Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway: Navigating Fear As An Actor
Does Fear get in your way? Do you procrastinate, resist or delay taking the “scary” actions towards your career? I get it. I’ve done it. It’s soooooo much easier to busy yourself with other things.
Fear is central to Susan Jeffers’s Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. My biggest take-away from her book was the distinction that fear is actually not the fear of doing something and failing, but the fear of doing something, failing and not being able to handle it.”
For me, and many of my Clients, this was freeing. There are several things in my life I can use (most recently shattering my shoulder while horse riding, having two surgeries, and a lengthy painful rehab process) as proof that if I can handle that, I literally can handle anything! Suddenly that scary phone call doesn’t seem so scary!
What have you handled in your life? What can you use as proof of your ability to handle things?
I love the title of the book too, FEEL The Fear and Do It Anyway. So much of the time, we resist fear, we try to push it away.
Fear (your amygdala) is like an army scout. The scout’s sole job is to warn the troops of danger. Imagine a scout goes into the forest and finds a threat. They run back to warn everyone. If the troops tell them, don’t be silly, we’re gonna be fine. What does the scout do? It gets louder. The scout starts yelling!! “No you have to listen, there’s danger, you have to be careful!”
The scout means well. It’s trying to keep you safe; it’s just not the sharpest knife in the drawer. It often can’t tell the difference between a real threat (a tiger chasing you) and a perceived threat (a big audition.)
When fear comes up, the only way to get that scout to stop yelling, is to say, “Got it, thank you, I hear you.” Then the scout can relax. It’s done its job.
I invite you to practice observing those fear thoughts; listening to that scout from a neutral place. How do you get that distance? Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping) a mix of modern western psychology and the ancient art of acupressure is one way. While you voice the fear, tapping on the EFT points sends calming signals to the brain and allows you to calm your nervous system and process any unwanted emotion.
Writing or journaling is another way. Putting pen to page allows you to express your emotions and gain some distance. By shining a light on them they often lose some of their power. Then…
Feel the fear and do it anyway. You can handle it!
Remember, courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway. And you don’t need confidence beforehand, confidence comes in the doing!
You can handle it!
I could list a whole lot of platitudes here…
- Collect Failures
- Fail Faster
- There is no such thing as failure, only information
- A No is one step closer to a Yes
…. all of which are valid. One of my personal favorites and a theme of my 2022 is Leap Before You’re Ready.
A trap, I - and my clients - can fall into, is spending too much time getting ready. Now yes of course some preparation is needed, but I’m Type A, typically over-prepared, my B- work is most people’s A+. I can afford to leap before I feel 100% ready.
This can be more of a problem for women who actually have more brain matter in their prefrontal cortex than men, so we do tend to overthink. Also as this well known study shows, men apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.
So, I encourage you to leap earlier, especially when it comes to building industry relationships. Don’t wait ‘til your reel is done, your website is perfect, you’ve booked your first co-star or are “worthy” of reaching out, start creating those industry relationships now.
You can handle it!
I also invite you to have compassion for yourself. The Negative Bias is real. Dating back to our cave-people days, it was a matter of survival. It was much more useful to remember where you ran into the predator than how much you enjoyed your berries. 10 “good” things happen and 1 “bad” thing happens. But, what do we obsess over?
We also automatically default to projecting bad, horrible outcomes. What if we imagined it went really well instead? Either way, we can’t predict the future, we’re literally making it up. Why not make up a scenario that makes us feel good and actually empowers us?
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." ~ Anais Nin
I encourage you to practice. Practice makes peace! Practice makes progress! How can you support yourself in feeling the fear and doing it anyway? Community and Accountability are everything. Surround yourself with like-minded people who can support you and cheer you on.
I have a check in every week with my friend Rachel. We both chose Bad Ass as our word of the year and every Monday we leave each other voice memos and rate our badassery from the previous week 0-10. Where did we feel the fear and do it anyway? Where did we say Yes, before we felt ready? Where did we befriend our fear?
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Let me know how it goes. I’m cheering you on!
~ Coach Sarah