Ask Parvati 39: Overcoming Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety – Part 3: To Risk Speaking Up

BY Parvati


Hiding, not speaking up and playing it small may feel like a safe option. But in most situations we face throughout the day, when we hide and silence ourselves, we lose touch with the voice of our soul and our true source of power. When we hide and remain mute when we are inwardly called to express, we are acting from a place that believes that the world does not want us. We are acting from a place that
believes that love does not exist. When we act from a place rooted in those beliefs, we strengthen them.

To overcome our deep core beliefs takes humility, determination, and a self-kindness so that we may look within, understand our inner patterning and make different choices. When we go within and embrace change, we are taking a risk. We are moving away from the familiar into the unknown and new. We must admit to ourselves that this is scary and treat ourselves with appropriate patience and tenderness.

When we go deeper into what holds us back from growth, we face the grips of fear. When we touch that fear with gentleness, and begin to accept it being there with love and attention, we notice that what we deeply fear, ultimately, is that we will not be loved just as we are. This quickly transforms from our unconscious thoughts into a physical experience when we are called to express ourselves in public. We fear,
deeply, that when we express what we want to express, we will not be loved. We can say, we fear that we will be judged, not accepted, and ridiculed. But all of these are part of the same fear of not being loved. When we are judged, we don’t feel loved. When we are ridiculed, we don’t feel loved. When we feel cast out, we don’t feel loved. If we can remember that this deep fear of not being loved stems from our
past and has no bearing on the present moment, we begin to free up our voice and overcome stage fright.

Stage fright is normal. So cut yourself some slack when you feel it. Almost everyone would, when faced with putting themselves out there. It is true, that as a performer, I have had to look deeply into this, and overcome my own tendency to feel afraid. There is not one show I do that I don’t feel nervous. I mean, let’s think about it. I dress up in gold spandex, wear a crazy outfit, sing positive, electronic songs while dancing around on stage in an alternate universe… yes! I am afraid of being judged! But what I have come to find, is that my love for what I do, that my need to express who I am, is greater than the fear that would hold me back. I have also come to understand that the fear that causes stage fright, when I dial it down, also comes in part from a place that really values what I do. I do want to communicate effectively. I do want to be heard. I do want to reach out and touch others. I don’t want to be randomly rhyming off gibberish on a soapbox on a street corner. I am here to communicate. So I value what I say and the fear keeps me alert to that. If I were to let that fear get the better of me, I would not perform and would lose contact with the voice of my soul. I would also not be a vehicle for the joy my shows bring to those who attend. So overcoming the fear is a win-win.

I believe we are all on this planet to shine and shine brightly. Remind yourself of this. Your light is your natural self. Sure, we cast a shadow. Being able to be humble and self-caring when we face our shadow helps us find a rooted strength. Being open to our light and humble faced with our shadow helps us to get out of our own way and enjoy the God-given talents and voice we each uniquely have. When we show up for life, life shows up for us. By playing it small, we give power to our small beliefs. By saying how we feel, and expressing ourself, we risk appearing a fool, we risk upsetting the status quo, but we find a freedom and honesty that transcends adversity. As I say in one of my songs “Love Is Real”, “You find your wings when you risk the fall, and you see there never was a drop after all, ’cause love is real.” Here is a quote that I really like that speaks of the value of risk:

To Laugh is to Risk Appearing the Fool

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental,
To reach out for another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self,
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure,
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to
risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,

But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave;
He has forfeited freedom,
Only a person who risks is free.

— William Arthur Ward, “To Risk”

(Continued tomorrow with “The Inner Critique And Self-Love”)