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The Creator Mindset Map — Fear

The Creator Mindset Map identifies, affirms, and validates the complex feelings and emotions creators juggle when bringing each project and every idea to fruition. Each of the core mindsets (Hope, Fear, Grit, and Glory) is natural and offers an opportunity for positive growth and personal or professional development. While some feelings are easier to manage than others, there isn’t a true hierarchy here. There’s no right or wrong, no beginning or end, just stages everyone experiences repeatedly, throughout their creative career. It’s okay for you to be wherever you are; we are in this, with you.

Curious about the other core mindsets? Explore Hope, Grit, and Glory.


The Fear Mindset

Has it started to feel like too much? Are you coming down off the high of launching something and facing the reality of needing to do it again and again? This is where fear sets in.

  • Fear makes hope seem futile and naive as if you’d ever feel that way again.
  • Fear can render you numb, making all those gritty details about your chosen work seem too hard to accomplish.
  • Fear can make you feel resentful of glory, feeling mocked by its very existence.

This is the mindset where you feel like you suck and nothing works. Even if you’ve had success before, ven if you have an idea or two, everything seems to take too much work and energy from you and you don’t think you can ever deliver on your genius ever again. In fact, you might start to believe you never had genius creativity flowing through you. Plus, what if you fail, and fail publically? You despair that you’ll never do anything notable, worthy, or good again. You might be angry or resentful with yourself for choosing this path or frustrated with others who aren’t recognizing your needs or validating your concerns. Overwhelm dwells in fear, and you might be hidden under its weighty blanket. Feelings of inadequacy and numbness are pretty common heretoo, often showing up simultaneously, telling you that you’re not good enough so don’t bother doing anything, anyway.

Picture this

If fear were a place, it would be a dark and treacherous forest on the edge of a vast desert. You might spend hours, days, months wading through a desolate desert, wondering what happened to your creativity and confidence. You think you see a boat docked here, ready to take you away from this place — you’re just about ready to give up and get out of here — but it’s a mirage. You know there’s no quitting. You’re stuck in this lonely place. When you’ve trekked ceaselessly in despair, you finally feel you’ve made progress only to stumble into a dark and dank forest. The shadows of your own movements taunt you, your inner critic is amplified by the lonely darkness. When you see light, you discover a fire pit tended to by your personal demons, and you need to avoid it lest you slip in. Fear is out to get you. Fear keeps you stuck. But fear isn’t as powerful as it wants you to believe; even the lack of growth in the desert and the isolation of the forest don’t go on forever.

You have permission to experience fear

🠆 You have permission to feel fearful about your creative career.

🠆 You have permission to feel stuck and not know what to do next.

🠆 You have permission to hate feeling this way, and hate being afraid

🠆 You have permission to worry that you’re not good enough and never will be.

🠆 You have permission to fear that you’re not worthy of happiness or success.

🠆 You have permission to have bad ideas, to feel crappy about your projects or career.

🠆 You have permission to feel like everything sucks and nothing can fix it.

🠆 You have permission to rage about how hard it is, to be unhappy and angry.

The stages of fear

The fear mindset is an evil trickster, keeping creators down and in the dark. If you find yourself fearful about your creativity, your work, or yourself — please remember that these are natural feelings everyone experiences. Even mega-stars and artists have fear. It’s totally natural to question your life’s choices and contemplate throwing in the towel on a creative life. This is when you might think “hmm, was that 9-5 job really all that bad?” Fear can drive creators to despair, lamenting that no good idea will ever come, ever again. And then, as if to mock you, an idea pops up but it’s hopeless or too much work. Fear can make you feel lost and alone. Fear sucks, but it’s a part of the process. As you read through the stages below, ask yourself if you’ve been there before, and if the stages sound familiar to you.

Questioning

  • You take stock of what you’ve done and wonder what to do next
  • You’re debating hopping on the nearest boat and sailing away into a new life that doesn’t involve this creative endeavor
  • You’re questioning all of your actions to date and regretting some choices

Despairing

  • You feel like you’ll never be able to top what you’ve already accomplished
  • You feel like nothing is working and everything just keeps getting harder
  • You feel lost and alone
  • You’re wondering why you even bothered with this creative career first place

Ideating

  • You’ve been trying but nothing is working
  • You see success in the distance, but it feels too far off to reach
  • You’re still searching for an idea that can get you moving forward
  • You fear that your next project won’t be any good

Sucking

  • Your new ideas are being taunted by your worst critic: yourself
  • You’re committed to your idea, but the ground is dissolving beneath you
  • Your self-doubt and inner demons try to stop you from pursuing even good ideas
  • You’re stuck worrying if your idea is still worth it
  • You’re afraid that you’re just not good enough

Prepare for fear

Fear totally sucks. It’s lonely and terrifying and frustrating. But it’s a part of the creative process and it bubbles up multiple times throughout one’s career. The best way to combat fear is to plan for it, embrace it, and allow yourself to dwell in it for as long as you need to. Answer these questions to best prepare yourself for the next time you find yourself in the fear mindset.

  1. How do I feel about being here?

  2. Will it make me feel better or worse to stay here for a bit longer?

  3. Do I need to be here or can I give myself permission to move on?

  4. How can I best use my time here? What should I do while here?

  5. What can I learn by being here?

  6. Who should I spend time with when I’m experiencing fear? Who can I count on to be supportive?

  7. What habits do I have when I’m in this space, what behaviors do I seem to correlate to fear?

  8. If dwelling in fear makes me feel better, what are some things I can do to stay here longer?

  9. If I want to move out of fear, what is one small step I can take today to get going?

  10. What’s a good anchor for me when I find myself in fear? A song, a piece of art, an affirmation, a person? What or who can I count on to remind me that this is a temporary stage and that it’s okay to be here?

Fear is universal

Remember, fear is a universal experience, though it comes in many forms. Why you’re feeling a certain way is unique to your experience, but what you’re feeling is likely a common emotion among other creative people. The odds are another creator is going through something similar to you right now, reading these words, acknowledging the same hopes and fears, and leaning into the grit in pursuit of glory. You’re not alone, and you’re allowed to feel the way you do. We’re in this, with you.

Stay tuned for more advice on what to do when you find yourself in a fearful mindset.