How can we relate to fear in a positive way to be more fully alive and creative?
What perspectives and advice do artists, psychologists and others have on how to manage anxiety and fear?
Elton John is among many performers who experience insecurity.
Actor Taron Egerton, who portrays Elton John in the 2019 biopic Rocketman, says “There’s a lovely quality of vulnerability that he has. Sometimes, even now, he can be uncertain of himself, even with all of that massive success and all of those accolades, all that universal acclaim.”
He adds, “It’s a weird kind of duality. He can be incredibly kind of gregarious and confident, but in the same instant he can also seem very vulnerable and shy.”
From article: Rocketman Star Taron Egerton Says Despite Fame, Elton John Can Still Be ‘Vulnerable and Shy’ By Gillian Telling, People, December 24, 2019.
In a 2012 E! News interview, Elton John recalled his struggles with being bullied, even as an adult megastar.
“It was about control and them being able to keep me under their thumb. And I was the perfect candidate for it. Even though I was famous and a big deal, it doesn’t matter, it’s who you are underneath that, and I was always kind of shy and intimidated.”
Psychotherapist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
In one of her articles on her site, Creative Minds Psychotherapy, she notes:
As a creative or a performer you know too well that moment when you have to ‘show up!’
Perhaps it’s right when you step onto the stage or when you are about to present your creative ideas to a room packed with important people.
It’s that moment when you almost feel drunk on the cocktail of your emotions – a mix of fear and courage at the same time, flooding all that you are.
This mix of fear and courage can take you right to where you hope to be – that emotional space where your feelings blend just beautifully in a powerful mix, you flow into your performance.
As matter of fact, it feels so right that you are not scared anymore.
You don’t feel like you have to prove anything.
You just create or perform… your audience is moved by you.
In such genuine creative and performing moments, fear and courage become one, dancing together in harmony.
Fear and courage coexist in a intimate relationship, working together toward helping you accomplish your goals, hopes, dreams…
They help you face challenging situations like auditions, presenting your script, or stepping onto the stage.
The intimate relationship between fear and courage
In these moments of ‘showing up,’ you need your fear to ignite your courage and you need your courage to face your fears.
Fear and courage are like yin and yang – complementary, interconnected, and interdependent.
They need one another to exist. Their dynamic interaction helps you to face the world, grow, and change.
Every time you face a challenging moment – an audition, a new show, presenting your creative ideas – and you succeed, you develop this internal knowing about how to face a challenge.
See much more in her article
Bullying impacts so many people, and can affect how we experience and deal with emotions, including fear.
J.K. Rowling was teased about her name, with schoolmates calling her ‘Rowling Pin,’ she says.
“I know what it is like to be picked on, as it happened to me, too, throughout my adolescence.
“Being a teenager can be completely horrible…I wouldn’t go back if you paid me.”
From my article J.K. Rowling: an ordinary and extraordinary childhood.
Actor Eva Longoria has talked about being bullied by a co-worker when working on ‘Desperate Housewives.’
She reveals how much it affected her, and how her co-star Felicity Huffman helped:
“I dreaded the days I had to work with that person because it was pure torture.
“Until one day, Felicity told the bully, “enough” and it all stopped.
“Felicity could feel that I was riddled with anxiety even though I never complained or mentioned the abuse to anyone,” Longoria continued.
“I know I would not have survived those 10 years if it wasn’t for the friendship of Felicity.”
From Eva Longoria Details Being ‘Bullied’ By Desperate Housewives Co-Worker on Set: ‘It Was Pure Torture’ By Michael Ausiello / September 7 2019.
Other actors who have been bullied include Zooey Deschanel, Lily Cole, and Viola Davis.
Lady Gaga was even thrown into a trash can.
She said, “I was called really horrible, profane names very loudly in front of huge crowds of people, and my schoolwork suffered at one point.
“I didn’t want to go to class. And I was a straight-A student, so there was a certain point in my high school years where I just couldn’t even focus on class because I was so embarrassed all the time.
“I was so ashamed of who I was.”
From my article Creative People, Trauma and Mental Health.
Video: Top 10 Celebrities Who Were Bullied at School
The video caption notes “Even famous people have a hard time in school dealing with bullying, such as Eminem, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Ryan Gosling, and Jennifer Lawrence.
“Celebrities such as Christina Hendricks, Christian Bale, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Jackie Chan may now be beloved mega-stars, but they had struggles in school and have been outspoken about their experiences with being bullied.”
What we call fear may really be excitement: emotional and physiological arousal.
Creativity coach and author Eric Maisel notes it can sometimes be hard to distinguish nervous tension from anxiety or fear:
“Part of the confusion is that ‘life energy’ in the form of hormones like adrenaline are necessary, so it is easy to confuse ‘enthusiasm’ with ‘anxiety,’ since both have a real (and similar) hormonal edge to them.”
One example of this may be Jennifer Lawrence, who won a 2014 Golden Globe for the movie “American Hustle.”
She said in her acceptance speech:
“I don’t know why it’s so terrifying; it’s obviously a good thing.
“I don’t know why I’m so scared. I don’t know why I’m shaking so much.”
She joked to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which confers the awards), “Don’t ever do this again.”
From my article Living and Creating: Fear Is Not A Disease.
Dr. Maisel has addressed creative anxiety and fear in a number of his writings.
