Coaching for Creatives | Let’s Talk About Fear


I’ve been thinking about fear a lot lately. It can be such a debilitating feeling and it’s the number one emotion my coaching clients would love to conquer.

“I want to be fearless”, they say.

Yeah, me too. That would be awesome. So let’s talk about fear and the process of being afraid. What exactly is fear? How do we overcome it to be the confident creative badasses we want to be? I have a few ideas:

Fear is actually anger / hate / insecurity / disconnection / unconsciousness / [you-fill-in-the-blank] in disguise.
Fear is so intangible – so I’ve found that replacing the word “fear” with something a little more specific can help identify what is actually being felt. And from there if I can see that what I’m actually feeling is disconnected I can strategize solutions for connection. If what I’m actually feeling is hate I can seek out a little compassion and love. It can be hard to cultivate courage when you don’t even know what you’re afraid of. So identify the fear by getting specific about what it actually is, brainstorm a solution, and voila: you’re a little less afraid.

Fear is the unknown.
One of the things that makes me the most afraid is uncertainty. Fear is a lack of clarity about what to do next. Fear is the worst case scenario. This kind of fear takes you out of the present moment. It sends you into a disaster scenario filled with failure. This kind of fear creates a picture perfect image of everything you don’t want to happen. But here’s the deal. It’s not true. Let me say that again: it’s not true. And it’s a waste of your imagination. When you start painting yourself a worst-case-scenario scene instead say “stop it” and begin to visualize the ideal outcome. Because here’s the deal – as a creative you’re probably already really good at bringing ideas, concepts, designs, sketches, etc. to life. Use that same skill to bring what you want to happen in life (vs. what you don’t want to happen) to fruition. It’s not just the power of positive thinking … it’s the power of creativity.

Fear is fuel. 
We all know that fear is an ingredient necessary for courage. In other words, you can’t be brave without being afraid. The most confident badasses you know are probably a little freaked out on a daily basis. But what makes them badass is their ability to cope with the fear. To push through it and take risks, create, and move forward anyway. So, I’ve always visualized fear as a roadblock. A hurdle to be conquered. But what if instead fear was visualized as fuel? What if you used fear as the fire to light your path instead of making it the fire you’re trying to put out? How can you transform the feeling of fear into something that energizes you to move forward? For me, I think it’s reminding myself of the hero’s journey. No protagonist goes without a challenge.

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This last year at Designer VACA over dinner a bunch of us creatives were challenged to answer the question “What is the biggest risk you know you need to take this year?” It’s a question that probably brings up a little fear – but with all of the points above in mind I’d love to ask you the same thing. What is the biggest risk you know you need to take? Where does the fear in that risk lie? How could you transform that fear into fuel? Let me know in the comments! 

Here’s mine: The biggest risk I’m taking this year is slowing down. I’m giving myself permission to focus on my family and not pour 110% of my energy into my work (as much as I love what I do). The fear is in missing out on business opportunities, growing my income, and becoming jealous of the other creative entrepreneurs I admire who are busting their own asses to change the world. I’m going to transform this fear into faith that I’ve set up my business to take care of itself (with the help from my team), and that the pay off for investing in the life stuff will bring immense joy to my home and create new opportunities, personally and professionally, that I could never have even imagined.

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P.S. If you like this post you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s 4 emails x 4 weeks (16 emails total) for just $40. Complete with worksheets, exercises, mantras, meditations, and to-dos for time management, decision-making, and strategies for living more of what you love – in work and life. You can learn more about what you’ll get and purchase anytime here.


  1. Amielle

    I always have to chuckle at myself a little bit. Some of the things I’ve done over the last four years have resulted in people asking me, “But weren’t you scared when you did that?” and I’m always confused because, why would I be? Why would I fear moving to Europe? Why would I fear living in a place where I barely know the language or the people? But as soon as it comes to practicing my Spanish on a waiter or introducing myself to new people, it wells up in my throat and I choke. Which makes absolutely no sense at all, but I realize that everyone has different things that cause that welling in the throat and I keep reminding myself of the Ambrose Redmoon quote, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” It doesn’t always work and I’m not always courageous, but that’s okay, too.

