Whether You Think You Can, or Think You Can’t, You’re Right – Henry Ford
It’s that time of the year when we think about the year ahead, making resolutions and intentions. I like to take a personal inventory at this time, looking in areas of my life I could improve. That might be physical, i.e. losing weight, getting in better shape, or it could be spiritual. But what about taking an inventory in areas where I am not so fearless?
Several years ago I was reading a brochure about a group going to Machu Picchu and as I read through it, I began to cry. I had never consciously desired to go there nor had it ever crossed my mind. I loved to travel but going to Peru just wasn’t a place on my bucket list. I thought I must be really tired and put the brochure aside. Later, I pulled it out again. And mysteriously, as I read through it, I started crying once more. What the heck? I began to feel that I needed to go on that journey, billed as a Sacred Journey. I didn’t know a single person going, I had never been to a 3rd world country, I didn’t speak Spanish, but I knew I had to go, and did. It was one of the best experiences of my life which I wrote about in my book, Gifts of the Soul. Talk about being afraid, oh yes, all my fears came up before going and then while on the trip, I had to face my fear of heights and my fear of death.
In my past work as a psychotherapist, I worked often with client’s fears. They came in all areas and most were imagined fears, meaning not based in present time. Let me give a couple of examples. Let’s say you were bit by a dog as a child, and as an adult are afraid of all dogs. The reality is not all dogs will bite you. Or you were in a few bad relationships; therefore all relationships will hurt you.
Now as an artist and a teacher of art process, I run into fears all the time, such as, “I can’t draw, I am not good at creating my own art, I can’t this or that.” Some adults were told as children by teachers that they weren’t very good at art, or were criticized (made fun of) by a remarks said by others. I am always amazed at how many fears come up with the act of putting paint down on canvas. We get to meet these places in ourselves in the creative space. We meet these places within in which were dormant, underground, or “not me” as well.
We all have imaginary lines we are afraid of stepping out of, whether in art or in different areas of our lives. Stepping out of the box, painting out of the lines, surrendering our fears of ______ you name it -is hard. We are afraid of failure, afraid to feel disappointed, afraid to be criticized. Mostly, we are unwittingly afraid of our own inner critic, who took over for the parent, teacher or coach. (I realize that not all parents, teachers, or coaches are critical). But most likely you have run into and have been hurt by someone, somewhere, sometime that created a place within where you made a decision never to do that again.
This year, why not make an intention to face a fear? Take an action to nullify it? If there is a creative endeavor that you say you are not good at, why not try it, become good at it, or at least quiet that inner critic? Perhaps you are an accomplished artist. What about trying a different way of doing art? Do you paint from a photo, then paint without one. Becoming fearless in art making means to give yourself permission to try something new, to make ‘mistakes’, or to ruin a piece of paper or canvas. Now is the time to challenge yourself by taking it to a place you have never been or that you are not accomplished in. Become fearless!
Post Script: The piece in this blog called “Manifesting” is the first time I painted in Encaustic, which is painting with hot wax. I was shown how to use a blow torch to put a gorgeous shellac finish on it. A blow torch?? Yikes. I was afraid to use it, afraid I would torch something other than the art, afraid I would burn myself or burn the studio down. NOW, bring it on. I love working with the torch!
Until next time,