Offer Fear a Place to Sit…and Let Creativity Come Out and Play!

Offer Fear a Place to Sit…and Let Creativity Come Out and Play!

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” ~ Charles Brower

During a recent playshop, we decided to offer Fear a place to sit. Fear’s presence needed to be acknowledged. It didn’t serve anyone to pretend it was not in the room. Fear, after all, is one of the great impediments to being playful and creative. We fear being judged, doing it “wrong”, looking too silly, failure etc. Fear doubts the innate artist within, demands perfection, and devises unnecessary plans to ensure we avoid unexpected pitfalls and looking “stupid”. It works us hard! Today’s kids have become so fearful of failing that they would rather succeed at fitting in than fail at standing out.

It wasn’t long after our playshop that I came across a Facebook post by Big Magic author Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote:

“A friend of this page named Charlotte Murphy sent me this photo (of the chair) the other day. She teaches art to fifth graders and she has found that already, many of them are too locked-down by fear to be creative. So, recently, she read them the section of BIG MAGIC where I talk about how fear is allowed to have a seat in the car, when we are being creative, but it’s not allowed to drive. The kids came up with the inspired idea that the art classroom should have a FEAR CHAIR, where fear will be allowed to sit – but not allowed to control everyone’s creative process. Each child wrote their fears on the chair, just to get them out. When it’s time to create, the kids now understand that they have to send their fear to sit in the FEAR CHAIR…and then they can get back to work. Notice that the kids don’t try to banish their fear (because we all know that’s impossible; fear always acts up and throws temper tantrums when we try to banish it) but they bravely give their fear a name, and then give their fear a nice, pretty, respectful chair to sit in. They acknowledge that fear will always be in the room…and then they get back to the business of making things, anyway.”

So, does fear need a place to sit in your life? Or maybe in the lives of your kids or students? What’s possible if a chair was offered?

PS…look closely at the image and you’ll see fears ranging from “tests” to “football”!

About the author: Vince Gowmon presents keynotes and playshops and offers somatic Life Coaching and Counselling in person, on Skype and over the phone. For more of his writing,  to his free e-newsletter. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Related training:
Remembering to Play ~ Inspiring Joy, Freedom & Self-Care

Related reading:
Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children
Why Kids Need to Question, Not Conform ~ Unleashing Creativity and the Rascal Within

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