With all the violence (and threats of violence) that have been in the headlines these past few weeks, the emotion of fear has been living very prominently in my mind. Fear is the most primal of all human emotions; there are no grey areas in the emotional landscape of fear. This emotion has a very important role: to protect us from danger. It prevents us from thinking we can hug grizzly bears, no matter how cute they may seem. The problem comes when fear wants to “help out” when it isn’t needed. And in our modern world – where we generally aren’t being chased by grizzly bears on a daily basis – fear often feels the need to lend a helping hand when it really isn’t necessary.
In our society, admitting that we feel fear is often considered shameful, and yet the mainstream culture constantly feeds our fear, making it grow stronger and more powerful. We may try to fight fear or deny its existence, but in my experience, that isn’t a very effective approach.
So what are we to do with the voice of fear when it tells us to run away when we’re in a casting office waiting to audition? Or when it tells us to stay home and not go to the audition in the first place? Or when it immobilizes us when “places” are called before a performance? Below are some tools you can use to manage and diminish fear:
1. Make friends with fear. It isn’t going anywhere, so you might as well befriend it! When you notice it bubble up in you, say: “Hello fear. I see you there. Thanks for trying to protect me. I appreciate you. ” Fear will always be in your life, but it doesn’t have to control your life.
2. Name your fear. Try thinking of fear as a separate entity from yourself. You might even want to give your fear a name. I like to call mine “Gertrude. ” Seriously, give your fear a funny name and you begin to take some power away from this previously unnamed force. When we treat our fear as something separate from ourselves, we are more likely to not let it govern us.
3. Turn off the news. I’m not suggesting that you become completely uninformed and blind to all the suffering in the world. What I am suggesting is limiting the amount of time you spend watching, listening, and reading about negative things happening. It is so easy to become addicted to the negative news cycle. Personally it doesn’t make me feel empowered to have this “knowledge. ” It makes me feel more fearful, overwhelmed and disenfranchised in all aspects of my life. This is especially important if you are a highly sensitive person. While this may not seem to directly relate to stage or audition fright, the more opportunities fear has to manifest itself, the more real estate it will take up in your brain.
4. Take positive action. Instead of watching news, contribute a few dollars to the causes that matter most to you– whether that be global warming, homelessness or war. Or use your creative voice to create art that will engender positive social change and illuminate the issues that are near and dear to you!
5. Meditate. Meditation allows “the mind chatter,” which is often fear-based, to quiet down. When you meditate, see if you can get in touch with your higher self. The higher self lives inside each and every one of us. It is our connection to something greater than ourselves: our inner wisdom. Allow your higher self to be the one who watches your fear. When you consciously shine light on your fear (instead of unconsciously letting fear run the show), fear’s power will be greatly diminished.
Fear is natural, it will always be there. But you have a choice as to how you’re going to react to it. The important thing is to not let it run your life. Don’t allow fear to stop you from going to that audition or sending that submission to a casting director. When you take positive action towards your goal, you will meet your fear with compassion and it will become less powerful!