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Facing your fears

Facing your fears

I recently finished listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic; Creative living beyond fear, audio book. I started the audio book and literally could not stop until I was done; 5 hours straight. The book offers insights and advice on how to live a life that’s driven more by curiosity and not fear. This can be achieved by taking on what you love and conquering things that get in your way.

I learned a couple of things, maybe a hundred depending on how you break the lessons down and I’m excited to share some with you.

Let’s get started!

  1. Without bravery, your life will remain the same.

“Your fears are a kind of prison that confines you within a limited range of action. The less you fear, the more power you will have and the more fully you will live.” – Robert Greene

If you let fear control you, then you let opportunities pass you by and the way you approach life will always be the same; with fear.

Elizabeth asks readers “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures hidden within you?” According to her, it’s not about being fearless but being courageous.

Don’t let self-doubt get in the way of your goals. It takes courage to overcome rejection and criticism. It’s all about allowing your passion to be greater than your fear. Many a times, we let the fear of failure control us and instead become hostages to fear.

Talking about courage, a few weeks ago one of my colleagues resigned from work to go and do her own business. I really admire her courage and the step she took into creating her own path. She acknowledges that she is aware that it’s not going to be easy but she is not scared. She’d rather experience all the bumps along the way than settle for safe.

Sometimes we let fear hold us back and are scared of stepping out of our comfort zones for fear of the unknown. In short, we have a choice; to either let fear hold us back, or acknowledge fear is real and keep moving forward anyway. (This is something I’m working on as well)

  1. Embrace your failures

Liz changes a famous question which goes ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?’ to ‘What would you do if you knew you would fail?’

We all fail sometimes and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about as it’s part of learning and growth. That question is meant to encourage you to let failure be an inspiration and motivate you to be more focused and work harder to elevate yourself. One thing to keep in mind is that failure inspires you to be better.

Often times if not always, we are sick of the mundane and sometimes are not content with our jobs but since it offers the security of getting a paycheck each month, we are not open to the idea of change. I admit change is hard and scary and it can break you in the process. However, never be ashamed to struggle or fail.

  1. Your fear is boring

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find that he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” – Henry Ford

In her book, Elizabeth says, “One has to be careful how they handle their fear. Instead of fighting fear, make space for fear because the less you fight fear, the less it fights back and if you relax, fear relaxes too.” She mentions that one should not push to get rid of fear as fear is important because it protects us from actual dangers but we don’t need fear in the realms of creativity.

Instead of fighting fear, acknowledge that it exists but don’t give it a voice, don’t let it make decisions.

The next time you feel fear holding you back, ask yourself ‘What is the worst that can happen?’ Let’s say one time your fears came true; you didn’t get the job you interviewed for, the business you started wasn’t successful, you were laughed at, you expressed interest in someone but they weren’t into you… the list is endless. So what?

Of importance is you tried, you overcame your fear and put yourself forward. That’s all that matters!

  1. There are times when we really need a bit of entitlement.

When you believe you deserve something or deserve to be successful, you don’t let anything get in the way.

You will never be able to create anything good in your life if you don’t believe you are entitled to at least try.” says Elizabeth. She goes ahead to quote Poet David Whyte who calls this level of entitlement Arrogance of belonging and he claims that without arrogance of belonging, you will never push yourself out of the suffocating insulation of personal safety and into the frontiers of the beautiful and the unexpected.  Arrogance of belonging is a divine force that will take you out of yourself and allow you to engage more fully with your life.

How entitled do you feel to change, to grow or to be successful?  Think about it.

  1. The drive for perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time. 

“Perfection is impossible. Just strive to do your best.” – Angela Watson

No matter how hard you try to make something perfect, there will always be someone who finds fault in it. Nothing is beyond criticism.

Perfectionism sometimes holds us back and instils self-doubt in us. Let’s be real, perfection doesn’t exist. Can you think of one person who has no flaws? (Let me know)

Every single person has imperfections. And That’s okay.  The sooner we realize and accept this fact, the sooner we can let go of the desire for perfection and embrace ourselves and situations as they are.  Instead of focusing on the need to be perfect, focus on progress and give yourself a pat on the back for trying.

That’s it guys!

PS: If you are a fan of reading, grab yourself a copy of Big Magic but if you don’t want to commit to the book, you can listen to the audio book.  Elizabeth has also done podcasts called Magic lessons where she tackles the subject of creativity by having real conversations with people. They are incredible and free. You can find them on the podcast app.


Whatever happens, keep trying!

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