Fighting Our Biggest Adversary: Fear.

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Recently, a fan asked me how I deal with fear. “Fear is our biggest adversary. How do you shun fear to get to where you are going?  Everyone has to wake up each morning and get on with it. What is your internal talk?”

This question reaches so much further than creativity. It really goes to the crux of how we live our lives! But it’s creativity that has helped me find my own personal answer to this question, so let me share that with you.

Every day for the past 19 years, I’ve been employed as a staff songwriter for a publishing company on Music Row. That means that 5 days a week for the past 19 years, I’ve been showing up at the office to write a song. At least one song…sometimes two…occasionally three. Every day. Usually it’s with other songwriters: sometimes friends, sometimes complete strangers. Sometimes we walk into the room equipped with ideas we’ve collected in advance, but often we pull them out of the thin air around us. One way or another, 99.9% of the time we leave the office having birthed a song.

I say “birthed”, because it feels much like that. It feels like we’re delivering something into the world that came THROUGH us, but wasn’t necessarily of our own creation.

Why do I feel that way? Because as a human being, I couldn’t possibly come up with a new and unique musical idea every day for 19 years of my life. But what I CAN do is tap into a deep, universal, magical “Source” that whispers little instinctive ideas in my ear. I’ve learned to trust that Source, to listen for it even in the midst of self-doubt, and to value what it whispers – even when I don’t understand what it’s saying – enough to speak those whispers out loud to my collaborators.

And when I do that, something amazing happens. That whisper leads to something beautiful, something unique, and sometimes even something profound. That kernel of an idea gets picked up, turned over like a rock in our hands, and held up to the light until we discover the gem inside it just waiting to be cut out and polished. But the seed of that idea is not from me. It’s “birthed” through me, but it’s not from me.

“Sure,” you say, “you can SAY it’s not from you, but how can you be so sure?” Well, here’s why I’m sure. Because after speaking those little whispers out loud every day for 19 years, at least 40% of the time my collaborator has done a double take, looked at me with disbelief, and said “I was just thinking the same thing!”…or “I just wrote that idea down on the page in front of me 30 seconds ago”…or “I just heard someone say that same phrase this morning”…or “That just happened in my life and I’ve been thinking about writing about it!”…or “How did you read my mind?”

Not only that, but on several occasions I’ve noodled around with a melody or progression before meeting my cowriters, and then walked into the room to find them playing that same melody or progression. It’s uncanny. It’s too much coincidence to be possible.

I’m sure these things don’t come from us because there’s just far too much synchronicity for them to be anything but universal. They’re coming from a Source that we are ALL tapped into. You can call it God, you can call it the Universe, you can call it whatever you like. Creatives like myself have trained ourselves to listen for that Source more than others, but we ALL have it inside us. We are all creative on some level, whether we choose to believe it or not. (If you think you’re not creative, I dare you to go back in time and put a box of Crayolas in front of your kindergarten-age self and see what happens. You might not be in touch with it right now, but it’s there.)

“So what does that have to do with fear?” you ask.

Well, if we each have a connection to that Source…then we each have a connection to something intelligent, universal, magical and divine within us.

That means YOU. You have a piece of divinity shimmering inside you.

That means you DESERVE good things. That means you are not “less than” anyone else. That means you are a piece of magic, and thus worthy of the wonderful. 

The best weapon against fear is knowing that you’re magic…you’re sacred…you’re an instrument of something greater than yourself. That means you’re safe, even if you fail. That means you have value inherently, no matter what anyone else thinks or how anyone else responds to what you do.

That means GO FOR IT. Dare to suck. Be vulnerable and authentic.

After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

*****

Interested in more behind-the-scenes musings about songwriting, creativity, the Nashville music biz and life in general, along with some free songs? Sign up for my email newsletter here.

 

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