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What Fear Is Telling You—and How It’s Lying to You

At one point, a client told me she’d realized she’d been living in a cage of fear her whole life. Curtailing her choices. Limiting her behavior. Backing away from her writing when fear reared up.

(See yesterday’s post on the cage of fear.)

She was ready to be done.

There’s a secret to dealing with fear: It’s knowing that fear can be telling you something AND lying to you.

What fear is telling you

Fear is often signaling that there’s something you need to handle.

For example, take a look at your own fear.

Ask yourself: What am I really afraid of?

Maybe as you try to write your novel, you’re flashing back to an angry parent who punished you for “daydreaming” and said you’d never amount to anything.

Maybe you’re afraid your sculptures won’t be good enough—and then you’d have failed at your big dream.

Maybe you have a subconscious fear that if you make it big as an artist, you’ll lose your marriage, family, or friendships.

Maybe you’re afraid the “risky” screenplay you’re writing will bomb, you won’t make any money, and you’ll be out on the street.

Your fear might reveal

  • There’s past trauma you need to heal
  • You care deeply about a project—and have invested your identity in it
  • You’re afraid of losing something you value if you succeed
  • There’s a practical consideration you need to make plans for

Fear can help you uncover something you need to handle—so you can release pain from the past, have an important conversation, or take empowering actions.

How fear deceives you

Photo by Nicolas Picard on Unsplash

Early in life, you took on fears about doing your soul’s work, being an artist, time, money, responsibility, family, and so much more.

When you face the unknown, those fears will naturally come up. After all, your system is used to responding with those fears.

These fears aren’t necessarily the most logical or likely dangers; they’re the “default fears” installed in you by your past experiences.

In other words, your fear is not the truth. It’s just a habitual way of responding to the future.

It may feel shocking to hear that. After all, didn’t fear just alert you to something important you need to address?

Yes, and by all means, handle it.

And, remember: Fear is not the truth. Fear points at a distortion so you can correct it.

When fear comes up, the Universe is signaling something that needs to be healed or handled.

HOWEVER, if you mistakenly interpret fear as a prediction of the future, your life choices will be based on a deception.

Focusing on the fear itself will keep you stuck.

The way out

Because your fear is not the truth, focusing on it will not free you.

What will free you? Choice and action.

Choose to step out of the cage of fear.

Choose to act as an artist acts.

Choose to do your creative work.

Yes, this may take baby steps at times.

Yes, there will be growth involved, and yes, you may need support.

And, yes, there will also be moments of triumph and power and disbelief at how quickly or easily you’ve created something or discovered an opportunity or achieved a milestone.

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As for my client? After she realized she was caged by her fear, she chose to get free.

And, with support, she’s been blossoming as a novelist. Pushing through creative anxiety. Finishing scenes she’d been avoiding for months. Deepening her craft. And walking in the world with new confidence.

You can do the same.

I believe in you.

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P.S. If you know how important choice and action are, but you have trouble actually doing your art, email me about the Artist in Action program.

It’s designed for ambitious writers and artists who are tired of having their careers dragged down by fear and avoidance.

You’ll get concrete guidance so you can move past the fear, DO your creative work, and have a successful creative career.

Interested? Email me and let’s talk.

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