Dance Advice | Dance FAQ’s | Facing Your Fears

Dance Advice | Dance FAQ’s | Facing Your Fears

Facing Your Fears

I thought I’d cover some things not in my book but that might be helpful for dancers, artists and creative people. A little bit of motivation, help or positivity for you. Now … let’s talk about YouTube! No, no, don’t worry … I’m not going on about you subscribing, liking and sharing … no no. Now! Believe me when I say this … YouTube … you can find some extremely profound wisdom on YouTube! It’s not ALL toxic comments and nonsense! The YouTuber Rob Robinson737 wrote the following extremely insightful comment underneath Massive Attack’s ‘Angel’ video, about three years ago:

The video is about running away from your fears, the longer you run away from them the greater they become until you reach a point from where you can no longer run as if there is no land left for you to run on and there it is your greatest fears stood there right in front of you, and then you realise that these fears are just an illusion and that you confront them head-on and then they are frightened of you at the moment you start chasing them.”

The video has almost 30,000,000 views and I encourage you to go and watch it. Massive Attack’s ‘Angel’ is from their Mezzanine album, released in 1998. The English trip hop group didn’t actually release their video at the time as told by the massiveattack website;

At the time of the single release of Angel, Massive Attack decided (for cited reasons as not capturing the mood of the song) to not use the already shot promo video for Angel (which had reputably cost £20,000 to shoot) to promote the single. For this reason, the video would remain unseen for over three years where it would finally see the light of day on the Eleven Promos DVD release.”

The video really captures, visually, the tragedy of not facing our fears head-on. We have a choice and once we face them, we realise that we are only running away from ourselves anyway. This process is actually called ‘exposure’. This exposure to your fears gradually can help you build a kind of resistance and lower anxiety until you can overcome said fear. Never be afraid of exposure. The great teacher Napoleon Hill said, “Fears are nothing more than a state of mind” and he was right. In fact, when you feel or can sense potential ‘exposure’ that is often the first place you should ‘go’ to grow and evolve. This is really expressed perfectly in ‘Angel’. With regard to fear, I actually mean unfounded fear. Or the fear of fear. For example, some fight or flight responses are perfectly reasonable and I am not talking about that kind of normal life-saving fear… I am talking about the different type of fear, the illegitimate one that is the fear of fear itself that we run away from often in our lives. That is what needs to be faced directly to advance creatively and it is expressed extremely well by Massive Attack. Remember the words of the great Henry Ford:

One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

Other tips

If you need to seek professional help, absolutely do so!
If you need some help from a trusted friend feel free to ask for it.
Own your fears and face them head-on. They are part of your current personality.
Write down your fears and evaluate the risk level and logically analyse the potential consequences of taking the risk.
Reward yourself if you attempt to overcome it.
If you fail, do not blame yourself. Keep working at it because practice makes perfect and every time you fail you gain experience and are one step closer to resolution.

Scientific reasons to face your fears head-on

Paul W. Frankland and Sheena A. Josselyn wrote an article in Science magazine called Facing your Fears and they stated something very interesting;

“… treating no-longer-threatening situations as dangerous may be maladaptive and lead to anxiety disorders, including phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder. Central to many forms of therapy designed to tackle these anxiety disorders is the idea that to overcome fear, one needs to face it.” Maladaptive is defined as “not adjusting adequately or appropriately to the environment or situation”

So this means that scientifically speaking, facing your fears is the healthy thing to do because if you don’t it can lead to, as they clearly state, “anxiety disorders, including phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder”. So, not only is it the logical thing to do, but it is also healthy for you… and most often, easier than you suspect.

Your creative prime is on the other side of your fear

This is why an artist has to constantly push their internal and external boundaries to expand creatively. This is all part of the creative journey and nothing to worry about because it’s a never ending expansion. Every artist will have some kind of fear before they pass it and extend outside of their comfort zone. Once they reach their destination, it begins again… that’s just the way it is! It’s the same for us all. Once you understand this then the fear of fear fades. That means that your greatest painting, greatest composition or greatest work is just one step outside of your comfort zone, through the fear zone… it’s right there if you want it!