Monday, March 26, 2012

Fight or flight (pt 4 of a series)

March weekly series topic deals with “Fear” and how it relates to independent artists careers.

“Too many of us are not living our dreams, because we are living our fears”- Les Brown, speaker

Every one of us has fears of one type or another.  Tall buildings, fear of needles, or fear of a wiggly or odd- looking creatures.

 For me, spiders, and being in large groups of people are on the top of my fear list.
  Professionally, being afraid of spiders doesn’t effect me on a regular basis but being in large groups of people is part of my job, and having this be one of my phobia’s – could have been career ending as a speaker, performer, and artist. 

Most people who meet me are pretty surprised that I fear being in large groups of people, since we are usually meeting at a conference, festival, or workshop with LOTS of people around!  It is something that I have spent years working on, using the desire and passion that inspires me to create and help others create to diminish the fear that would have paralyzed me.  If I left the fear in place? Then  it would have  prevented me from touring nationally as a artist, speaking at conferences like, NAMM, ASCAP Awards, & SXSW.  Those experiences were some of the most exciting times in my career, that I would have missed if I didn't do something.
  That same tool of desire and passion are in your artistic tool-box, and you too can put fears that stop you behind you too!


Let's step back and examine what "Fear" is really all about.

“Fear” is our reaction to a distressing negative sensation by a perceived threat to our safety.  It is one of our most primal instincts of basic survival, part of our autonomic response to "fight or flight". These responses in modern times have assumed a wider range of behaviors. For example, the fight response may be manifested in angry, argumentative behavior, and the flight response may be manifested through social withdrawal, or perhaps substance abuse.

Fear almost always relates to a worsening situation channeling our energy away from the perceived threat, into directions or even old behaviors that seem safe.  
We can leave fears like spoiled children to run free in our creative house shutting doors and windows, locking inside our potential, dreams, and hopes. Or we can use our own tool box to unlock the doors and windows.


There is nothing like that ol’ time Religion to inspire your feelings!
Be good and follow the “rules” and you go to HEAVEN, if you don’t, you are BAD and of course, bad people go to Hell. Despite Hell being a much warmer climate, we are conditioned that being bad and hell are undesirable destinations, and what ever spiritual guidelines your people prescribe to, will determine which behaviors you will be encouraged to follow.

The media does it’s  fair share to manipulate and exploit the message of fear every day. Simply turn on the evening news. You are flooded with images, economic failure, losing your home, and of course “Terrorists”. Who have replaced the communists as the evil dark forces we are told to fear most.

Phobia’s are common and do not need to cause ongoing distress or disrupt your life to limit you from achieving your full potential.

You have control. You can turn off a TV or radio station to limit the influx of negative reinforcements. However, if you find you are avoiding situations or places, or that your fear is resulting in disabling anxiety, fear, or panic you may need the support a professional therapist to help you overcome your phobia.

It’s natural to want to run and hide. You can’t undo the fight or flight response,  Remember, flight isn’t your only option, you have the opportunity to face your fears, and reclaim control.
By gradually exposing yourself to your fear will help remove the anxiety and fear.

 For example if you are afraid of heights, if you have a normal fear, you may feel anxious or have butterfly’s in your stomach and sweaty palms as you peer down from a window in a tall building. You have a Phobia, if your fear of the tall building results in you turning down a awesome job,  because it is on the 15th floor. 


Make a list of the situations that you fear the most, then arrange those items from least scary to most scary. For example if Tall buildings are your fear you may list riding in the elevator, or even pushing the button as part of a scary situation that you prioritize.

As you make your list(s) notice the feelings you experience as you write down each item, do you notice a churning stomach, sweaty palms, or increased respiration?   Remember, you are just making a list, putting words on a page, you are safe, and nothing bad is happening, That odd feeling your having is you trying a new behavior!   What is at the top of your fear list?   Let us know in the comment section below,

Tamra Engle is a independent music business strategist based in the S.F. bay area she is available to help you manage your next creative project, for private consultations to help you develop your independent business, or to produce your next demo, EP, or CD You can read more about her, and join her mailing list at  you can email her at   

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