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 create or perform… your audience is moved by you.

In such genuine creative and performing moments, fear and courage become one, dancing together in harmony.  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 interaction helps you to face the world, 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.  In fact, many times your fear and courage don’t dance together harmoniously.  It takes to show up, to let fear and courage practice their dance together. As, you keep showing up and practice, your fear and courage can find their dance steps together.

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 creativity or performance lacks your personality and aliveness.  Repeated instances 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…

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. Embrace them and work with them, so you can live your life.  

In fact, when you deny your fears, they move out of your awareness, straight into your unconscious mind.  Repressed fears hook into your unconscious old paralyzing fears, and then you are more likely to be controlled by them.

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 really are as an artist.

When you are not in touch with your fears they can also turn into anxiety, depression, and addictions.

Fear may be inevitable, but you don’t have to get stuck in fear.  Here’s a strategy to help you transform your fears into courage.

  1. Think of 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” the identified step, allow yourself to feel each step in your mind.

See if you become aware of any fear-based feelings (doubt, agitation), body responses (tummy butterflies, sweaty palms), or thoughts (‘I’m not good at this’ or ‘I can’t do this’).  Also see if you may notice some courage-based feelings (excitement, joy), body responses (good chills, open heart), or thoughts (i.e. ‘I can do this’ or ‘I’ll be ok’) mixed together.

  1.  Accomplish each step.  While you do so, allow yourself to feel your fear-based feelings and thoughts but you don’t engage with them. Let fears come and go, like waves on the shore. They come and go, but they never stay.  On the other side, you really want to feel and engage with your courage-based feelings and thoughts. Like basking fully in the warmth and the light of the sun, soothing and energizing you. 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.  Again, 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 into fears, you let them to take over. When you choose purposely to move beyond your fears, slowly or faster, they will lose 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 fear 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 don’t try face your fears 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.

Contact me to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see if psychotherapy can help you further your career and your personal life.

I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creative blocks / creative issues, relationships, and addictions – to be and live their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers here.





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