Amber Rae is the author of Choose Wonder Over Worry. She joins Charlie on the podcast today to talk about how worry shows up in our lives, and how we can convert our worry stories to wonder. This episode can be very helpful for creatives in the midst of finishing their best work, as they look at the patterns that come up when doing so, and how Amber herself worked through them as she was finishing her book.
[3:40] - Worry seems to be our natural state - we spend so much of our lives worrying, and we often make our decisions from a place of worry. Amber experienced this with the start of her book; she put off her book for several years because of insecurities and fears and doubts, and one day she had a wake up call that it was time to go all in on the book.
[7:50] - In their creative careers, many people reach a place that is really good, but there’s often fear that if you let go of the good things, that you either won’t replace them, or you have to face what you’ve been putting off. Amber was pursuing projects that she was good at, but they weren’t what she was here to do (write her book). She talks about the zone of excellence versus the zone of genius.
[10:15] - Amber had an interesting experience during the course of writing her book. Rather than starting with a structure, she started with the stories she was aching to tell. Throughout the writing process, she had to cultivate awareness of when her thoughts were coming from a place of worry. She used her worries as fuel for what she wrote about and also reacted to her own stories and experiences during the writing process.
[16:55] - The idea of choosing wonder over worry isn’t just about coming from worry, but there’s a deeper meaning of getting curious and wondering about your worries. When we engage with our worries, we can figure out if they will serve us or hold us back.
[19:00] - Choose Wonder Over Worry talks about different kinds of worries, and the different ways that worry shows up. One of the big ways worry shows up is time. Instead of “I don’t have enough time,” it’s more about noticing what your priorities are. Another big way is “the myth of not enough,” where we feel we are not enough or don’t have enough to do what we want to do.
[21:45] - Charlie talks about the difference between aspirations and priorities. Oftentimes, we think our aspirations are our priorities, when really our priorities lie elsewhere. Being aware of this difference can guide our actions. More often we find out that our actions don’t necessarily reflect our priorities, even if our talk does. Wondering about our actions is just as important as wondering about our worries. Understanding what’s motivating our actions provides an opportunity for self-compassion.
[26:55] - The top three worries that require the most intentionality for Amber are 1. “I’m not good enough” 2. “Will they hate it?” and 3. “Can I handle how people respond to this?” The work is not to get rid of our worries, but to learn how to have a relationship with these things. Amber focuses her stories on some of the low points and the struggles, and with that comes a fear of vulnerability.
[31:15] - Amber has also faced some rejection during this whole process. Rejection triggers a part of our brain that is responsible for physical pain. In any creative process, each stage is going to have that question of rejection. The question becomes how do we build resilience, and keep showing up when we hear “no?”
[35:10] - We spend a lot of time trying to make our naysayers happy, and not focusing on the majority of people who support it (including ourselves). As artists, we need to get to the point where we can understand that sometimes our art may not reach certain people and that’s okay. There is also a balance where we can accept honest feedback about our work. As an artist, find people that you trust to give you honest feedback about how to make things better.
[38:30] - Throughout her writing process, Amber had a set of friends that she trusted who she would give the work to to provide feedback. You have to find who these people are for you, and be open to what they have to say. Equally important is to take what resonates with you to make changes that fit the integrity of your project.
[41:55] - Amber wrote her book in two and a half months. When she got the deal, they gave a deadline, and she went to Bali and shut out the world. The structure of the book emerged through characters she met herself as she was writing the book.
[45:15] - For many creatives, their practices involve making concepts or ideas tangible and concrete in some way. Getting the stories out into the world and externalizing our ideas helps free up brain space.
[47:18] - The sweet spot for Amber’s creative work is getting to a point where success or failure doesn’t matter, but it’s more about the focus on the journey of learning. This focus seems to be more productive rather than chasing a certain outcome.
[48:00] - Right now, Amber’s biggest worry is that she will be abandoned, because she doesn’t have many successful models of relationships in her life, and she began to experience that with her fiance. She’s been working through this by realizing that she will never leave herself. So many of our fears and worries and doubts are like small children inside of us that are longing for our attention, compassion, and love. It is important to love these parts of ourselves and give ourselves comfort and compassion rather than shame.
[51:25] - Amber’s invitation and challenge for listeners is to notice when you’re approaching a situation or opportunity with worry or wonder. Be aware of your story and the thoughts you’re having and where you’re coming from. Notice, and cultivate your awareness.
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