Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.
December 29, 2010
If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
~Vincent Van Gogh
December first nineteen hundred whatever . . .
You are twelve years old and you have been awarded the honor of playing piano at the holiday recital. On the day of the dress rehearsal, the girl who lost out to you, is sitting in the audience with her friends, they are making fun of you, pointing and snickering. They have been tormenting you for weeks. You become nervous, lose focus, crumble completely. The stressed out music director pronounces you undependable in front of everyone and cuts you from the show. You are embarrassed, humiliated and heartbroken.
Fast forward to the present.
Your friend just offered you the opportunity to accompany him at his next gig. You've had a couple of garage jam sessions and he thinks you are a terrific musician - he could really use some help. You still have dreams of playing before a live audience . . . but there it is again, that voice inside your head, reminding you of your distant painful past, accompanied by a mental movie of December 1, 19-whatever. You are mortified, a failure, ashamed of having let everyone down. People are making fun of you, you are crying. It is all so emotionally painful and worrisome, you just can't help but imagine the potential for disaster if you try it again. Much as you want to do it, you simply lack the confidence, and you are about to say no.
Be kind, rewind.
Do yourself a favor, go back and watch the movie again, before you make your decision. But this time separate yourself from the frightened child on the piano bench as you listen to and watch the scene in the school auditorium unfold. Listen to what that voice inside your head is saying, but this time in the capacity of a distant, impartial, witness. Be aware of the thought, be aware of yourself as a witness to what the child is thinking and feeling. Feel the power of the present as you cease to personally identify with those thoughts and emotions. Feel the painful thoughts subside as they lose their power over you. Feel the peace within.
Rewind and replay as necessary, listening to your self-talk in the capacity of an impartial witness, until you feel the power of the present washing over you and the peace from within.
Fast forward to that day when . . .
You did something kind, something compassionate, took a risk to help someone else - perhaps a complete stranger. Maybe lent more money to a friend in need than you could really afford, or ran out into the road to keep a stray dog from getting hit by a car. You could have been financially or physically harmed, but you didn't even stop to think about it. You were present in the moment, you acted without hesitation or fear, you were confident. You were powerful.
It felt good, didn't it - to have control over your thoughts? So, why can't you have that kind of confidence when it comes to pursuing your passion? Why do you continue to be so troubled by it now?
Because you have spent years investing in the distorted illusion created by your own thoughts when it comes to certain situations. Because you continue to compulsively hit rewind, and see and judge the current situation in terms of the past - to be your own worst enemy. Because you allow your mind to control your thinking - to identify with the past and project it on the future. This fear will rise up whenever this kind of opportunity presents, and you will unconsciously use that fear as an excuse to say no as long as you allow your negative self-talk to have power over you instead of being in the now. Now that I have explained to you how to live in the now, let's try it again . . .
Lights, camera . . . roll 'em
Your friend just offered you the opportunity to accompany him at his next gig. You really want to do it, but that old familiar fear is welling up inside . . . now what are you supposed to do again?
Stop right now before fear takes over your thinking or your behavior. Catch yourself! Do it at the very first sign of fear. Observe the way in which the fear started to arise when you allowed your mind to control you, instead of you controlling it. Take the position of an impartial witness to that voice inside of you, instead of personally identifying with it. Smile at that poor little child sitting over there on the piano bench - accept that this sad thing happened. Feel the power of the present as you cease to personally identify with that thought and those emotions, take control - and bring your consciousness back to the present. Use your senses, look around. Note the objects in the room. Feel the temperature of the air. Feel your breath going in and out. See your friend standing there with guitar in hand, he's breathing in and out too, he's looking alive, hopeful and excited. This is reality and it totally rocks!
Your friend just offered you the opportunity to accompany him at his next gig. You said yes without batting an eye. Congratulations on preventing that painful memory from distracting you from the present. The more you practice this technique, the more conscious you will be of the present and the less you will identify with the past.
What if you are still have doubts about your ability?
Still not completely sure this is the right thing for you to be doing? Still not sure you are ready for this?
Know that you can still learn from the past, while continuing to be in the present. Use what you know of reality to avoid potential pitfalls. Take baby steps toward your goal, giving your utmost attention to each step as you are taking it. Being prepared as much as possible will add to your new found self-confidence.
1. Practice towards your goal, always keeping your mind in the present, enjoy each moment and do not obsess about the future.
2. Consult with the pros. Get someone to help you if you need help with some of the rough spots, focus on what they have to say.
3. Ignore the naysayers, no matter who they are.
4. Have a dress rehearsal. Play for your cats and your dog. Play for your kids. Play for your mom. Invite a few friends over to hear you play. Be a show off - have your neighbor over for a cup of coffee, tell her what you have been doing and ask if she will listen. Maybe even throw a small party at which you and your friend can perform for a few close friends. Then before the big night . . .
5. Familiarize yourself. Check out the venue ahead of time. How does it feel to stand on stage looking out and to walk around on it. Is it hollow or solid? Wood or carpeted? Feel the history of all of the people who have stood on that stage, all of them human beings just like you seeing and feeling the same way.
6. Catch a show or two. Experience how it feels to be in the audience from the point of view of someone who is a performer too.
7. Dress for success. Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself.
8. Don't forget to breathe.
Above all, enjoy the fact that you are actively pursuing your passion and on the verge of turning your ordinary life into an extraordinary life.
You can liken this scenario to your own situation, substituting stage for athletic field, classroom, office, whatever is bugging you. I utilized the child on the piano bench because that actually happened to me, and I missed out on a lot of awesome opportunities until I learned the power of the present. Since then, I have been playing out consistently on keyboards and/or bass guitar. My husband and I built our own recording studio, Quail Studios. We also write and record our own original music, Quail Music and will have a CD out soon. I have gotten to do a lot of very cool stuff over the years, like forming my own band, Heavenly Led, playing with awesome original bands like Neverwonder, and am currently playing with the cover band Hot Property, and its all been fun. My original song Strange Happenings & Miracles, was chosen for a compilation album Expectations: A Folk Rock Revolution, available on iTunes, and my other original songs are playing on twenty or so different net radio stations, have been included on various podcasts, and radio shows. If you are interested in purchasing my songs, you can download them here: Quail Music.
Now go out and pursue your passion, start living your extraordinary life. Stay present in the moment and enjoy! Its all about the journey.
For some great blogs on confidence, I recommend that you check out:
25 Actions to Boost Your Self Confidence by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.
A Thoughtful Guide to Gaining Self Confidence by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist
The Truth About Anything - The Pain Of Not Being Who We Were Made to Be by Nina Yau of Castles in the Air
Ready to start your own minimalist online business?
How to Prepare to Leave Your Soul Crushing Day Job by Everett Bogue of Far Beyond the Stars
There are also some great books in the right side bar of my blog. I strongly recommend them and all affiliate commissions earned by me are donated to charity!