Finding courage in the creative process - Part 1
How much of our creativity is hampered by fear? Canon Ambassador Dafna Tal shares ways to deal with our fears in the first of this three-part series
In Part 1, Canon Ambassador Dafna Tal defined what fear means to her and why it’s important to address it while approaching a new project. Here, you will embark on the journey together, as she offers useful tips to help you overcome common obstacles on the way to creating a new project.
Do you sometimes find yourself in a state of stagnation? Where you just can’t seem to make progress with tasks, new projects or areas of your life that you want to take forward? Often, the hidden barrier is fear. Last time I explained the benefits of investing time and effort in getting to know and work with our fears. Here, I want to share with you some practical tips of coping that have helped me along the way.
Before we begin, I strongly recommend that you choose a specific project or area in your life where there is no progress, and then approach and apply the following advice in this context, this way you will mobilise your courage and determination and feel a greater benefit. Reminder: This article addresses non-existential fears. If you feel you are facing real danger, or experiencing levels of anxiety that require support, then please seek professional help.
1. Find a sense of proportion
Do you find yourself saying you “must" achieve a certain goal? Such as "This project must succeed/ be perfect", "I must have this person cooperate with me"? In my experience, every time you add a "must" to a mission, even if it’s with good and positive intention, the "must" turns your desire into a kind of forceful threat. In reality, it is impossible to completely control any outcome. Therefore, demanding yourself to succeed at any cost is unrealistic because it never only depends on your actions. The conditions for success are many (other people, health, social and political situations, even weather), so you will never have complete control. This contradiction creates tension and fear, because, deep down, you know that you do not have the ability to guarantee the success you demand of yourself. An honest assessment will show you that this tension hurts the quality of your action, your feelings, the people around you and, ultimately, the project as well. My advice is to recognise when you feel that you ‘must have it this way’ and adjust this mindset to one that is more productive. How? The next two important tips will guide you.
2. Measure the true meaning of failure
The key to understanding this ‘must succeed mindset’ is realising that behind it lies a fear of its opposite: failure. The fear of failure is of course present in many other situations and may be expressed as resignation (when you give up on your dreams), or trying, but with the stress of fear and tension. The good news is that if you look objectively at your subconscious fear, you will find it is almost always exaggerated, even if the fear may have a grain of truth. For example, if you lose your job, it may (but not necessarily) take time and effort to find another similar one, but it's unlikely that you will never find one again. The inner voice of our fears is often over-dramatic, so take the time to look at your fear more closely:
3. Set realistic goals
After realising it’s neither realistic or productive to try and control ‘success’, and knowing that nothing terrible will happen if we do not achieve our goal, we can redefine success and choose more helpful goals, such as:
Write down your new goals and place them in plain view. After this, you will find yourself approaching projects with a healthy and relaxed desire to succeed, ready to accept the possibility of failure, cope with it and learn from it.
4. Find the courage to ask for help and advice
Do you believe that by achieving something yourself, it makes you better and stronger, and the achievement more worthwhile – more yours? There is no doubt that being independent is an important part of life, but sometimes it leads to us avoiding beneficial help or cooperation. ‘Alone’ is an illusion because nothing we create or invent is really done alone. Our physical survival depends on the help of countless others. Countless brilliant people have worked in the technological development and manufacturing of your camera and lenses. A myriad of artists came before you, sharing knowledge and inspiration. The lone hero is the stuff of fiction. You are part of a beautiful human network of success and discovery. View others as a source of strength rather than competition or a threat. True, fierce competition exists but so does mutual help and community, so focus on the latter while moving on from the first.
Take a mentor, consultant, partner or even a buddy with you and be proud of your professional ability to ask for advice and engage in teamwork. Not only will this benefit you greatly, but it will alleviate your fears and tension. Thus, each project becomes both a more successful and enriching experience of learning and development. And always remember to thank everyone who helped you along the way.