There’s a voice in my head that tells me to stay in my comfort zone … that it’s too scary to step out into the public and share myself with the world. It’s my Creative Fear that tells me that if people don’t like what I have to say, they won’t like me. And then I’ll be left alone and abandoned like a sad little puppy at the dog pound.
This is just one of the Creative Fears that I recently wrote about. But what happens when that voice comes from outside of your head? What happens when someone you know (and maybe even love) gives voice to all of those fears?
Fear Junkies are the people in your life who feed those fears you already have. This time I wanted to focus on a particular kind of Fear Junkie, one that I have had experience with in my own life.
A ‘Dream Drainer’ is someone who loves you and wants the best for you. They don’t want you to become vulnerable, to be hurt or to face rejection. Instead of supporting your dreams, Dream Drainers end up feeding your creative fears.
I mentioned that Dream Drainers were something I was familiar with in my own life. When I was young that person was my mom. She didn’t want me to choose a creative lifestyle for myself. She wanted me to have financial success with the fewest bumps and bruises along the way.
It’s important to understand that my mom didn’t intend to be hurtful with what she said. She has only ever wanted what she felt was best for me. Unfortunately, even though it was coming from a place of love, her negative reactions were holding me back … I took her beliefs on as my own and let them drain my creative dreams!
The life of a creative person is so hard —who would want a life like that?
Dream Drainers might be speaking from their own experience, or they might be making assumptions based on what they think they know about doing creative work. It might be the person that you’ve confided in — and because they love you, because they want you to succeed and have all the best in life, and because of their own fears of and preconceived ideas of creative people — they end up becoming Dream Drainers.
A Dream Drainer could also be completely unaware of your creative ambitions and unknowingly make a remark that stops you in your tracks, echoing and validating the fears that are already running through your brain.
It’s important to recognize what a Dream Drainer sounds like. There might be someone in your life like this that you’ve never recognized until now.
“Are you sure you want to do that?”
“What makes you think you can do that?”
“What if you make a fool of yourself?”
“What if you lose it all?”
So what can you do if you have one of these people in your life?
#1 Choose how much you share with them
Don’t give Dream Drainers the opportunity to drain your energy and enthusiasm!
You can still share with them. But instead of telling them while you’re in the fragile planning stages, you might choose to share your project only when the most scary part of the process is over for you. Imagine how you might react if they made dream draining comments instead of supporting you the way that you long for them to do. Would it stop you?
Instead of expecting them to understand or change the way they interact with you, you can take ownership of the situation and decide on the timing that’s best for you. You might even wait until your creative project is ready to be shared with the world before you share it with this person.
#2 Surround yourself with supportive people
If you have a negative encounter with a Dream Drainer, actively look for the support you need to counteract that experience. Jump on the phone or send a text message to someone who is totally supportive of your dream. If you are working with a coach or Mentor, this would be a great person to reach out to — but really, it could be anyone who will cheer you on!
#3 Tell them what you need
The first thing to know is that this step might not work with every Dream Drainer — but if you want to share your work with a Dream Drainer and you’re concerned that they won’t give you the support you need — then you can always ask for it!
Sit down with them and explain what type of support you need. You could say something like, “I want to share something important with you, and I’ve already decided to do it. I’m not asking for your opinion. What I really need is for you to cheer me on, because I’m really worried that I might give up.”
Again, you are taking ownership of the situation and supporting yourself around your creative project. And the more you support yourself, the more support you’ll be able to get from others. By being proactive and responsible for your needs, you step into your creative purpose from an empowered place (even if it feels a little strange or uncomfortable at times). It all starts with you … and that’s truly wonderful news, because it puts you in the driver’s seat!