Recently I went to a reception and talk by Elizabeth Gilbert in Denver. The reception before the event featured antipasto spreads, wine, and Elizabeth Gilbert. We got to meet Elizabeth Gilbert! Her demeanor was calm, genuine, and exuded friendliness. It has been a long time since I met a stranger (even though I have read every single one of her books) that was easy and happy and chatty in the first 5 seconds.
After the reception my friend and I settled into our seats. The stage was setup like living room so it felt like an intimate conversation. Elizabeth got right into it. She was not some peppy motivation speaker that was like do this and everything will be amazing and perfect. Rather, she just shared her personal story and spiritual journey and how she spent too much time pretending to be someone she was not. In all the beautiful words her thoughts on fear and creativity resonated most with me.
Gilbert said that fear can hold us back but that we don’t need to have this attitude of “I am going to kick in the butt” I am going to “overcome my fear!” The aggressive nature we have can be harmful. Fear keeping us back actually saves our lives. There is a purpose for it, like in an emergency, so don’t dismiss fear’s purpose. I used to give myself “mean pep talks” all too often and I felt sad, not motivated, after. I never thanked fear for how much it has helped me.
Elizabeth said to acknowledge fear for all that it has done for us. She said to thank it for keeping us safe and then gently remind fear that you will not be needing its services right now. I loved that she acknowledged that fear plays a role, but that it doesn’t need to overwork itself and dabble in all areas of our life.
Instead of taking the path of fear Gilbert argued for taking the path of creativity. She said the stakes are never as high as you think they are and that the worst case scenario is that you fail. She kept saying “No one is going to die over your mistakes.” (Unless you are a Doctor or something ;/)
I am going to take Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice. I will gently thank and then remind fear that I am doing okay, and don’t need its services at the moment.