As a creative or a performer you know too well that moment when you have to ‘show up!’ Perhaps it’s right when you step onto the stage or when you are about to present your creative ideas to a room packed with important people.
It’s that moment when you almost feel drunk on the cocktail of your emotions – a mix of fear and courage at the same time, flooding all that you are. This mix of fear and courage can take you right to where you hope to be – that emotional space where your feelings blend just beautifully in a powerful mix, you flow into your performance.
As matter of fact, it feels so right that you are not scared anymore. You don’t feel like you have to prove anything. You just know… your audience is moved by you and what you create.
This genuine creative moment proves that fear and courage can become one, dancing together in harmony. Yes, fear and courage coexist in a intimate relationship, working together toward helping you accomplish your goals, hopes, dreams… They help you face challenging situations like auditions, presenting your script, or stepping onto the stage.
The intimate relationship between fear and courage
In these moments of ‘showing up,’ you need your fear to ignite your courage and you need your courage to face your fears.
Fear and courage are like yin and yang – complementary, interconnected, and interdependent. They need one another to exist. Their dynamic interactions help you to face the world, develop, grow, and change.
Every time you face a challenging moment – an audition, a new show, presenting your creative ideas – and you succeed, you develop this internal knowing about how to face a challenge.
But things don’t always go well. You fear and courage don’t always dance together harmoniously.
For many reasons, your fear takes over sometimes. Maybe you notice someone looking at you with doubts. Maybe your mind is full of thoughts about how you could fail or make a mistake. Maybe an old insecurity is hijacking you from the present moment, keeping you from connecting with your abilities and talents. Or maybe you just have a bad day – like any human being – your aren’t able to face your fear from that place of confidence and strength. In moments like these, fear can take over so fast… You find yourself into this empty, lifeless, and anxious place – leaving you wondering if people can see how scared you are, making you even more paralyzed by your fear.
When your fear takes over, it is hard to find your courage. Your fear-courage relationship is out of synergy, and that harmonious relationship seems like a distant memory. Instead of living your moment, you disconnect emotionally. As a result your performance lacks your personality and aliveness. Repeated incidences like this can make you doubt your abilities as an artist and interfere with you becoming the creative or the performer that you want to be.
The vital role that fear plays in your life
When you give into fear, you begin to avoid rather than live your life. This is when you may start avoiding situations that call you to ‘show up’ – for an auditions, a presentation, rehearsal, a new opportunity…
In these moments you forget that your fear is actually there to help you connect to your courage!
Fears are a normal. They come and go and are just a part of life. You can’t avoid fear unless you avoid life. The only option you have is to work with your fears, since you cannot deny them.
In fact, when you deny your fears, they move out of your awareness, straight into your unconscious mind and then you become much more likely to be controlled by them. When your repressed fears root into your unconscious mind, you are more likely to become paralyzed, emotionally stuck, to avoid, or withdraw.
These unhealthy fear responses will keep you stuck and will block you from engaging with the best parts of who you are. You won’t feel able to access your skills, talents, and strengths. Unhealthy fear responses can keep you small, hidden, and not allowing you to be what you could be. This is when your creativity and performance may be so disconnected from who you are that you may not be able to show your real abilities as an artist.
When you are not in touch with your fears they can also turn into anxiety, depression, and addictions.
What do you do when fear gets a hold of you
Fear may be inevitable, but you don’t have to get stuck in fear. Here’s a strategy to help you transform you fears into courage.
1. Identify something you really want to accomplish; however, it scares you.
2. Identify the steps you need to take toward accomplishing this goal. Sometimes, you may not see all the steps clearly. Just get started! You can keep adjusting your steps as you go through this process.
3. Before you try to “do” each particular step, allow yourself to feel each step in your mind.
Identify any fear-based feelings and thoughts (i.e. ‘I’m nervous’ or ‘I can’t do this’ ). Also see if you may notice some courage-based feelings and thoughts (i.e. ‘I’m excited about it’ or ‘I’ll be ok’) mixed together.
4. Accomplish each step. While you do so, allow yourself to feel your fear-based feelings and thoughts but you don’t engage with them. Also, not only you feel your courage-based feelings and thoughts, you really want to engage with them. Basically, you let the fear be while you connect with your courage.
It is very important to remember that not engaging with fear-based feelings and thoughts does not mean you deny them. You let them come and go, aware of their presence, which is different from denying their presence. These fear-based feelings and thoughts are the ones you try to heal from or stop their automatic control. You want to face them and work with them!
Every time you work with your fears you develop your internal knowing of how to face them in the future. Every time you deny your fears you give in to fears, you let them to take over. When you choose purposely to move beyond your fears, slowly or faster, they will loose their control on you.
Practice, practice, practice!
Every time you connect with your courage and you face your fear, feelings of victory become a part of who you are. After a number of victories, all the good feelings associated with each victory will be stored in your unconscious mind, ready to serve you in future.
This is the autopilot reactions you want to have in your subconscious mind – the readiness to turn your fears and into courage. Eventually, transforming fears into courage becoming a part of who you are, an internal knowing of how to face your fears.
If you find you cannot tolerate your fear-based feelings and thoughts and you start to feel overwhelmed, or if anxiety takes over, then stop! I strongly recommend that you stop trying this strategy own your own. Most likely you need to work with a psychotherapist.
While strategies like this can be very helpful, I believe that the one-on-one psychotherapeutic relationship with a trained professional who is invested to help you, is irreplaceable. The work you do with a psychotherapist is not just a strategy. It is a journey of connection, self-discovery, and transformation that occurs at multiple levels. It is an intimate, complex, and life-changing meeting of minds that cannot be replaced by any techniques.
Mihaela Ivan Hotz, Psy.D., LMFT
9300 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Create Your Life! Don’t Let Life Happen To You!