Small Fears, Yours and Mine

How much of what you want to do do you avoid because of fear? The phone call you don’t get around to. The music lessons or art project you’ve secretly wanted to do for a long time. The apology you owe to a family member.

For most of us, an ongoing series of small fears are part of the human condition. They may share a common theme (such as fear of rejection) or be for a few different reasons. When they occur, we are conditioned by experience to respond pretty much the same way most of the time, usually even before we notice that fear is present.  It’s what author Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” in his terrific book The War of Art. Pressfield makes the point that most creative people need to overcome or go beyond those little fears to move forward with the projects they care about. Otherwise they get bogged down in distractions and all sorts of less important other activities.

I am not a fearful person most of the time. I don’t expect bad things to happen and I rarely worry. But I can still find an insidious pattern of little fears that slow me down and keep me from creating what I care most about.

The Seventh System took decades to write. Part of the reason it took so long was the process of sorting out thoughts and organizing ideas. But another part was fear. I can’t even recall those feelings in detail or what I was afraid of. Probably fear of failing and disappointing myself and others.  All I remember is long periods when I wanted to work on the book and didn’t. Something stopped me. It was fear.

What fear is stopping you from doing what you really want to do?

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