Now that I no longer get hives when I think about my inbox*, I'm able to start processing the dozen browser tabs I've kept open for weeks, and oh man am I glad I didn't close the tab with astronaut Chris Hadfield's TED talk in it. If there's one person whose word should be gospel on the topic of addressing fear, it's this guy, who has, you know, floated around in space in a tin can transported there by a humongous ball of fire.
Hadfield implores us to examine our fears and figure out what's actually dangerous. “By looking at the difference between perceived danger and actual danger – where's the real risk? What is the real thing that you should be afraid of?”
Most of us don't have a real thing to be afraid of, do we? Most of us don't have to undertake, as part of our profession or the day-to-day workings of our lives, a 9-to-1 chance of dying. (And isn't one of Hadfield's points that if your passion is strong enough, taking that risk might well be worth it?)
When we talk about fear holding us back in the context of expression or creation, what we're really doing is choosing not to examine whether there's any real danger. (If you're reading this, you probably don't live in a place where an oppressive regime might storm your house and kill your family because you've decided to express yourself. What a blessing.)
“The danger is entirely different than the fear,” he says. How can we tease them apart for ourselves? How can we get to the heart of why we allow fear to inhabit a place that isn't dangerous?
Hadfield uses the common fear of spiders as an example, spelling out clearly that spiders are, with very rare exceptions, not at all dangerous. And so he suggests we start walking through spider webs, to train ourselves through experience that there is no danger, and therefore nothing to fear. “If you walk through a hundred spider webs, you will have changed your fundamental human behaviour.”
Imagine what we might accomplish – how many dreams we might realize, how many people we might touch, how much change we might affect – if we started walking through our creative spider webs.
Now let's stop imagining, and start doing.
* Sanebox. Seriously.