I sat down to write a singing-related newsletter but all the topics kept falling flat (no offense, singing, I still love you, but that’s the truth).
At this moment, on the verge of 2017, my mind and heart are seated on the metaphysical equivalent of a Six Flags rollercoaster.
There’s a fine line for me to walk with respect to divulging personal thoughts. I don’t want to veer too far off topic — you most likely found me online and enjoyed my singing lessons and info, and Dr. Phil moments might not be your thing —
But what the hell. Maybe we can relate to each other and stuff. 🙂
Accomplishment scares the sh*t out of me.
On the Grand Staircase of Life (I don’t even know what that means? But let’s embrace this architectural metaphor for a second) I do this thing where I painstakingly climb to a new, higher step, look around, smile, feel the accomplishment, take a breath….
…then feel the blistering altitude, the ensuing vertigo, clutch my pearls*, start screaming “It’s too high! It’s just…too…high!” and summon all my willpower / recite every motivational mantra / close my eyes and sway softly in order not to tumble straight back down.
(*I don’t actually wear pearls.)
Bottom line: fear makes every accomplishment feel risky.
I’m pointing this out because this is way more subtle than I, and maybe you, ever thought. I always thought fear was OBVIOUS, like a villain in a movie. Sneering and greasy and wearing dark clothing and speaking in vague accents.
But in real life, fear works undercover. Fear stages subconscious sabotage. Fear dresses up as “common sense.”
Fear isn’t a monster. Fear is familiar. Fear tells us:
“If I [ACCOMPLISH X] then there are downsides. Better stay safe.”
“And if I DON’T [ACCOMPLISH X] then there are actually many benefits! Life can stay warm, fuzzy, comforting, and status quo.”
Here are some examples taken from “Fel’s Fear Brain,” a mysterious and baffling entity:
- “If I become more confident, then there are actually downsides. I could turn off my friends, my customers, my family, and be a lonely, confident weirdo.”
- “If I DON’T become more confident, at least I know I’m taken care of, and life will stay normal and steady and familiar.”
- “If I perform more, then there are actually downsides. I’ll seem like a stuck-up, attention-seeking nut. Worse, I could make a fool of myself, and invite ridicule, and make people think I *think* I’m so amazing, when in reality, I’m not!”
- “If I DON’T perform more, at least I can stick to what’s working, and not suffer any embarrassment or revelations that I actually suck.”
- “If I grow my business, then there are actually downsides. I’ll lose touch with the people I love (you, my students), I won’t have any time, I will stop being genuine, I will become a greedy freak, I will grow a goatee and laugh maniacally.”
- “If I DON’T grow my business, I won’t have to worry about more responsibility, or any competition, or any other conflicts. I’ll stay small but familiar, and unthreatening.”
….I think you get the idea?
But even though I’m shaken and wary, I feel hopeful. Why? Because I’m NOTICING this dynamic.
Noticing fear’s subtle UPSIDE/DOWNSIDE tactic is the first step to moving beyond it.
So I’m asking you to ask yourself, on the verge of 2017, to do the same.
Time to engage in a long, hard, intimate, maybe even sexy stare at your fears.
- What am I holding myself back from doing?
- Is it…singing more?
- Making time for myself?
- Taking care of my body and exercising?
- Performing in front of others?
- Auditioning for that local musical?
- Speaking in front of coworkers?
- Giving a lecture at a nearby school?
- Asking for a raise?
- Changing careers because WHAT THE HELL?
- Starting my own online business?
- Writing that love letter?
Fear will act accordingly. It will show you all the DOWNSIDES of acting up. It will also show you all the BENEFITS of staying exactly as you are.
But we know better now, don’t we?
When you’re on the “Grand Staircase Of Life” (lol this metaphor), and you summon the courage to take one step higher, before you leap back down, take a pause and remember:
- You are not alone. We are all secretly worried, wondering, seeking, embarrassed, and winging it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
- Acting with faith and courage is (1) easy to write in a social media quote, (2) really f*cking hard to do in real life. (“Leap and the net will appear” — YEAH OKAY HOW ABOUT NO?) 🙂 But it will get easier.
- Have patience through the fear. If you can feel fear or discomfort and not run from it, often you can literally change the feeling. A daily meditation practice (or daily singing practice! for many, singing = meditation) can help you hone in on these fearful feelings, and ultimately release them.
- You are contributing to a higher good. When we elevate our state, and move toward joy, we elevate the mood of the planet. (Example: “Auditioning for that local musical means I will move closer to my dream of performing, which means I will live with more joy, which means I will encourage others to do the same.)
Here’s the moment where we all take a long, cleansing sigh.
This felt good to write. I hope it also felt good to read.
I want you to know that I’m here for you, and that each and every one of us has a vital mission to move toward joy and the highest version of ourselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean the big bucks, or the best grades, or the best house, or the best resume —
It means having the strength to perceive fear, and take each new step anyway. It means having the courage and faith that we’ve all got each others’ backs.
I’m here for you. Thanks for being there for me.
P.S. Leave me a comment about anything at all. I’ll read every single one.