How do you define fear?
Here we are again, another Halloween. We are surrounded by ghosts, skeletons, creepy pumpkins, headstones and scary movies. A strange holiday, but I like the happy side of Halloween: happy pumpkins, happy ghosts, happy costumes and happy decorations.
I’m sure everyone has been afraid of something at some point in your life. How do you define fear?
What are common types of fear? Fear of failure. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of spiders or all types of phobias. Fear of being late. Fear of judgement. Fear of the unknown. Fear of unmet expectations. This list could go on and on. As a flute teacher, I frequently see the fear of performing or the fear of making a mistake in students. But what exactly are they afraid of?
Psychologists and therapists use something called The Feelings Wheel to help identify the root causes of emotions.
This is my copy that has been on my fridge for a while. Here is also a link to another Feelings Wheel developed by Dr. Gloria Willcox of The Gottman Institute.
According to this chart, fearful is a word that can include scared (helpless or frightened), anxious (overwhelmed or worried), insecure (inadequate or inferior), weak (worthless or insignificant) rejected (excluded or persecuted), and threatened (nervous or exposed). Dr. Willcox’s wheel also includes bewildered, confused, discouraged, submissive, foolish and embarrassed. Other wheels also use the words vulnerable, suspicious, apprehensive, concern, worried, susceptible, and terrified.
When I think about conquering fear, the words I just listed above are much more descriptive than just the word fear itself. Once you’ve identified the root of your fear, then it makes it easier to address the thinking process. I am not a trained therapist nor do I claim to be by any means. I just know that thinking through things and adjusting thought processes contributes immensely to emotional health.
Many of these feelings listed on the chart are normal. But when these emotions paralyze you, it’s time to address them and turn them around for your benefit. I encourage you to seek professional help, if necessary.
I love this quote from the movie Princess Diaries:
Recognize that fear exists. What you decide to do about it is the important part. Acknowledge it. Face it. Conquer it everyday.
Also, visit my post from October 29, 2020 called Don’t Be Scared, for specific details on how to address performance anxiety as a flute player or musician.