Live Without Fear
Live without fear? Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? But let’s face it as performers we’re the poster children for fear and it’s best buddy , anxiety. I mean we’re all over these two emotions like a monkey on a cupcake.
In fact, we have anxiety and fear covered from every angle. What do I mean? Well…picture this: Your agent contacts you about an audition for a national commercial,…oh what the heck ,let’s dream big…A national commercial for American Express . American Express is totally re-vamping it’s brand and searching for it’s “next” new face. The corporation is pouring big bucks into their ad campaigns for TV, radio and print. The casting director contacted your agent and specifically requested YOU audition…OMG! This is it…finally! Of course you’re DYING inside, that little voice in your head screaming, “YESSSSSSSSSSS!” as visions of your face plastered everywhere, across all media, are racing through your mind. Forget “PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE” and their unhealthy attachment to “FLO”, her freaky shag, stupid headband and Kewpie doll face… forget them! It is YOU baby, you and AMERICAN EXPRESS!!!! But, being the true professional you are, you calmly write down the information, thank your agent, hang up and…and for the next 5 or 10 seconds you’re elated. What happens next? Wait for it….what’s that peeking over your shoulder like a lurking shadowfilling you with fear and anxiety? The feelings of fear seem to come at you in every direction they’re threatening and relentless. Soon you become like a fugitive on the run trying to escape the panic sensations.
The Difference Between Fear and Anxiety
Fear and Anxiety are related but they’re not exactly the same
Fear is immediate, you hear someone trying to open your front door, you’re startled and scared, and you want to run away from impending danger.
Anxiety has to do with a future event and a irrational perception that something might go wrong , you’ll make a mistake or people will not accept or like you. Anxiety is all about impending doom and most likely not based on fact but “feelings” or emotions.
Here’s how the communication breaks down between the brain and the body. There is a small area of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is the body’s ” on-off button” for anxiety. As you go about your day the amygdala is in the “off” position but will switch on in response to a dangerous situation., an angry dog about to attack for example. The fear response is a natural response for self-preservation and is known as the “Fight, Flight or Freeze” response. However when the button is continually pressed in times of anxiety, stress or worry it gets stuck in the”on” position.There’s a miscommunication between the brain and the body. The feelings of anxiety are interpreted as a real “danger” by the brain and the body gets ready for escape by increasing the heart rate, sweat glands activate to keep the body cool, and breathing becomes shallow and rapid all in preparation to fight or take flight. However it’s a false alarm. There is an unrealistic piece to anxiety it feels like fear but perceived as a dangerous situation is actually not dangerous at all. The more you fight the anxiety the more it escalates and soon you begin to expect and avoid situations that may “bring on” the feelings of anxiety. Remember anxiety feels like real fear and , you may feel you’re in danger, real but what is feared is not a danger at all.
To live without fear, stop running away.
The more you run away from fear the more powerful the anxiety. What can you do?
- AWARENESS: Train yourself to become aware of your thoughts and feelings On a daily basis throughout the day ask yourself, “What am I feeling”? Be objective, don’t attempt to figure out “why” just “what”.
- DETACHMENT: Remember your thoughts and feelings have NO MEANING don’t connect to them just be aware of them.
- KEEP A LOG: In order to manage your emotions you need a clear idea of what situations cause them. Start a log , list the incident your thoughts about the incident, your emotional response and your behavioral response. By identifying and labeling the situations that cause anxiety reduces, often dramatically, the strong association emotion.
After a few days of charting your awareness of your emotions will become focused and you’ll see that certain situations or interactions escalate your anxiety. You’ll begin to live without fear as you detach from your emotional response to situations. There’s no right or wrong way to keep the chart, the idea is to look for repetitive patterns of behavior and stop the irrational reactions. Hang In There…Your Amygdala will thank you!