I’ve battled with painful anxiety for a couple of years now, but thanks to the support of some amazing friends (and Carl on guitar) I faced my fear and sang three songs at the local pub last weekend.
In response to some challenging life events I completely lost all of my confidence a few years ago. I was once a singer in a band and a performance poet, but all that became hazy history as I became committed to the belief that I wasn’t really worthwhile or even worth knowing.
Some tiny part of me wanted to fight against that belief, and I did so with prescribed medication, counselling and two different self esteem courses. I also had amazing support from friends and family. Lately I started to wish that I could rediscover that creative, performing side of my personality that I had lost somewhere along the way. I often go to my local open mic night and wish that it was me up there on the stage singing, but I also knew that it would scare the hell out of me. So how did I end up doing it, without totally freaking out?
- Good friends. Every time I doubted myself some really good friends would reassure me. Every time I worried too much I called someone and they put me back in touch with reality.
- Self hypnosis and meditation. I try to do one or the other every day, to calm the f**k down and reboot my confidence.
- Practice. If you’re going to do something that scares the hell out of you make sure you rehearse it first. If it’s not something you can practice at home try a mental rehearsal instead. Top athletes often use visualisation to practice achieving their goals. A mental rehearsal results in a better performance because the subconscious mind doesn’t differentiate between reality and an imagined scenario. (Think how your heart can race and the adrenalin gets going if you imagine something going horribly wrong – now turn that around and imagine it all going right!)
- Motivation. Remember the reasons why you are doing this. For me it was that I wanted to reconnect to the person that I used to be.
When I arrived at the pub it was so much busier than I imagined. I immediately thought, “I can’t do this!” – and considered walking out. As it was open mic night we had to put our names down and wait to be called. I waited for more than two hours with a nervous stomach ache. My supportive friends told me it was going to be OK.
When I finally got on the stage I was shaking with nerves, but I discovered that if I stared into the bright colourful lights I could avoid looking directly at the faces of the audience. During the first song I was excruciatingly nervous and shaky, but on the second song I got better. By the third song the audience was singing along!
After I came off stage is when I felt the rewards of what I had done. I felt so relieved that I had faced my fear and achieved something I’d been thinking about for such a long time. I shared my success on Facebook and out of many supportive comments this was one of my favourites, “Rock on sugar… Remember, when you feel fear creeping up inside…It’s really bravery bursting it’s way out.”
What would you do if you could turn your fear into bravery? Leave me a comment below.