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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

One problem with fear and nervousness is that we can become afraid of it. “OMG! I’m so nervous! My heart is beating fast, my palms are sweaty, my face is flushing… everyone will see!!”

We become our own worst enemy when we just want it to leave. In fact, the positive side of nervousness is that, in essence, it’s just energy. That’s good! What would happen if you didn’t have energy? Well…

Some years ago I was acting in a show, and it was opening night, right before the show was about to begin. My fellow actors and I were waiting for the curtain to rise on this exciting project, working with a very famous director and creator of innovative performance. Most of us were pensively waiting, but one actor – who had spent years in a famous theater company in New York and had been acting 12 years longer than myself – well, he yawned. The rest of us who were a bit nervous looked at him incredulously. “I just can’t get that excited anymore,” he declared. “I just don’t get nervous.” …Isn’t that sad?

But the point is, nervousness is in fact the same energy as excitement! Once you reframe it as such, you can appreciate having it.

In part 4: the connection between nervousness and investment in life.


So, if you feel nervous, or even subtle discomfort, what is actually happening in your body? What’s the relationship between nervousness and… the nervous system?

Through my training in Body-Mind Centering(TM) and Experiential Anatomy, I learned that everyone has a dominant system they inhabit. Someone who “efforts” really hard through everything, for example, may be in the muscular system. A deeply thoughtful and process-oriented individual may reside more in the organs. And, someone who is nervous – possibly a bit skittish or reactive – may have a very active nervous system.

This can be mitigated, though, by consciously tapping into another system. For example, deep diaphragmatic breathing (which I teach in coaching and workshops), and feeling gravity and the weight of the body, can shift the nerves over to the organs (deep breathing actually massages the organs), which is much calmer.

Action: If you’re feeling nervous, try sitting or standing with barely enough effort to hold yourself upright, while staying loose – and also breathe deeply. If you’re in public, do a very small version of this – but  try it at home first, so you know what it feels like.

(And if this is too hard to grasp, just ask me – I can coach you with it in person or over Skype.)

In part 3: turning nervousness into positive energy

So many of my coaching clients (public speaking, acting, and “everyday performance”) come to me with fear, nervousness, or discomfort. Sometimes this is specific to performing, speaking in front of others, or in business (like pitching their services to a potential client). Often, though, it ricochets through various areas of life, including relationships or when meeting new people.

A question I’m asked almost every day: something to the extent of, “Am I hopeless? Am I stuck with this?” No – of course not. I teach practical exercises to transform nervousness into relaxed power.

However, the transformative journey always begins with reframing what nervousness is. This series examines some common misunderstandings, to help you know the truth about why nervousness and fear aren’t needed, and how you can change them into something positive.

In part 2: the biological roots of nervousness

It can be easy to not understand why we have had to endure difficult situations (let alone find them inspiring). Did they really need to happen? Was all that pain necessary? If everything happens for a reason, how to I make sense of apparently needless difficulties?

Reframe: For a garden to grow, what is the most essential element? Compost. Manure. While of course it also needs plenty of soil, as well as water, it’s that which is dead, decayed or excreted that truly nurtures growth.

So, yes. Your pain, which feels like sh*t, is indeed that which helps you grow.

Action: Think back to a difficult situation that you don’t understand why it happened. Imagine it as being filled with richness. Hold the intention that you’d like to grow from it. Ask for its gifts to unfold, slowly, and to help you discover an increasing feeling of wholeness and peace.


Some of my professional (e.g., business world) acquaintances know I’m also a theater professional, but don’t know what I do exactly. One of my ongoing projects is a one-man show on Jewish identity, In the Belly of the Whale.

When I debuted the show a few years ago in Boulder, Colorado, on the last night of the run, someone left a present for me on the set of show. I had been greeting people after it ended, and when I turned around, a wrapped gift sitting there, unlabeled. Upon opening it, I found a stained glass whale, that attached to a window with suction cup.

I never found out who gave it to me – but it still sits on my kitchen window, and makes me smile every time I look at it.

Action: Give an anonymous gift to someone in your life who you appreciate. They’ll never forget it. Plus, what you give, in one form or another, will come back to you.

So, I’m sick. This forced rest honestly doesn’t inspire me to live life to the fullest or manifest my dreams. All I want to do is sleep, drink tea, and watch movies, even as I yearn to get out there and enjoy all the fun that beckons to me within the San Francisco Bay Area!

Yet my body forces me to listen and tune in to its needs – to slow down, and to get out of my habits and out of my head.

The Law of Attraction, through which we manifest consciously what we desire, requires letting go. But, technically, it’s about letting go of all the thinking, and letting the Universe take care of it. Being sick or having another physical issue means that we must follow it – which, ironically, helps us mentally let go.

Action: Listen to whatever in your body ails you. Breathe into it, and imagine what its message might be for you, for any change you need to make in your life.

In the United States especially, we’re really good at work. People in most other countries take far more vacation time (4-6 weeks per year), while many in the good ol’ USA are stuck with a measly two. Really??

Now, sure, some people need a little push to really get things moving. But most of us simply need more rest. And, if you don’t take it, that’s typically when our bodies give out.

When I’m sick (like today), I take it as a mixed blessing. No, it’s not fun, and I’d prefer to be healthy. Yet being sick forces me to pay deep attention to my body’s needs and rhythms, which I just might have been ignoring. That cup of tea or coffee just covers up how much you need to rest, you know?

Action: Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If it says to rest, go rest. And enjoy it!

Next up: Rest and the Law of Attraction

You’ve heard endless talk about how we should appreciate diversity, right? Whether it’s gender, race, class, etc., we all know that we’re supposed to treat everyone equally. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Why? Because it’s habit to place people in boxes. In fact, this is a survival mechanism: if we know who someone is, we can quickly decide if, based on whatever factors are important to us, they are “safe,” or even in some sense “desirable.” This self-protection is learned through society and our family of origin. But it doesn’t help us walk the talk that most of us believe is essential: that we should embrace others, no matter how different.

Action: Today, notice someone you encounter who, in some obvious or subtle way, is different than you. Notice if you slightly pull away. Whether it’s someone you know well or a stranger, ask that person a specific question about themselves, to find out what their experience of the world is.

Bored to tears? Fed up? Or just plain uninterested? Whatever your preferred adjective, it arises. There are usually two possible reasons:

1) You’re not fully investing yourself in what’s in front of you.

Maybe you’re taking it for granted. In that case, write a gratitude list for all the reasons you should be thankful that it’s in your life.

Or, you have some resistance to it. If so, honor it. Look at the reasons, and see what you need.

2) You need a change.

Tired of things? How about spicing things up? This could range from a new vocation to simply going for a walk. Look at how serious the situation is, and do what you need to accordingly.

Action: The next time you’re bored, sit with it. Give it space. See what you need, and act on it.

Feeling uninspired? Perhaps it’s because of an unending sense of obligations – the Shoulds. All those things you Have to Do. Even if we logically know they’re important – family obligations, work, etc., they can weigh us down.

Sometimes the best way to get inspired is to stop doing that which doesn’t inspire us. Now, this doesn’t mean to eschew all responsibilities and run away to Disneyland. Rather, pay attention to what feels like a drag. Once you release the weight, you may find you have room to connect with what gives you energy, and provides greater connection with the world around you.

Action: Even if it’s for just a few hours, allow yourself some true “free” time to dally about and do anything you fancy.

Thanks to the wonderful and inspiring Alicia Dattner for the title. She’s having a should-free day.

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