Are You Letting Fear Hold You Back?
Updated: Jan 18, 2022
My stomach feels like it’s full of snakes. My palms are sweaty, but my mouth feels like it’s stuffed with cotton. I swallow desperately, trying to get some moisture down my throat. My hand hovers over the button. I click the mouse. Publish.
This is what I go through every time I send some of my work out into the world. Fear takes over, and my body insists that I am in mortal danger. Is that actually true? Of course not. There’s no gremlin living in my computer that’s going to burst through the screen whenever I create content. But try convincing my lizard brain of that.
Two Different Fears
If I dig into it, there are two different fears I deal with almost on a daily basis. There is the fear of rejection which rears its ugly head every time I go to publish something. And there is the fear of failure. This one comes around when I try something new which is all the time as I travel this road of business ownership.
Fear is how our bodies react to a threat. Sometimes that threat is real, and sometimes it’s perceived. A real threat would be a velociraptor suddenly appearing through a rift in time and trying to eat you. A perceived threat is when you get up in front of a crowd and suddenly feel like speaking to them will absolutely kill you.
The velociraptor would kill you for certain. The crowd probably won’t. But your brain interprets both situations as life and death.
Let’s take a closer look at these two very common fears and what we can do to sneak around them.
Fear of Rejection
Fellow creators, this is a fear we deal with constantly. We pour our hearts and souls into our work and then eventually have to shove it out the door and hope it survives the cruel world.
As a copywriter for creative entrepreneurs, I deal with this fear on two fronts. I have my own fear of putting my writing out there, and the fear of my clients. We are all so nervous that people won’t like what we do.
But the truth is, you can’t make everyone happy. That can be a hard pill to swallow, and my inner people-pleaser is howling at me right now.
When I was in first or second grade and started working on my first novel, people told me it would be difficult to publish. They told me I wouldn’t make money as a writer. They told me over and over that I needed to write something lots of people liked in order to be successful.
This is some of the worst advice I have ever gotten.
Say it with me. You cannot make everyone happy. And believe me, I know that is easy to say and a lot harder to believe. I still struggle.
I’ve started to turn this around, though. I learned a fun little trick from Ruth Soukup over at Elite Blog Academy, and it completely blew my mind. I’ve seen this advice pop up in other places, and it is truly life changing.
Make an avatar and create just for them.
It sounds so simple. Yet it has the power to completely turn this fear around. In your mind, create a character. Get to know them on every level. How old are they? What do they like/dislike? How do they spend their time? What are their hopes and dreams?
Then you create something that will please them and only them. You don’t worry about anyone else’s opinions. In fact, you throw them out the window.
Why does this work? It keeps your creative work focused which tends to make it better overall. And you’ll be surprised how many people out there end up being just like your avatar and will love your work.
Fear of Failure
I’m pretty sure that anyone who tries something new experiences a fear of failure. It’s easy to get wrapped up in thoughts of “What if?” What if it doesn’t work? What if I suck? What if I go broke? The spiral is never ending.
When I’m in that spiral, my brain tells me to just stop doing anything. It’s a safety mechanism. After all, I’m surviving. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, enough disposable income to buy a book just for fun now and again…
It would be so much easier to just go with the flow. I could easily ride the Lazy River of life day in and day out and make it through just fine. But then I see all the people whooshing off the biggest water slide, grins splitting their faces and joy sparkling in their eyes. That’s what I want for my life. I want endless possibilities, not predictability.
So how do you get over the fear of failure? Without indulging in endless shots of tequila…
To be honest, I don’t have a concrete answer to this one. All I can say is it’s a numbers game. You probably will fail over and over and over again. And then one day, you won’t.
It’s like learning to ride a bike. Remember when you were a kid and you took the training wheels off? How many times did you fall over before finally figuring out how to balance? I still have scars on my knees from hitting the loose gravel on our street. But I kept trying, and I eventually could ride my bike with no hands. And I could go around corners like that! I was the envy of the other neighborhood kids.
You might hear “No” a thousand times. You might start and stop, start and stop over and over again. But eventually there will be a “Yes.” Eventually something will click and you’ll find yourself out of the Lazy River and climbing the stairs to the big slide, ready to whoosh into the rest of your life.
So push publish on that article! Send out your website! Offer your services to someone you know needs them. Don’t let your fear hold you back.
And if you need an extra little nudge, I’m always here to support you. Just click my email and let me know what fears you struggle with. firstname.lastname@example.org