He also provides a number of courses and books online – see article:
Eric Maisel, PhD is author of more than 50 books, and his interests include creativity, the creative life, and the profession of creativity coaching, which he founded.
He leads creativity workshops in places including Paris, London, Rome, Dublin, Prague, San Francisco, and New York.
About his online teaching classes and programs (the image shows some of them), he notes:
“I want to share with you the ideas, lessons, tactics, and strategies that I’ve learned over the years that I know work.”
See much more in the article.
How can we overcome self-doubt?
“Feelings happen. Doubt happens.
“What will you do with that story your brain is telling you?
“Will you buy in to it?
“Or will you observe it, acknowledge it, and let it pass? The choice is always YOURS.”
Those quotes are from the caption for a photo on the Facebook page of Mel Robbins.
See videos and more in article:
video : Fear and imagination
A page on the site of Neurogym notes:
“Fear is nothing more than emotion fueled by imagination.
“Actual impending danger is different, because it’s real. Fear is really a choice.”
NeuroGym presents “Winning The Game of Fear” – a free webinar by John Assaraf, the Founder and CEO.
Register for any of these free NeuroGym webinars:
Brain-A-Thon/Game of Money
Winning the Game of Weight Loss
Winning the Game of Fear
Learning to navigate our fears
John Assaraf says:
“I use this analogy for some of my business coaching and of course it applies to every day life as well:
“When we get caught in life’s storm, fear begins to set in if we do not know how to handle the inclement weather.
“Great captains learn to use the wind to fill their sails, not destroy them. You can learn to be a great captain of and for yourself.”
See much more in article:
How to Reduce Anxiety and Fear With NeuroGym programs by John Assaraf.
Thinking we are “not ready” can fuel anxiety and fear.
Hugh Laurie notes “Now is as good a time as any.”
He says, “It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready.
“I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything.
“There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now.
“I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something — I’m not. I’m not a crazed risk taker.
“But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”
– Hugh Laurie in article 6 Famous Artists Talk About What It’s Like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty, by James Clear.
“Creativity is like chasing chickens” – illustrator, artist, and author Christoph Niemann.
[Photo is from article A visit to Christoph Niemann’s studio, where he’s “making imperfections fun”]
In her article Transcending Fear in the Creative Process: 5 Timeless Insights (The Atlantic SEP 12, 201), Maria Popova includes this quote, and continues:
“But sometimes it can feel like being chased by chickens — giant, angry, menacing chickens.
“Whether you’re a writer, designer, artist, or maker of anything in any medium, you know the creative process can be plagued by fear, often so paralyzing it makes it hard to actually create.
“Today, we turn to insights on fear and creativity from five favorite books on the creative process and the artist’s way.”
Books she mentions and quotes from include “Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by artists David Bayles and Ted Orland, and “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” by Steven Pressfield.
For these books and many more, see list (in my Amazon storefront ‘Books for creative people’) Emotional health – Mastering Fear and Anxiety.
A number of actors say they feel insecure at times about their talents, their careers and other parts of their lives – even people who are acclaimed and rewarded for their creative work.
Kate Bosworth thinks “all actors are insecure..
“I certainly am… I think almost all artists are insecure.
“I don’t ever watch myself and think, ‘That was great, I hit it out of the park!’ Never…
“One of the things I love most about this job is that I don’t feel like you can ever master it.
“I think you’re always learning and you’re always growing, and even when you think you’re at the top of your game, there’s always something else that you can do and learn.
“If I wanted to fall into a niche where I knew I was really good at something, I could do that and I could feel secure there.
“But I don’t want to do that, I want to do things that challenge me, that I will be scared doing, because I’m not the best at it.”
From article Actors and Insecurity.
There are, of course, many ‘flavors’ of fear – and sometimes fear can help motivate us.
In an interview, actor Sophia Lillis (It; Sharp Objects) was asked, “What inspires you?”
“Fear of failure. When you work on a film, there’s a lot at stake.
“The director’s vision, the other actors, a lot of money.
“I just want to do a good job and not let everyone down.”
(From Issue mag. interview.)
Fear and confidence
Lily Sullivan, like many actors and other artists, has talked about struggling with confidence.
“There’s always pressure. In my job, I have to be vulnerable and re-create moments that people do in private…I definitely battle with being confident.
“But, in a way, I can now recognize and still do what the fear is telling me not to do.”
She says her character Miranda Reid in the TV series ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock‘ – set in 1900 – has helped her find more courage.
“Miranda doesn’t accept the expectations of women in that time…
“But after filming Picnic, I’m so grateful for who I am as a woman in 2018, because of how far society has come.”
(Australian actress Lily Sullivan on facing her fears in new series ‘Picnic At Hanging Rock’, Now To Love, May 16, 2018.)
Another actor in the series is Natalie Dormer.
An interview article notes she “revealed she had no confidence during her teenage years and did not become comfortable with herself until she was in her 20s.”
She said: “I was incredibly geeky and had no sense of style.
“I came out of my shell a bit when I was doing my A-levels and found drama, but I really didn’t get into my stride until I was pushing my late 20s.”
(From article Natalie Dormer ‘profoundly bullied’ at school, bangshowbiz 7/1/2018.)
Enjoy this outstanding series: Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon Prime)
More information and help:
See the page: Emotional Health Resources
Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional balance and enhance your creative life.