“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
~ Do you live with “What if” thinking?
~ Do you avoid an outrageous life because of what others might think of you?
~ Do you always seem to be getting ready to start? “Tomorrow… Someday.”
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you are not alone. Most of my coaching clients report being afraid to go for their dreams out of fear that they would look foolish, make a mistake or be rejected. In fact, I used to struggle with very similar feelings and fears.
Whether you are getting ready to speak in front of a large crowd and are feeling anxious, have a big interview (or audition) coming up, are about to take a big risk in terms of a new creative project in your business or have an important performance that you are feeling anxiety about, your body, and especially your breathing, goes through many changes. Most of these changes, unfortunately, interfere with performing at your absolute best.
There is, however, a powerful skill that you can develop that is one of the most important tools you can use to control stress and performance anxiety. In my coaching practice I have found that there is no other single skill as effective as this one. This tool is free, can be practiced anywhere and at any time and is something that you have been doing your entire life.
The tool that I am describing is focused, abdominal breathing which can, when learned and applied conscientiously, help you maintain a relaxed state in your mind and body and allow you to function at a stress controlled level. Below are 6 steps that, if practiced and applied, will dramatically help you take control of the physical expression of anxiety.
losing night. Full house. Final performance of an outstanding original musical, “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round
,” written and directed by Vanda Eggington and presented by The American Coast Theater Company. I am seated with my wife Ramona in the second row, center, as we proudly watch our son Nicholas perform as part of a wonderful cast.
A revolving stage, painted as a map of the world, placed the actors at just the appropriate place for them to sing and dance each number. The stage turned every time, perfectly, during each performance for several weeks – until it abruptly stopped during the final act on the final night, leaving each actor out of position and facing every which way but the right one.
My heart sank, as I imagined each actor thinking frantically what their next move would be to adjust to their new stage setting.
What if what you believe (the thoughts that guide your daily journey in life) are lies? What if they are distorted versions about yourself?
“Don’t Stop Believing. Hold on to that Feeling”
The lyrics of the popular song by Journey unfortunately provide the listener with some pretty bad advice – depending on what you are believing!
In fact, if your personal belief system is based on negative thoughts about yourself, then I suggest that you most certainly do not want to “hold on to that feeling.”
If I grow up believing that I have little worth or value, this thought will continue to guide me later in life through a lack of self-confidence. If I do not believe that I am capable of great things in my business or creative life, then I will more than likely sabotage any chance of success in those areas.
A negative set of beliefs can lead to:
– Self-doubt (“Who do I think I am”)
– Feelings of Inadequacy (“I’m just not enough to produce work that matters”)
– Powerlessness (“I’ll never achieve what I want”)
– Shame (“I’m not worth it”)
– Feeling like a fraud (“I’m going to be found out and rejected”)
Attempt the impossible in order to improve your work.”
Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”
~ Walter Elliott
I couldn’t believe my ears as my friend shared his thoughts with me.
“I really hate chocolate … and, I can’t stand that movie Mary Poppins.”
What kind of sane person doesn’t love chocolate? And what lover of classic movies could possibly not enjoy watching Bert and Mary sing and dance?
I decided that he must have some type of severe emotional disorder (as a Psychologist I had to come up with some type of explanation to explain such a startling admission!).
For as long as I can remember, the taste of Hershey chocolate was an experience topped by very few things. As a child, the only thing better was to eat a chocolate bar while watching Mary Poppins – it was the absolute best.
Yet, recently, I read about how these two loves of my life almost never came to be – while also discovering two powerful examples about the power of persistence.
Do you strive for flawlessness in your art while setting excessively high standards for yourself?
Do you desire for your writing, art, business idea or performance to be perfect before you put it out to the world?
Do your critical self-evaluations and fears about what others will think stop you dead in your creative tracks and stuck in a no man’s land between your creative potential and discouragement?
It’s time to break out of prison.
Suzanne was desperate as she called my office. It had been many years since she had entered her prison of perfectionism and was desperate to see if I could help her break out.
An amazing French Horn player, Suzanne knew how to play all the correct notes and, although technically on the mark, was continually held back by her desire to perform perfectly while avoiding making a mistake.
In tears, she shared that she had tried almost everything in an attempt to break free, but nothing seemed to work.