Get out of your own way!

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. Last week was filled with lots of activities for me and I must say I discovered myself in a new way.

There is no gain saying that I try my best to excel at whatever I do and I am of the opinion that whatever you put your mind in, you can do well. It has also been difficult for me to understand how people cannot get somethings done, UNTIL yesterday when for the first time in my life I “froze”. Those who know me might find this strange and so do I. So how did this all happen?

I have been an avid lover of things related to the arts; singing, dancing, composing songs, writing poems, acting, playing instruments etc. Some of these I have as innate abilities and others I have developed over the years. I am not a professional of any kind however I do my best to perform at a level above average in whatever I undertake. Having said that, I also have had issues in believing that someone could “freeze” doing something they like doing. In fact, I laugh at movie characters who get tongue tied at a speech or who find it difficult to do something “simple”. I guess nature was just waiting for the best time to teach me a very vital lesson. This blog is clearly not what I intended to share today, however the experience was just too real to not share.

In a gathering of say 15 people last night I was invited to sing, something I do every time without qualms and I enjoy doing it. I had just finished playing the drum and took the harmonium and started to sing, when I noticed my fingers and hands were all shaky. I couldn’t believe it. I sing every day and I have never had such an experience. I pulled myself together and somehow went through the session but my composure was totally off. Somewhere in between, I pumped the harmonium louder and sort of hid my apprehension in the high sound. It worked for a while, but a tune I knew so well, failed me. I was not only embarrassed but humbled beyond words. In that moment I began to imagine how hard it must have been for so many people who had to keep up with me at things they weren’t good at, and I had no idea. I began to see how it felt like to experience such temporary shock. Interestingly I have done singing sessions in front of hundreds of people for hours, and never had an issue, so what happened?

After thinking for some time, I could identify a few things; first and foremost I was too concerned about the outcome of my singing, as it was in front of a relatively new crowd. I was yet to connect with my audience on a more friendly term, and as such I was nervous. Yes, I said it, even I get nervous too. Second, which is probably the most important factor, is that I was standing in my own way. I was in my head telling myself, how people were watching me, how everyone wanted to see how well I could sing, I was literally breathing down my own neck, as such I was slowing myself down. In flashback, I just wonder why I was so disturbed over nothing. Did this experience disturb me? Yes it did. Am I going to try again? Definitely! What if it happens again? Then it means there is something I need to work on. If there is an anxiety, it means there is fear, if there is fear then naturally there is ignorance. Fear is born of ignorance. So what I need to figure out is what am I ignorant of, that is creating this fear in me that suddenly shuts me down while I do something I love doing?

The moment I can identify this, then there is a chance I can solve my sudden freeze and fear. One crucial point to note is that, even the audience was not as disturbed as I was. So there it is; I had created an expectation in my head, and because I was unable to meet that expectation, I had difficulty accepting the fact that I was consciously standing in my own way. No one was booing me to stop, no one laughed, no one even criticized me, and I was fighting demons I had created in my own head. The beautiful thing is that, these demons are only as strong as I allow them to be. If I continue to feed them, which is what they want, then they grow powerful. If I refuse to feed them with doubt and fear, then they die naturally.  In life we all, will face moments like I faced yesterday at one point in time or the other. In some cases, it will be due to genuine lack of expertise, in other cases, it will be due to our own internal dialogue. Whichever the case may be, we need to get out of our own way and give ourselves a chance. I know if I have to do this right, then I have to do it again, and focus on what I am doing rather than what my mind is telling me.

I know it is easier said than done, however the only way to improve, is to try. The Master is just a student who has failed so many times and has refused to quit. Failure is good, because it makes you humble, gives you instant feedback, and allows you room for progress. Success, sometimes doesn’t teach us as much as failure. So last night I didn’t do well, it means I am one step closer to doing it right. This should be our mindset and we will definitely achieve a lot more success in any aspect of our lives. I have no idea what will happen the next time I try to sing in front of the same “unfamiliar” audience, but I know for sure, I am not going to chicken out.

Till next week, do follow for more.

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