Fear and courage don’t seem likely bedfellows. Yet, they are showing us every day how they play together amongst the citizenry of Ukraine. When you’re fighting for survival, it stretches the limit of one’s creativity. Some may say that creativity is not even involved in warfare. I disagree.
While creativity in warfare interacts with a much higher level of courage and seriousness compared to presenting an advertising campaign, it requires effort and takes courage, as Matisse says. The Ukranian people are showing resiliency and mucho bravery. Creativity lives within that realm.
Fear and courage impact our creative thinking and expression
Even in a non-combat zone, fear attacks us everyday. Courage is what most of us try and muster to get through a day’s time unscathed by said fear. We may not be fighting to stay alive but we are fighting. We’re fighting our internal demons and our self-doubt. We’re fighting to retain some of our creativity and resourcefulness.
Author and teacher Elizabeth Gilbert admits “the only reason I can speak so authoritatively about fear is that I know it so intimately. I know every inch of fear, from head to toe. I’ve been a frightened person my entire life.”
She points out that “Evolution did well to install a fear reflex within you, because if you didn’t have any fear, you would lead a short, crazy, stupid life. You would walk into traffic. You would jump into giant waves off the coast of Hawaii, despite being a poor swimmer…
“So, yes, you absolutely do need your fear, in order to protect you from actual dangers.
“But you do not need your fear in the realm of creative expression.
Seriously, you don’t.”
She adds: “Just because you don’t need your fear when it comes to creativity, that doesn’t mean fear won’t show up.
“Trust me, your fear will always show up, especially when you’re trying to be inventive or innovative.
“Your fear will be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.”
She says this “natural and human” fear reaction is “absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something that very much needs to be dealt with” in order to realize our creative ideas.
Dealing with fear
In her book on the creative life, she writes:
“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.”
She lists “some of the many ways in which you might be afraid to live a more creative life:
“You’re afraid you have no talent.
“You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored.
“You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it.
“You’re afraid somebody else already did it better.”
Do we need to be fearless?
She also writes about dealing with fears like these:
“Now you probably think I’m going to tell you that you must become fearless in order to live a more creative life. But I’m not.
“Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction.
“Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means.” (From her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.)
Creativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel says about fear and creative people:
“You want enthusiasm, passion, love, curiosity, interest, and so on to inform your work and to exist right in the moment, in the performance moment or the creative moment, while at the same reducing (or eliminating) your fears, worries, anxieties, and so on.
“Creating is not an energy-neutral state: it is a high energy state, with, at its healthiest, enthusiasm and not anxiety driving its engine.”
Bravery, courage, fear and determination will drive the people of Ukrain in their resolve to retain their country. Although on a different level, these assets will also govern how we perform in our next presentation. Creativity will play a large part in how we and they do.
This post was written in part with the information provided by Douglas Eby (M.A./Psychology), author of the The Creative Mind series of sites which provide “Information and inspiration to help creative people thrive.”