    • Oh, I love that quote. But I also love that you said this: “It doesn’t always work and I’m not always courageous, but that’s okay, too.”

      I forgot and wanted to reiterate in this post that it’s OKAY to be afraid (just like it’s okay to have a crappy day). Sometimes it’s a feeling we need … to simply be human. I think being afraid every once in a while can help us develop compassion and empathy – for ourselves and others.

      P.S. I think you sound pretty brave!

      • Robert shepherd

        I also believe that in utilizing fear and using it to do right.

  2. Alien Mind Girl

    In regards to your “slowing down” fear… I realize that we are totally different (and amazing!) people so I am not making any assumptions here, but I thought you might like to hear about something that I went through.

    I wonder if being “workaholic” has a genetic factor because many members of my family in that boat, and I was just as bad or worse than any of them. And I LOVED it. I could not remember existence in any other way. I thrive on risk, change, new experiences, and accomplishments… which manifested in being on the go all the time, since my kid years. (And by work I also include passionate hobbies such as working out, hiking, and doing performance art). Eventually I realized that my life was not in line with my priorities (no type of work can ever be the most important thing in my life), and even though I was happy, it was an unhealthy thing to do that had negative effects on myself and the people I love.

    So I challenged myself to a strict diet. Dieting did NOT make me happy. I strictly limited paid working hours to 40. Outside of 40 hours I was not allowed to require myself to be anywhere at anytime (ie, rehearsals, teaching, volunteering, etc) and I purged my hobbies. I focused 100% on slowing down, relinquishing my obsessive drive to accomplish, and focusing only on my true priorities. I was to do this and only this until living up to my own priorities came naturally. I was only to begin adding things back into my life when I felt I could stay true to my intentions to always make first things first without being seduced back into my old ways. I did not like it, but I knew I needed it.

    It was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was not fun. I became that “boring adult” I thought I never wanted to be. It took a long time to retrain myself… 2-3 years.

    It is probably the most important thing I have ever done. I learned more than I thought I would. I grew more than I thought I would. It would take a full essay to describe all I gained. I feel like I have finally grown up and graduated into the next stage of my life, and I am excited to put all this new knowledge and being into action; to make Stage Now the best one yet.

    My biggest and most rewarding adventure has literally been the challenge to have no adventures.

    • Oh, Heather! I always love hearing your thoughtful ideas.

      What I love about your comment is the acknowledgment that slowing down also takes effort, structure, and discipline.


  3. Raven

    This post hit home to me, not so much career-wise as personal life. Last year I took the biggest risk I ever have in my life. I was freaking scared to death! But I did it. And survived! But have been a bit paralyzed since then, trying to get used to the new life so I don’t make too many mistakes along the way. So you raised important questions for me…now what? I need to take that fear of the unknown and turn it into fuel so I can continue to push forward and make an amazing life for myself. Maybe my risks won’t be huge like last year, but smaller risks that will propel me forward, even if they’re scary. The end result will probably be amazing, and if I don’t take the risk, I’ll totally miss out. I don’t want to miss out!

    Thanks Kathleen!

  4. Amy

    I love how you are able to put your thoughts so clearly into words. I know I have said this before but so often when reading your posts I feel like you are talking directly to me or even reading my mind… I feel as though I could never express these/my thoughts as beautifully as you do but I aspire to and plan to practice in 2014 🙂
    You have inspired my biggest risk this year which is going to be to put myself out there, to look deeper inside myself and teach myself to express my truth beautifully and openly. Through this honesty I hope learn more about myself and what I want from this wild and precious life.
    Thank you x

    • Amy! What a compliment! I’m finally starting to feel like “A Writer” so feeling like I’m able to say what I mean and have it resonate means SO much to me.

      Just remember as you move into 2014 that putting yourself out there can look like a lot of different things. You can start small… dip your toes in the water before you dive in. Then practice… every single day.


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  6. Robert shepherd

    Fear is the opposite of love.perfected love casts out fear.

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