Fear and Developing Creativity


We may experience both restrictive and positive aspects to fear and other strong emotions. Accepting and working with fear can be an essential part of the creative process. Fear can keep us from developing our talents, or even try to do a few things that might help us realize what our talents really are. Psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD thinks only a small part of the creative people work as often or as deep as they could, because “anxiety or some light anxiety like doubt, worry, or fear. Anxiety is the great silencer creative person.”

We might naturally choose things that are good to avoid fear. But there is a way to limit us both general and creative. Moving into unfamiliar territory in some way, explore new feelings and actions, is the essence of being creative and innovative. Psychologist Robert Maurer, PhD, who works with many writers and other creative people, has described key skills that successful people have, including awareness and respect for fear, both want to feel fear and to reach for comfort when we need to. He says successful people have a built in “nourishing voice” that automatically and care “is explained to them that it is okay to make mistakes, okay to be scared, okay to ask for help.”

Based on behavioral science research and his experience as a therapist, Dr. Maurer notes there are both positive and passive responses to fear. He describes the “inner parent” that can either soothe us when we are afraid, or lama or restrict us, as healthy or unhealthy responses to emotions such as fear experienced early in life. He thinks accepting and working with fear is an essential part of the creative process, but warns that success in relationships, or develop creative projects such as the publication of the novel, does not make fear go away. He explains: “So your skill at being able to nourish yourself and give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them is your single greatest attribute as an artist and as a person.”

Actor Nicole Kidman has commented “Success, I think, fear of sex. You suddenly said:” Oh, I can do it again? “And when you start to ask questions like that, you throw your creativity in the wrong arena. So you just have to walk away from it.” Fear is actually good, Dr. Maurer has done. “As children, fear is a normal part of our lives, but as adults we view fear as a disease. It is not a disease.”

As children we say we are afraid or scared, but as adults we can use clinical terms like anxiety or stage fright. While strong levels of fear or other emotions may benefit from medical, if we are too quick to pick up or flee for fear rather than to work with them, we may lose out on valuable insights and creative fuel.


writer by Douglas Eby

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