I’m about to start a play at the National theatre. As the first day of rehearsals looms so do the familiar feelings of anticipation, fear and excitement. It’s amazing that after fifteen years of being an actress my nerves are still there to remind me that I have to focus and prepare. We forget that our fear is there to protect us not only from the things that we shouldn’t do but also the things that we should experience in order to grow and stretch ourselves. 

I’ve reflected on the ways in which we use our defences to avoid the fear of shame, being judged or a sense of loss in order to preserve a false but comfortable sense of self. We don’t make decisions or commit to something new as it’s safer to hold on to our historical, negative self-beliefs.  The excruciating thoughts sometimes associated with ‘What if’ feel like they penetrate more deeply and dangerously than the potential of ‘what could be’ or even ‘what is’.  As Lily Allen recounts in The Fear, she’s ‘programmed to function’ away from her feelings. She asks ‘When do you think it’ll all become clear? Cause I’m being over taken by the fear’ This fear prevents her gaining greater self-knowledge and holds her back from accessing her deepest desires.

By taking the time to get to know yourself better, you can start to give yourself space to know what you need to succeed under pressure. 

– Find ways to befriend yourself. Give yourself a break. 

For example – Remember how you turned a critical moment into a great one. What happened to you? How did you accomplish this? What did it feel like? Visualise this positive experience again. Recreate these psychological conditions.

-Through this process nerves can be channelled into excitement rather than fear.

-Be patient with yourself and if you can’t be, ask yourself why? Work out if this is something for you to work on. Selfcare doesn’t necessarily come naturally, it takes thought.

-Prepare. Think ahead and get yourself ready for action.

On that note I’m off to read my play and then prepare for a workshop on ‘Collaboration’. I’m not going to identify with the anxiety that walks alongside uncertainty but instead choose to remember that I know what I’m doing, I’ve built a career around what I do. Success can be leveraged through daring to come out of your comfort zone and taking the time to consciously execute how you attain it.

Written by Charlotte Lucas