The Inner Dragon: Fear and Rejecting Fear
The Design.org Manifesto for Creatives is all about learning to unleash your inner dragon and the fierce creativity it represents. We’re here to help creatives (and aspiring creatives) learn what it means to be fiercely creative, what is holding them back from embracing that creativity, and how they can push through those blocks in order to “create happy” in their lives.
Over the next several weeks, we’re going to take a closer look at each of the beliefs we introduced in our Manifesto, starting at the top with:
We believe in fear, and in rejecting fear.
Fear is the cave the inner dragon sleeps in. It’s what’s keeping your fierce creativity at bay. Fear is real. There’s no use pretending it isn’t. We all have it, and it holds us all back. It is only when we recognize and acknowledge our fears that we can truly face them, and it is only when we truly face them that we can conquer them. As creators, we are not willing or able to sit back, accept fear, and allow it to control our lives. What we have to offer is far too important to let fear keep us from sharing it.
As we’re trying to explore the connection (or disconnection) between fear and creativity, each of the statements in the section carries a lot of weight. Today, I’d like to break this down to really get into why it’s important that we as creatives believe in fear, and in rejecting fear.
“Fear is the cave the inner dragon sleeps in. It’s what’s keeping your fierce creativity at bay.”
A dragon’s cave is where it goes to sleep—certainly not where it goes to do all the other things that make dragons, well, awesome. The cave hides the dragon from the world, hides the dragon’s treasure from the world, and keeps it contained. From inside the cave, the dragon can’t make a difference in the world.
In this way, fear acts like a cave for our creativity. Whatever “treasure” we might have to offer is hidden inside our little caves of fear. We may think that we’re protecting ourselves—shielding ourselves from the ridicule or pain that can sometimes accompany creating—but really, all we’re doing is hiding. We’re forcing our creativity to sleep in the dark, unseen by the world. We don’t even give it a chance to spread its wings and thrive.
“Fear is real. There’s no use pretending it isn’t. We all have it, and it holds us all back”
Fear is a real, physiological phenomenon. It’s an emotion that arises naturally when we feel threatened in some way. Fear is not imagined or easily overcome. There are measurable, biological fear responses that prove this.
Claiming you’re not afraid of anything is (a) untrue, and (b) unhelpful. Everyone is afraid of something, and that’s actually not a bad thing. Fear is essentially functional; it has allowed the human race to stay alive, ultimately keeping us safe from the many dangers that could have potentially wiped us out generations ago. If you don’t have fear, you live a very dangerous life indeed.
Not to mention, pretending you’re not afraid of anything doesn’t benefit you at all. How will you overcome fears you can’t own up to? Living in denial will only enable your fear to flourish in the shadows.
“It is only when we recognize and acknowledge our fears that we can truly face them…”
It may seem counterintuitive to think that admitting to being afraid of something is what can ultimately give you power over your fear, but it’s actually true. Again: how can you overcome fears you can’t own up to? How would you even know what fear you need to overcome, if you don’t know—or can’t admit—that the fear is there at all?
This is where self-reflection comes in. It’s important to get introspective when it comes to your fears. What are you afraid of? Some people might not know, and some people might do their best to deny it. Neither of these will help you get past your fears. Do some digging to find out what fears are holding you back.
“…and it is only when we truly face them that we can conquer them.”
Only by facing your fears can you conquer them. What exactly does this mean? It means showing up in spite of fear, or even alongside fear. It means being willing to step up to the plate even if you’re afraid of striking out. Exposing yourself to the things you’re afraid of might not make the fear go away, but it will definitely mean that you have retained your power over the fear, because you are choosing to live anyway.
“As creators, we are not willing or able to sit back, accept fear, and allow it to control our lives.”
Now we come to the “rejecting fear” part of our belief. After all, even though we believe in fear and in the negative power of fear, we also believe that it’s important to do whatever you can to reject that fear.
This statement clarifies that creatives are not willing or able to let fear be in control. Creatives reject the notion that they are slaves to their fears, even while acknowledging that those fears are real. The important thing about this statement is that it keeps you in control of your own destiny. It’s deliberate. You are purposely rejecting the notion that fear is more powerful than you, yourself. You refuse to let fear run the show. This is the ultimate way to conquer fear: by letting it exist, while denying it any control.
“What we have to offer is far too important to let fear keep us from sharing it.”
Why would we reject fear so adamantly? Because creativity is worth it. Creatives know the joy that fierce creativity brings. They believe that they have something meaningful to contribute to the world, and it’s their greatest wish to share it.
With this statement, we give creatives permission to not let fear hold them back. We remind them that creating is worth the risk of feeling fear, and that their own happiness is worth more than their fear ever could be. Fear isn’t what’s important: “creating happy” is.
Why this comes first
This is the first section of our Manifesto for a reason. If you’re denying your fear, or denying your power to overcome your fear, then it’s going to be hard to progress creatively. In a way, acknowledging, accepting, and working to overcome your fear is an important first step in setting your inner dragon free.
If you’re struggling with fear
Fear itself can be a scary thing to face. It can be humbling, eye-opening, and disheartening to recognize the things that you’re afraid of, and to admit how much they’ve been holding you back.
If you’re struggling to recognize and work through your fears, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- When do I know that I feel afraid?
- Do I struggle with procrastinating? Could there be fear at the root of that?
- What do I think is the worst thing that could happen when I share my creativity with the world?
- What am I afraid of when it comes to: relationships? Health? Goals? Wealth? Career?
I’d also recommend reading some of our other blog posts on fear, including:
If you’re going to unleash your inner dragon, you’re going to need to believe in fear, and in rejecting fear.
And guess what? If that scares you, it probably means that you’re off to a good start.
Unleash your inner dragon, with Design.org.
Our free assessment and free, personalized coaching program can help you start working through your fears so you can “create happy” in your life. There’s nothing to be afraid of—start today!