I have been performing for around 16 years and have danced at countless types of events, private functions, festival and films. Generally i have loved this aspect of bellydance and have been completely ok with performing almost anywhere…except on a stage in a theatre with lights.
I’ve never quite understood why, and in the past had avoided these types of performance platforms. As some of you may know I have recently become a qualified hypnotherapist. During my training where we each took turns being the ‘client’, I decided to work on this specific issue.
During one particular session (there were several leading up to it) I was led through a process to access memories associated with the feelings I had around performing in a theatre. I was surprised that nothing obvious came up in the actual session. However 20 minutes later during class, I had a flash of a memory to when I was around 8 years old.
At this time I was doing a bit of acting and I played a younger sister in a theatre production called “Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes”. During the show (which was in a theatre with lights and an audience) I remember misplacing a long piece of fabric that I needed to use for my next scene. It was no where to be found so I walked across the stage (while the show was on!) and looked frantically for it on the other side of the wing. Still not there. The rest of what happened is kind of blurry but i got through it. (on a side note, during times of intense stress we can block out exact details of what happened).
It became suddenly clear where this imprint came from! The panic I experienced as a child that night during the production, left a strong impression on my subconscious around performing in a theatre setting. What I found interesting is that my subconscious just threw this memory out randomly because I had set a clear intention around wanting to get to the cause of this fear.
I wanted to share this story to highlight that every fear is linked to an imprint that has happened in our past. Sometimes the imprint isn’t as obvious as mine was. The great news is that there are many ways to rewire or re programme the belief associated with the fear.
If you have a fear that generates intense emotions that feel overwhelming I suggest seeing a professional, however i decided to list a few DIY strategies to help rewire old programming around fears:
1) If you are unsure of the cause of your fear, set a clear intention that you would like to know what it is. Sometimes messages can come through in dreams, (our subconscious uses symbolic language in dreams) or as a memory flash like what happened in my situation. Shining light on the cause of a fear can sometimes completely transform it because you are now aware of it on a conscious level. And if it happened when you were a child, you can now process it properly as an adult (again, please seek support by a professional if it feels too overwhelming). By shedding light on certain fears, they can lose some of the “emotional charge” around it.
2) If you are already aware of the cause, write out a paragraph (or however long you like) explaining in vivid detail, how you would like to feel in the specific situation that triggers your fear. Continue this writing exercise as often as you can and read it daily. Your subconscious will start to rewire the more you focus on how you actually desire to feel.
3) Another powerful way to imprint our subconscious is to get yourself into a meditative state (where the conscious mind has switched off) and visualise yourself being and feeling exactly how you describe in your paragraph. When our conscious mind is taking the back seat, our subconscious is more open to suggestion. This is basically how hypnotherapy works. If you know of a hypnotherapist to guide this process, even better!
4) EFT: If you haven’t heard of Emotional freedom technique (or tapping) then I highly recommend doing some research. It’s a simple yet powerful modality that you can do on your own, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube.
We often avoid anything that triggers our fears, which can make them stronger. When we constantly avoid something it trains the nervous system to believe that whatever it is, is not safe.
Sometimes several fears overlap and it can feel a bit overwhelming understanding where to begin. In this case, reaching our for some support can be really helpful. Once you have some tools that work for you, depending what your fear is, take baby steps towards your goal and congratulate yourself for small wins!
We are not a finished product, it is never to late to change, and there is no rush!
I’d love to hear what has helped you to overcome some of your fears around dance (or any other fears) or perhaps where you still feel held back?