More on Fears (Not Moron Fears)

See what I did there? It’s a pun.

I can’t help it…anytime I hear the phrase “more on” I think of “moron.”

Moving on.

A partner in crime just-starting-a-blog, Diane Whiddon-Brown, wrote about starting her blog in spite of her fears and it reminded me of a book I (re-)read recently.

Here’s Diane:

Every day I work on it. Every day I write. And every day I get a little closer, if not to publication, then at least to self-acceptance.

I notice two things in that passage:

1. “Every day I work on it.”

Diane is *working on* her writing, not expecting to wake up having mastered it.

2. “…closer, if not to publication…”

She plans to continue to write even if publication doesn’t happen as soon as she hopes.

These ideas echo The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Have you read it?

He talks about how Resistance keeps us from doing the thing we want to do. And the main remedy for that is to work at your Art. Every. Day. In fact, he refers to it as “turning pro.”

The catch is that turning pro involves doing your work for the love of the Art – it’s something in you that has to come out even if nobody’s buying.

If you work on your Art the way a professional writer, or painter, or musician does, Resistance won’t get the best of you.

But where does Resistance get its power? Fear.

Not just any fear. In fact, I’ve had to rethink my first post just a bit, because Pressfield states that those fears are…

…serious fears. But they’re not the real fear. Not the Master Fear, the Mother of all Fears that’s so close to us that even when we verbalize it we don’t believe it.

Fear That We Will Succeed.

That we can access the powers we secretly know we possess.

That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are.

This is the most terrifying prospect a human being can face, because it ejects him at one go (he imagines) from all the tribal inclusions his psyche is wired for and has been for fifty million years.

Let that sink in a little.

I’ve heard it before, that people aren’t truly afraid of failure, they’re afraid of success. But this is the first time anyone has explained it in a way that made sense to me and could penetrate the outer crust of my brain.

It’s that desire for “tribal inclusions” that gets us. (Hello, Fear of What People Will Think.)

But Pressfield goes on to remind us that even if we do get rejected by one group of friends (or family), there are other, new friends waiting for us.

Case in point, my stepping out on the ledge to start blogging (both pre- and post-publication) has put me in contact with so many amazing new people.

So in this last post of 2008, my wish for all of us is that we can find the courage to turn pro, sit down and work on our Art every day. No matter what flavor of artist we are.

Happy New Year, everybody. Stay safe, have fun, and make it a good one.  See you next year!

8 thoughts on “More on Fears (Not Moron Fears)

  1. Joely Black (@TheCharmQuark)

    This is a brilliant quote, and very true. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time. What a wonderful post to read in the last hour of 2008 – for me at least. This was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you!

  2. Sarah Lacy

    I’d heard of the War Of Art but never read it.
    That really resonates with me as well – I finally get what they mean by fear of success. I knew I had it, but didn’t understand why.
    Suddenly everything’s fallen into place :)

  3. Eileen

    Wow, this is great stuff. You touch on so much here, but one thing the opening reminds me of is the book Art and Fear. In it the authors describe a college ceramics class which was divided into two groups: Group 1 was to be graded on the *quantity* of ceramic pots that they made, regardless of quality. Group 2 would be graded by the *quality* regardless of quantity, so even if they only produced one by the end of the semester, it had to be perfect…Well of course the outcome is that Group 1 ends up making the best quality pots anyway since they just kept at the practice and didn’t get hung up on every detail; Group 2 ended up being paralyzed by fear. Not sure if that’s a true story (and if so I would imagine poor tortured Group 2 heading into therapy) but I love the lesson there.

    Will definitely have to check out The War of Art, thanks!

  4. James | Dancing Geek

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing that War of Art quote. Having somebody be able to say because… is amazing! Fear of success always sounded so fluffy that I never really got what it was talking about, it sounded like a cute pun on fear of failure. But this way it’s so easy to see how we can get hung up on where we are now, and the unknown that comes with growth and change, that we resist even those things we want!

    Love it! :)

  5. jyshsieh

    Hi Victoria — it’s Jenny from Blogging Therapy class. Congrats on starting the blog, I’ve so enjoyed reading your posts.

    Definitely resonate with the ironic sounding ‘fear of success’ — why is it there? For me, it means the end of blending in, and the beginning of being seen. It feels incredibly vulnerable, kind of like the lone animal slightly set apart from the herd, the one that the lions are going to go after come dinner time… But it’s comforting to hear that what happens is you join a new herd!

    Take care

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