Friendly Fear

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”  -Steven Pressfield  

In grade school, as a young singer, I sang with joy, devoid of inhibition, in the safety of my own bedroom; but, when placed in front of an audience, my whole body would shake with an unbridled terror. My brow would furrow as I struggled to keep my voice from cracking under the pressure. I’d wrack my brain to remember all of my entrances and lyrics. Sweating profusely and sick to my stomach, I’d somehow survive the performance, only to go home and fall into a sea of tears, cracking under all of the pressure and tension. The intensity was so great that I threatened to stop singing hundreds of times. During my undergraduate and graduate studies, I read volumes of self-help books: hypnotherapy, how-to books, psychology, meditation, and the like. When it came time to perform, none of these tools helped. I was too afraid of fear. It crippled me. It set me up for failure. 

It was only years later, after intensive yoga study, reflection, and self-study that I started to question my relationship with fear. I began to change my approach to the natural adrenaline and “fight or flight” mode and I began to fight rather than try to fly. I started to lean into the fear, to enjoy the extra burst of energy that it could provide, to recognize how working with my fears every day could help me to grow and achieve. In short, I began to be grateful for my fears. By making fear my friend, I was able to control and focus that energy rather than let it control me. Suddenly, my performances were a joyful experience, where I could reach my peak state. I enjoyed new focus and courage in my auditions and flexibility in the rehearsal hall. Everywhere I brought my good friend fear, I found success. It gave me the extra energy and focus that I needed to achieve at my highest possible level. 

The performing world is a fearful place. Each time we open our mouths to sing, each time we play a note, each time we get on stage or enter the audition hall, we have a chance to greet our fears head on. Make sure you greet it as a friend rather than a foe. 

 #detoxyobody challenge day 28: paschimattanasana. Sometimes you need to bury your head in the grass and hide from the world… But then remember to get up and conquer your fears once again. 


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