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Fear, self-doubt and rejection: an experience that unites us all

A Confidence Masterclass

Last Saturday I had  a wonderful time co-running  a ‘Singing With Confidence Masterclass’ . 12 brave ladies shared the symptoms of performance nerves they experienced including sickness, sweating, dry mouths and running to the toilet.

The collective relief in the room grew as we shared the ‘thing’ we felt when we performed. Whether we called it anxiety, worry, stress, nerves or fear it all essentially boiled down to the same thing: our bodies going into some kind of protection response due to a perceived threat. We agreed that we knew, rationally, that we weren’t going to be eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger and yet there was a primitive unconscious reaction that was making a performance situation far more challenging than it needed to be.

Going deeper: what’s the fear about?

We then went on to share the deeper fears we had around performing. We all solemnly wrote our deep fears down on post-it notes. We weren’t just admitting we were scared, but naming and owning what we were scared of. In those first moments of sharing, you could feel the tension and discomfort in the room. Everyone felt vulnerable and exposed. But then, very quickly, the tension gave way to relief, shocked laughter and surprise. We all gazed up at a wall clad with post-it notes about fear. And they were all about the same things: fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection and fear of public failure.

The fear that unites us

The truth was I knew that we would all come out with the same deep fears. Exactly the same thing had happened three years ago when I had been on the receiving end of feeling that vulnerable for the first time in a room of 150 people. And as I repeated the exercise I re-lived that shocked realisation: really? Everyone else fears they’re not good enough? Everyone else is terrified of rejection or looking stupid? Wow. What a relief and what a happy-sad thing to connect us all.

Turns out even that person that we think is amazingly confident and charismatic struggles just as much as the next person. And in our singing workshop we agreed that it really helped to know that, to name it and to acknowledge it was a natural part of being human. The fear might remain but it didn’t have the same power as it did when it was hidden; when it was a dead-weight becoming heavier because we were holding it on our own.

Feed your confidence, feed your resilience to anxiety

This workshop was also a great reminder of how lack of confidence and symptoms of anxiety can be two sides of the same coin. After all, if anxiety usually arises because of fear of an unknown future, how would that be different if you knew you already had everything you needed to cope with whatever challenge came your way?

Instead of interpreting anxious symptoms as a sign of not being good enough, what if they were just an indication that you were doing something challenging or meaningful that was likely to lead you to grow in some way? In my experience as a coach and a therapist, I’ve seen that the greatest transformations have occurred when clients have interpreted fear from the perspective of still being ‘enough’ which meant they could feel the fear and do it anyway. I believe we all have a part (however small) that knows that we are enough deep down and the more we give that part a voice, the stronger it becomes.

Take action

One of the most powerful ways you can feed your self-confidence (and thereby grow your resilience) is to take action, even despite fear. Our mind considers our behaviour and actions when deciding what kind of person we are. What would you love to be doing that you’re not currently? What small action could you take towards doing that thing? The more consistently you can act ‘as if’ you are someone who is capable and confident, the better you will be able to manage life’s challenges and find yourself really fulfilling your true potential.

Contact me

If you feel anxiety or self-doubt could be holding you back from achieving your next level of success why not contact me today to book a completely free initial consultation. There’s no obligation and we can explore what you would really like to experience and accomplish if fear wasn’t part of the equation. Just fill out the contact form on the right hand side of the page or email info@sallyheady.co.uk.

5 February 2018