Well what a week it has been, I often wonder how so much can happen in just 7 days but so often these days it does.
When the world keeps changing and not in a good way, it can often add to the internal fear we already have as creatives to move forward with our ideas. When our external narrative becomes increasingly shaky too, it suddenly seems less safe to forge ahead and you end up stuck, not sure where to go next.
I can’t say that fear was a big part of my life before last year but 2019 taught me many things, not least because it was the most up and down year as a family we’ve had for a long, long time. Before that when I think about it, I’d been comfortably trotting along and felt very much in control, and this is the key word I think, because it’s when things are taken out of our control that every thing feels so much more heightened and frightening.
Walks and working out in the fresh air are still the best thing for me to process and gain perspective
Last week I took part in the free ‘Time to rise and be seen’ masterclass by Andrea Callanan which looked at fear in one of the sessions. It was a strange experience, as she talked more and more about fear actually being useful and treating it as a friend that is there to protect you, I realised how much I had been holding back from feeling fear, following last year it dawned on me that I’d become terrified of feeling any sense of fear ever again!
This was quite revolutionary and felt like a physical response, I could literally feel my heart rate rising listening to her speak. And I wasn’t alone, for many people on the call, talking about fear really hit a nerve. And when you think about it, given everything that has gone on so far in 2020, it’s no surprise that many of us are feeling all scared- out and just don’t want to be stalled in a constant state of low-level fear anymore.
It’s why many of us have stopped watching the Covid-19 updates and are choosing to protect ourselves in our own safe bubbles of home and inner circle.
But as you can imagine, you can’t push down fear on a constant basis, or it becomes exhausting. It’s about learning to deal with those feelings, understanding what it’s trying to tell you as your protector and then changing your state to get through it.
Andrea’s first day of focus was about Gratitude and Taking Action as the key strategies to adopt when you want to change your state. By this she means if you’ve woken up in a negative or sense of fear frame of mind, that’s leaving you stuck, there are things you can do about it, you don’t have to resign yourself to it being a ‘bad’ day all day long that you just need to battle through.
After the fear session I realised my dramatic response that seemed to come from nowhere, was obviously a more extreme reaction due to it being my final PET scan the following day, where I get to find out for certain if the Hodgkin’s lymphoma is in remission or not. Andrea talked about the acronym for fear:
And that fear is usually based in the past (experience, challenges or trauma) or the future (anxiety) and this certainly hit home for me and explained why it felt like a double whammy. My fear was based on the challenges of cancer over the last 6 months and anxiety of the future – what if it were to come back?
I decided to adapt this theory for myself, replacing Fear with Ear, as a sign to listen to what it was trying to tell me and then re-ground myself in the truth of the present – i.e. right now the evidence is that I had a clear scan in January, and that is the only personal fact I have to base anything on right now. So, carrying on the theory of Gratitude and Taking Action, it would look something like this.
My lovely nurse and now friend Debbie, and masked up for the scan, I have such a little head it covers most of it!
When I focus on all these elements, just by recognising what I have with gratitude makes me feel calmer and that everything is ok, right now, which then allows me to move on to taking action, which I know for me is the best thing to avoid just ‘waiting’ for the phone to ring and avoid the ‘watched kettle never boils’ situation!
So, the Actions I took looked like this:
Can’t beat some painting time, putting the finishes touches on an earlier piece and making my fave Jamie Oliver’s lasagne!
So, what do you think, could this practice work for you when you are feeling the fear and in the midst of an internal panic? I guess the key thing is to be able to recognise and acknowledge how you are feeling, and I know from above that initially I had not!
I was doing everything I could to avoid it but then when it was triggered by the training, it come over me like a tidal wave, so try to face it head on and as Andrea says, it is there as a human trait to protect you, to help us survive.
And I’ll be using this practice again this week. As well as some big challenges last week, there were also some great successes:
Above, the Wow team on one of our virtual calls in lock-down and below Andrea talks about fear and the words we associate with it
Which brings me to the next slightly scary situation! When I wrote my New Year’s intentions this year, part of that was to become more visible so that I could spread the message of the benefits of creativity to a wider audience. Last year I’d started to do some short product review videos as part of my role as an Eco-panellist member for Psychologies and found doing it surprisingly okay.
Then this year other opportunities have come my way, such as podcasts and the live Facebook interview with Suzy Walker, Editor-in-chief at Psychologies in April, which was scary but it was arranged so quickly I didn’t have too much time to be nervous! Plus, Suzy made me feel very comfortable, so it was more like having a chat with a friend (it’s now had 4.5k views, crazy!).
The video is what’s lead to this upcoming collaboration, and I am beyond excited but also a little nervous because if anything scares me in my work, it’s technicalities! I haven’t done any Instagram lives myself yet, and living out in the sticks in the countryside sometimes makes internet connection an issue! Plus, there’s always that anxiety of no-one coming to watch what I have to say!
So, let’s examine this fear via the practice above;
Following these positives, I’ll then use this to guide my action:
I hope this gives you some idea of how you can use this practice both in your personal life and your work, just typing the above certainly makes me feel a lot more in control, and when we feel in control, fear is lessened.
And finally, just a note on another source of fear for me last week, which I suspect we have all felt recently, following the sickening murder of George Floyd in America.
Like many content creators who are white, I struggled knowing what to do for the best to show my support and to try and be part of the change that desperately needs to happen. As many turned their squares black on Instagram on Tuesday last week, which I understand that people wanted to show their support, it just didn’t feel right for me, and then when Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired, who I already followed on Instagram, spoke out through several ‘Lives’ this week, about how she was fed up of being silenced, it really resonated with how I’d felt.
So my point is, it’s easy to follow a trend that’s out there, but it’s more important to carry on the conversation and keep talking even if you are a little un-confident or scared because it’s far better to speak and make small mistakes and learn, than to say nothing at all, because then we are all part of the problem.
An equal society needs deep conversations from all parties to build those human connections and fight for what is right.
Not all people will do this in the same way, you have to find YOUR way and use your voice but I can highly recommend as a starting point listening to Nicola’s videos, she isn’t an anti-racist educator, she’s an inspiring creative woman who just says wholeheartedly how she feels, and those are the voices we need to listen to and then choose how we respond accordingly.
That being said, I challenged myself to write from a black woman’s point of view for my YWL Blog post this week, it took me ages, I cared about trying my best to get it right and I wanted it to reach a climax of hope (and linked to the main picture of a double rainbow). I’d be really interested to know what you think by either commenting on my writing piece or on here.
I don’t profess that I’ll always get it right, but I do want to try harder.
And on that note, I wish you a week of less fear, more gratitude and action, and certainly more hope…
Until next time…
Juliet, the curious creative x
P.s If you are interested in Nicola’s work, click here for more info
PP.s If you are interested in Andrea’s work, click here for more info