being free and acting without the shackles of unmet expectations holding me down. I want that so badly. I know it’s as easy as letting go of it, but it’s also as hard as lifting a 5000 pound boulder.

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The only way I’ve found to change beliefs about myself is through the power of other people. That’s what is drawing me to this workshop. I know that I can’t shift this on my own, and I probably won’t shift it in the next 12 weeks. But what if I could budge it? What if I could let go of it just a little? Could that help me open up a little more? Then I may be able to open a little more after that? Change comes really slowly to me. Tonight when I got home, I drew a Medicine Card. I got the Horse card. Horse medicine is about power. Man walked slowly upon the earth until he learned to fly with Horse. It was a game-changer for man.

Horse urges man to realize that wisdom is power, and there is wisdom in our ENTIRE life journey. Looking back over our entire lives will tell us many things we need to know. I learned a lot tonight in looking back on my early experiences with creativity. I learned that there were people that encouraged my creativity, and there were people who didn’t. But, the biggest blocks I had were self-imposed by limiting fear.  Could that knowledge be the ‘horse’ that changes the game for my creativity. What if one day I could fly across the sky? The journey continues…

7 thoughts on “The Limiting Power of Fear

  1. Through your blog, you let me be part of your process. I appreciate being a witness to your explorations & growth.

    The support of others is essential for me too.

    And here is one of my favorite quotes from your post:
    “I know that I can’t shift this on my own, and I probably won’t shift it in the next 12 weeks. But what if I could budge it? What if I could let go of it just a little? Could that help me open up a little more? Then I may be able to open a little more after that? Change comes really slowly to me. ”

    Change comes slowly for me too. Your description of budging rather than quick-shifting is powerful.

    I used to push myself right over the edge of my comfort zone, and then end up overwhelmed, anxious and stressed about what I’d done.

    After many years, I am starting to rely on the small, incremental changes that add up over time. I have experienced this kind of growth, and it works for me.

    It can be challenging because lots of personal growth books and programs push “do it now” and “what are you waiting for?” and “jump in with both feet.” Going slow runs counter to many cultural messages for success. I look for people who are able to support & celebrate my inch-by-inch changes — “budges” it as you so aptly put it.

    Sounds like you are off to an exciting 12 weeks!

    • I think yoga taught me that. I always thought I had to move mountains. It kept me stuck because who has the energy to move a mountain? I’m lucky this morning that I got myself to my mat. You were in my morning pages this morning. I was remembering your insight on my fox card. My line last night about being comfortable shrinking reminds me of that card. I’m really angry when I shrink even though it’s my natural tendency. I’m just sitting with it right now. My intention today is just to notice when I’m shrinking and when I’m expanding. Those morning pages are feeling powerful to me.

  2. What a thoughtful and insightful post, Sharon! It is very inspiring to me to read about your explorations and self-examinations. I am at a crossroad as far as making some important changes – with the last child off to college, it is time to think about what I want/need next. When my husband and I married, my oldest was 8, so we have never not had children. There are things that have been ignored or swept under the carpet of family busy-ness for quite some time, and I find myself shying away from looking too closely, because it’s just scary! But I also know I’m not interested in being unauthentic in my relationships for the next 40 years, either. So changes will have to be made. I think little “budges” are a good place to start. Hope you have a great weekend, and that Ashok is feeling better 🙂

    • Thanks, emmaclaire! I’m glad you liked it, and I hope you are taking off on a new adventure with the transitions you have going on. I love the little budges. Sometimes it’s too scary and too hard to do big things all at once. I find that when I budget a little, I can then budge a little more. Pretty soon, I start picking up a little more speed naturally. Before you know it, the mountain was moved, and I hardly felt like I did anything. Ashok is feeling better, too. Tonight we walked, and she rolled around on her back in the grass. That’s the first time she’s done that in awhile. I’ll be glad when things are back to normal.Keep me posted, ya here?

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