"I'm so nervous about doing this."
I hear that a lot as an Artist Coach. In fact, I hear about it so much I wanted to write to you about it because we all have those moments in life when we feel scared of what's ahead or where we are at.
Excitement or Fear? A Tool
Over the years, I've picked up a tool that's really helped me when I'm nervous or fearful about doing something and I wanted to share it with you.
So here's the secret--fear and excitement feel roughly the same physically. Our breathing is more rapid, our heart might pound a little, our nerves feel nervy--I even have a weird metallic taste that comes up whether I'm really nervous or really excited.
What we do with that physical response can affect our perceived reality. When I feel those sensations, I’ve started doing a quick analysis of the situation. If it’s not life or death and if I’m not in actual danger, I’ve been saying to myself, I'm so excited about this!” Suddenly, instead of being subject of my fear, I am agent of my own adventure!
Agent of My Own Adventure
As agent of my own adventure, I’m making a choice to do this thing (whatever it is)—from open sea kayaking, to a sprint triathlon, to leading an artist’s workshop, to traveling by myself to visit my Mum and a dear art friend to see Hilma af Klint's breakthrough art show in New York City (where the photo up top was taken).
The tool--labeling the fear as excitement--gets me over the hump and out the door to my adventure. And oh the rewards of doing that--being able to stand in front of the world's first abstract artist, Hilma af Klint. Seeing porpoises swim 30 feet away as my nephew and I kayaked together. Being a part of my workshop participants' journey to increased self-expression. Even tiger paddling my way through the swim leg to PR in my bike leg and run respectably and not finish last in my first sprint triathlon. Taking that first step to see what I can do has meant having experiences that make my life richer, more fun, and more filled with joy.
So try it out. Next time you are feeling nervous about doing something and thinking about maybe not doing it, try saying to yourself "I'm so excited!" and take that next step.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and doing it anyway. This tool is one you can use to help you take that first step.
Have a great day. And remember to look for joy. I promise it is there.
Sarah C.B. Guthrie, MFA
Oh and here's a little Joy for you--"My heart flutters" 12"x12" Acrylic on paper. Click here for more information about the piece.