Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” ~Pema Chodron
‘I don’t want it here. I hate the feeling, it is just so horrible. I just want it to pass. Like being dropped in deep ocean waters, I want it to be over. I will drink, drug it or panic it away. It is just the most uncomfortable feeling. One scary feeling and thought after another. No respite.’ Does this sound familiar to you? Anxiety in full flow has to be one of the most debilitating experiences there is. Every week I have a client come to me to tell me, please help me get rid of my anxiety when I present or sing in public. I want it gone completely. I cannot stand it. I haven’t spoken or sung in years for this very reason.
But every time, I have to say sorry I will not get rid of your anxiety. They usually look at me very disappointed until I tell them the first step is acceptance.
I hear them screaming at me ‘how could I accept anxiety, it is the worse feeling?’ But anxiety continues to stick around the more frightened we get of it. Accepting anxiety fully is where it all begins. This doesn’t happen overnight, but if you can ever so slightly become ok with the discomfort you are feeling. Every day inching a little more into accepting when and how you get anxious.
You start to sing for the first time in front of others or speak publicly or maybe in general life, you are trying to manage it. Accept that it is there, like an annoying neighbour that might be there for a day or a few weeks. It is understandable that accepting it is fundamentally difficult. But if you knew that if you accepted it, that you might have less anxiety- would you accept it faster? Accept that in this moment or moments you might have adrenaline running through you, racing thoughts, fear after fear flashing up, shortness of breath, inability to sing or speak normally, feel incredibly uncomfortable. I ask you to accept it. Not resigning that it will always be this bad. But just right now to accept that it is not comfortable. Accept that this feeling is hard. Accepting that to get through this isn’t entirely easy. Nobody wants life to feel hard or uncomfortable, but at times it is. Lean into it. Accept and welcome this loud fear scream at you. Paddle in this deep beautiful ocean of fear. Maybe as you are reading, you just fundamentally can’t accept it. This is ok, even in reading this in a few days the acceptance can land in you.
Anxiety is a GIFT
Anxiety is a gift. Some might think of the worst gift in the world, but it is a genuine gift. A gift that is shouting at us to grow and change what we are currently doing for the better. It demands your attention. It demands your attention to do something different.
If there’s one thing that has led me to the greatest amount of re-invention, it’s anxiety. By anxiety, I don’t mean worry or concern. Anxiety is a different animal that grabs a hold of you and halts you in your tracks.
We tend to reject its milder forms and are really terrified by its intense moments, like with panic attacks. It’s difficult to see when we’re fighting with anxiety that it can have any benefit, but it does.
Anxiety comes with some great treasures hidden inside, and they can be yours if you know how to get to them. First, you have to stop fighting and listen to the anxiety for clues.
Every single person who has come through Simply Sing Life & Voice Confidence Coaching has one way or another transformed themselves. From moving through sometimes small or large amounts of discomfort to improve their solo singing and speaking voice in public, they come out at the end a different person. Renewed. Reinspired and most importantly easier in themselves.
Next time you put off singing or speaking publicly when fear jumps on you. I call you to still do it, even if you are barricaded with fear. The more fear the better and watch what happens as you accept there but continue on to sing or speak in front of others.
For more information about our work in Simply Sing Voice Confidence Coaching, please go to www.simplysing.ie