Yes, xylophone! But it could also be guitar, piano, swimming, painting or any other thing you'd like to accomplish, but have yet to start, all because of the f-word - FEAR!
Fear, when used appropriately, keeps you safe. You are able to accurately evaluate the risks, anticipate the dangers and decide upon a course of action that will, hopefully, mitigate the risks. Fear is a good teacher. When you have a bad experience, you can learn from it; sometimes that learning takes many repetitions and sometimes the lesson no longer fits.
So, let's look at how fear can be preventing you from playing the xylophone, for example. You may have had a bad experience learning to play another instrument when you were younger. You had an impatient teacher, one who seemed to do more berating and belittling than encouraging and teaching. Or perhaps that first concert you appeared in was a flop - an embarrassment that you recall with high-resolution clarity.
Those earlier memories can hold you back, especially if you are unaware that they may be triggering the stress response, which causes you to flee or say no before you've even had time to think about what it is you want to do.
Strong emotional memories such as those that pertain to survival, like fear, are stored by the amygdala. We have two of these almond-shaped masses of nuclei located deep within the brain, straight in from either ear.
When a situation that looks close enough to the initial fearful one, the stress response is elicited quickly. The stress response is inherited from our prehistoric ancestors. Can you see how, in the right scenario, flight, fight and freeze can save your life?
However, is it really useful for you to be immersed in that flood of neurochemicals that results in all kinds of side-effects, some of which may not show up for decades? But, let's leave the future for the future and talk about now.
How to override that initial get-me-away-from-here-response to whatever venture is calling you and, at the same time, hindering you:
- Recognize that your initial fear-based reaction may be similar to a past situation that is close enough to the current one that it triggers the stress response.
- Notice how you are feeling. What are you compelled to do? Are you shaking? Do you want to run? Has your heart rate increased? Are you chest breathing?
- Activate the power of your heart by recalling a feeling you get when you spend time with someone you love, do something that pleases you or revisit a favourite place. You're aiming for an improved heart rhythm, which you achieve with practice.
- The more you do Step 3, the less likely you are to unnecessarily trigger the stress response, so you can get on with doing the things on that Life List of yours.
- This is a process that you approach in a systematic way.
- To learn more about how I can help, please get in touch.