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6 Famous Artists Talk About What It’s Like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty

6 Famous Artists Talk About What It’s Like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty

Long before I was publishing articles for the world to read, I wrote in a private document. I did this for more than a year. There were a variety of reasons and excuses that I used to rationalize why I wasn’t sharing my writing with others, but in many ways it boiled down to fear.

Here’s what I didn’t realize at the time: fear isn’t something that must be avoided. It is not an indicator that you’re doing things wrong. Fear is simply a cost that all artists have to pay on the way to doing meaningful work.

Obviously, not everything that is thought or written or created needs to be shared. In our age, where everyone has a voice and a platform, there is a lot of noise created.

However, if you have a story inside of you, I think you should share it. If you have an idea that you’d like to create, I think you should build it. If you have a dream that would make the world a slightly better place, then I think it’s your responsibility to deliver it to the rest of us. But it won’t be easy. All artists deal with fears, self-doubts, questions, and a roller coaster ride of emotions.

With that in mind, here are six passages from famous authors, actors, and artists on overcoming fear and unleashing your creativity.

1. Fear tells us what we have to do.

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steven-pressfield

    “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

    Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”
    —Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

    In the beginning, it is more important to start than it is to succeed. It is only through starting that we reveal the opportunity for growth.

    2. Start small.

    seth-godin

      What we need to do is say, “What’s the smallest, tiniest thing that I can master and what’s the scariest thing I can do in front of the smallest number of people that can teach me how to dance with the fear?” Once we get good at that, we just realize that it’s not fatal. And it’s not intellectually realize – we’ve lived something that wasn’t fatal. And that idea is what’s so key — because then you can do it a little bit more.
      –Seth Godin (full interview)

      Mental toughness is a skill, and like any skill it can be developed. Learning how to overcome fear is just like building a new habit. Start small and increase slowly.

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      3. Run to the roar.

      tina-essmaker

        When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar.
        –Tina Essmaker (full interview)

        It’s not your job to tell yourself no. It’s not your job to reject yourself or grade yourself or debate the value or worthiness of your ideas. Your job is to create. Your job is to share. Your job is to overcome fear and run the race.

        Yes, if you build something people might judge it or dislike it. But if you don’t create and share the things that you have inside of you, then you’ll commit the far worse crime of rejecting yourself. You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you.

        4. Now is as good a time as any.

        hugh-laurie

          It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something — I’m not. I’m not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.
          –Hugh Laurie (source)

          It will never feel like the right time. Do not wait for someone to give you permission to begin. Nobody is going to tap you, nominate you, appoint you, or choose you and say, “Now, it’s time to start.”

          Give yourself permission. Successful people start before they feel ready.

          5. Artists endure.

          friedrich-nietzsche

            To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not – that one endures.
            –Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

            Ultimately, the chance to persevere through self-doubt and fear and procrastination is one of the greatest opportunities we have for self-discovery. It is through creating that we find out who we really are and what we are truly made of.

            Live in the arena rather than judging from the crowd. It’s more exciting down there. Whether you win or lose, the fight is the reward.

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            The bottom line

            Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished?
            Yes; work never begun.
            –Christina Rossetti

            Contribute to the world around you. Create and share the brilliance that you have inside of you. Life is not meant to spent solely consuming the things that others have made.

            James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.

            This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

            Thanks to Maria Popova of Brain Pickings for pointing me toward some of the quotes above.

            Featured photo credit: Lauren Finkel via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on December 9, 2019

            5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

            5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

            Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

            Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

            Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

            1. Get Rationally Optimistic

            Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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            This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

            In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

            The result: no more mental stress.

            2. Unplug

            Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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            How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

            It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

            Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

            3. Easy on the Caffeine

            Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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            Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

            4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

            That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

            How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

            • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
            • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
            • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

            While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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            5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

            This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

            The result: mental stress will be gone!

            So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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            Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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