I’ve been thinking a lot today about the fears that come up almost immediately whenever many of us try to embark on a new creative project.

“Don’t do that!  You’ll look foolish!”

“Don’t do that! It’s just a copy of somebody better than you.”

“Don’t do that! They’re going to laugh at you.”

photo by pierrotsomepeople

The voices in our heads that pounce on our desires with gnashing teeth are, they think, protecting us. Protecting us from ridicule, from competition, from not being accepted.They’re trying to keep us from being hurt, but the truth is we hurt much more in the long run from not expressing ourselves.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying something new to deal with those worrisome voices.When my fears get triggered and I start looking around at what everyone else is doing, and worrying about how they will react to me, I catch myself and take a few deep breaths. I go to a “safe space” I’ve created in my head.

In my case, my safe space looks like a warm, farmhouse kitchen with lots of good stuff cooking. I imagine each of those voices as belonging to a little rascally kid, who comes bounding into the kitchen from another room, making lots of noise and disturbing my activities. Before, I’d let these rascals get the better of me – ruin my whole dinner, get jam on the walls, throw pots around – but now I redirect the scene.

I’ve started making sure I always have a plate of biscuits ready on the counter for those little guys. When they come careening in unexpectedly, now they just grab a biscuit off the counter and rush headlong out through the screendoor to play. They might make noise for a few seconds, but then they head elsewhere.

Silly visualizations aside, what this really means is that I am giving just enough attention to the scared voices to soothe them, and make them feel like their warnings have been heard, but I’m not letting them run the show or keep me from my creative work.  I let them in briefly, and then usher them away so that I can get on with it.

Is there a similar way you might redirect your internal, fearful voices?  Can you acknowledge them, thank them for their concern, and then let them go?