I’m about to go on stage to play to a sold out crowd for the most significant show I’ve ever done. I’m more prepared to deliver the goods than ever before and yet, all the usual pre-show symptoms are firing in full effect.
Heart rate significantly elevated? Check. Unquenchable thirst and an undeniable case of dry mouth? Yup. Butterflies (more like behemoths) in my belly? No doubt. Mental chatter clamoring for my attention. Yessiree.
But… this time around, something is different. It’s one simple thing but it makes a HUGE difference.
I’m not fighting it.
In fact, I’m embracing it as FULLY as I can.
Well, for one, I’ve learned my lesson and I know where option A gets me. Option A looks like being in full-blown resistance, which could cause the energies to escalate to full blown panic in the worst case. That’s because if we don’t ALLOW the uncomfortable feelings to be, then they are not able to pass and the more we resist, the more they intensify.
In the best case, I’d be trying to escape my body for the whole performance and I’d never fully land in the present. In this scenario, I’m definitely not able to enjoy the experience or deliver something truly connected. This is also the path that tends to highly increase the likelihood of fumbles, missteps and so-called mistakes that reinforce the initial fear.
Option B has thankfully been added to the menu after many years of only knowing and experiencing the pain of option A. Option B (B is for better) was born of necessity because it came to a point where something needed to shift or I was going to stop doing the thing altogether. The agony of the lead up (and often during, too) was becoming too much to bear and was sucking all the joy out of the thing I once loved doing so much.
Option B involves going into the heart of the matter and facing the fear head on rather than addressing the surface level symptoms. It requires, first and foremost, that we get really PRESENT with all the sensation and stuff swirling in the body. To be with it as best as we can, to FEEL it fully and allow it to be so that we can ultimately harness it and use it to our advantage.
In my case, that means I don’t suppress the intensity because I’ve come to understand that it’s actually going to serve me to do what I’m about to do with passion, with fire, and with potency.
But this is only if I can embrace it and go with it which means staying in the visceral experience of what’s arising in the body. What’s also required at all costs, is staying out of my head which will inevitably contain a playlist of my best reasons WHY NOT, all designed to protect me from the perceived imminent danger of public humiliation, failure, rejection, judgment, << insert your favourite fear here >> a.k.a. DEATH.
Any of this sound familiar?
Perhaps the context is one you don’t know but if you’re human and doing stuff you’ve never done before, chances are that you know what it feels like to feel fear and to be challenged, or even crippled by it. To be clear, I’m not talking about the fear that comes up when we face a genuinely dangerous situation and our survival instinct kicks in to protect us. That’s a good thing.
I’m talking about the fear that unfailingly comes up every single time we set out to do something expansive, something enriching that’s out of our comfort zone, and that likely even calls to us and inspires us.
That’s where COURAGE comes in.
Courage is the ability to meet our fear and to overcome it, to show up and take action, despite it.
Courage is a muscle and skill that we can grow and develop. As much as we might like to fantasize about being fearless, the reality is that what many of us call fear is actually a healthy, natural response to doing amazing, expansive things.
At the core, courage, is really nothing more than cultivating our ability to stay in those experiences that stir something in us, to meet the energies and sensations that arise and to GROW our capacity for FEELING them fully.
The more we do, the more empowered and powerful we become. And the more we can use all that fiery–stomach–churning–dear–God–make–it–stop–craziness in our bodies as fuel for our actions, creative endeavors and our life.
Whether the task at hand is having an uncomfortable conversation, taking a leap of faith or putting your heart & soul out on display for all to see, the process of growing your courage is always the same.
Be present and notice what’s coming up in the body → Feel, embrace and allow it as fully as you can. This is the key step, where we often go into resistance and try to make it go away, or try to change it by force. This doesn’t work and often only makes things worse. Let it be and it will move on its own. → Last but not least, go on and DO THE THING and infuse all that energy, sensation, and feeling into your action.
The more you practice this, the more your capacity for it and your courage will grow. It’s not always easy and it takes doing it in small increments, but it really is that simple and it most definitely works.
Give it a try. You’ve got this. Know it or not, there’s a LION in you. Time to let it ROAR!
About Chris Assaad
Chris is a singer-songwriter from Toronto who left a promising career in law several years ago to follow his heART and his passion for music. Since then, Chris has been sharing his eclectic blend of soulful roots music across the globe and actively using his voice to enCOURAGE others to live a life they love. Chris is also a writer, storyteller and inspirational force and is known by some as the author of a quote that was recently shared, liked, and reposted over a million times on social media. You can connect with Chris and hear music from his latest album, I Won’t Die, at www.chrisassaad.com