I am in a funny situation. Here I am studying music – I’m a decent singer and an even better guitarist – and have lots of my own tunes that my friends think highly of. I’m just scared to get out there and perform. I’ll say it before you do: I might be hiding behind my education! How does someone like me actually conquer their fear and get out there?
–Sleepless with fear in Seattle.
Hello, Sleepless :)
There are many techniques for reducing fear and managing anxiety. I describe almost a score of them in my books Mastering Creative Anxiety and Performance Anxiety: breathing techniques, cognitive techniques, relaxation techniques, discharge techniques, disidentification techniques, reorienting techniques, and many more.
But here let me focus on just one: the most important one of all. That’s to “flip your calmness switch” and decide to become a calmer person.
In order to do this you create a mental picture of that switch, you say to yourself something along the lines of “I genuinely want to feel calmer,” and you mentally picture flipping that switch in the direction of calmness.
Our anxiety, our agitation, and our racing brain prevent us from living the life we would like to live.
We can’t visit our favorite faraway places if we are too afraid to fly. We can’t live our dream of performing if we are too anxious to perform. We can’t make our best decisions if our brain is racing and our nerves are jangling.
Achieving more calmness will help you achieve all your mental health goals—and will get you performing!
In order to flip your calmness switch, say the following to yourself, “It is odd but I think I get this idea, that I can become genuinely calmer just by deciding to become calmer.”
When something happens to raise your anxiety level today, whether it’s a problem at work, something you encounter in the news, some family matter, some fear about performing, or one of your chronic pestering thoughts, take a deep breath and say, “No. I am practicing calmness. I’ve flipped my calmness switch and I can deal with this calmly.”
This is a great way to manifest your love for yourself and to more powerfully stand behind your own life purpose choices.
When we allow ourselves to be pulled around by the nose by our own frayed nerves, boiling blood, and racing brain, we aren’t able to be the person we intend to be.
More calmness is a bedrock value that promotes all the other values we want to uphold. Calmness alone will not keep you from overeating, improve your relationship with your mate, or ward off a drinking binge—or become a bold performer and a bold advocate for your career.
But it is a really valuable first step and may make all the difference between you succeeding or not succeeding in life and as a performer.
Eric Maisel, widely regarded as America’s foremost creativity coach, is the author of 40+ books, including Coaching the Artist Within and Secrets of a Creativity Coach. His latest is Life Purpose Boot Camp and later this year The Future of Mental Health appears. To learn more about Dr. Maisel’s books, trainings, and services please visit www.ericmaisel.com