Creating and Anxiety

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible:
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

– Dawna Markova

Find your wayBECOMING AN ANXIETY EXPERT

Anxiety and fear can prevent us from being creative or living a life we love. To live and create fully be must be willing again and again to step out of our old comfortable life and into unknown territory. This always feels scary. Many years ago I read the self-help book Feel the Fear, And Do It Anyway which presents the premise that just because we feel a sense of fear about a project or moving in a new direction in our lives doesn’t mean we are supposed to stop ourselves from proceeding.

More recently I’ve been fine tuning my understanding of what this really means and feels like, how to best use it in my life and creative work, and how it fits the idea of following my internal guidance of my intuition and heart to bring my soul and creative gifts into the world. Any time I stretch in a new direction in my writing or my personal and professional life I have to step out of my comfort zone which gives rise to a feeling of anxiety. I’ve found it’s important to learn to distinguish between the kind of anxiety that represents our bodily intuition signaling a real threat (like don’t walk down that dark alley or that new relationship really isn’t good for you or that’s really not the best art project for you to pursue) versus the kind of anxiety we feel when we step out of our comfort zone in a way that stretches our capacities, capabilities and sense of self. The anxiety that is genuinely trying to warn us off feels heavy with fear whereas the anxiety that simply marks stepping out of our comfort zone has a sense of exhilaration to it.

When I’m at my desk writing and I start to feel a lot of resistance, if I make myself sit in the chair and keep writing, (even when I desperately want to get up and make phone calls or clean the refrigerator), I find that I will usually move through the anxiety into what I really want to say and find myself very excited by the work that results. The same is true every time I do anything new in my life that feels like a stretch. I feel nervous and excited whenever I push past the feeling of fear and take action to make the new idea or vision happen.

When you are trying to decide what the fear or anxiety is trying to tell you, just take some deep breaths and get clear on the exact quality of the feeling in your body: whether you feel contracted or expanded by the thought of what you desire. If you feel expanded then you need to “feel the fear” that comes with it and begin to take action however small toward achieving your desire. Also new neuroscience shows that the simple act of naming or labeling a negative emotion like fear calms the brain which makes it easier to get clear on what to do.

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