How Fear Keeps Us from Being Creative Decision Makers

    In 1990, I christened my new spontaneous method of painting No Fear (long before those two words became the hit of the advertising industry). At that time, I was using it as a self-motivator and a shield against my persistent inner critic.

    I even went so far as to have the term No Fear Artist trademarked twenty years later. It still is the most popular class I teach simply because it helps students, in both their lives and their painting, to get over the biggest fear out there: Fear of Change. The more they can embrace this fear, the more open to creative thinking they will be.

    Once a No Fear artist, always a No Fear Artist. Students will yell out "No Fear" if they hear even a slight hesitation from one who is afraid to try something new. The theory of No Fear is contagious and spreads rapidly, for one person reaps a lifetime of benefits not only in art but also in life.

    Creative problem solving is a skill that can be learned and put into practice in any dilemma no matter how complex. 

    It's simple but only after we diminish our fears. We can diminish our fears only after we embrace them.

    We are sidelined first and foremost by the mother of all fears: Fear of Change.  It's so easy to stay in our warm little comfort zone. We can even pace back and forth in there without much stress. If we stay there too long, however, we cannot grow, and we find the longer we put off change, the more difficult it is to do it.

    Too, the greater the change, the greater the fear.  For example, adding a room to a too small home is much less scary than building an entirely new house. Planting an herb garden is nothing compared to landscaping a front yard.

    Yet, these aren't really the hard changes, are they?  What about making the change involved in the decision to place your mother in an assisted living center? That may be a sizable change for her, but what if you were to allow her to move in with you? What about taking a child to karate? Easy, but what about the decision to take a child to a psychiatrist?

    Empty Nest is a scary change that is thrust upon parents as their last child leaves the roost, the fear of a hollow life once the children leave home. Luckily for us, we're not caught unaware. We know when the youngest is sixteen that it's time to take small steps to overcome this fear.

    Not me. From the time she was about nine or ten, our daughter let us know that she wanted to go to college somewhere in the mountains.  It didn't take us long to realize she meant out-of-state since the last time I looked, Louisiana was still pretty flat.  Within eight years, our daughter made her wish come true, but I hoped that one day she would return not necessarily to live with us but at least closer.

    Then again, think of how many young adults are returning home because they are just too afraid to face life on their own? No such luck. She has already graduated from college, married, birthed three wonderful kids and still lives and works in her college town in Tennessee. My husband and I had joined the ranks of the Empty Nesters.

    If I had not been in denial, I could have tackled this Fear of Change in small steps. Instead when it finally dawned on me that she was not going to move back home, my steps had to be quick and anxious, do-or-cry decision-making.

    Yep…even though I teach No Fear to artists every week, I still challenge fear daily, yet now I’m better able to tackle it without melting into a boo-hoo mess.