My hands were cold. My heart was racing steadily. My stomach felt a knot that couldn’t be untied. Performance anxiety has always had a persuasive way of calling my attention. I had diligently prepared for that moment and the fear that I might make a fool of myself was beginning to take over me—two days before the big day (it had actually been a month, but I'd managed to get it under control up until then). My mom then asked me, “have you tried being grateful for your performance anxiety?”
I was shocked. Of course not! This has been one of the greatest obstacles of my life—why would I be thankful for it? As I started to contemplate that idea, my heart began to shrink. I felt a decent amount of pain.
But as I pondered the question and found strength to honestly be grateful for all of the gruesome years of dealing with panic—finding the ways in which this anxiety has helped and even protected me—the fear and sadness that were strangling my heart began to loosen their grip.
“The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time”, says Douglas Wood.
I’ve discovered that we cannot feel grateful and anxious at the same time. When I took the stage two days later, every time that I felt fear wanting to overtake my voice, I kept repeating to myself that it didn’t matter because I was grateful for my anxiety. I repeated my mission to love people through music. I prayed that I would be a conduit of peace and a gleam of hope to those who are searching for meaning. As the performance unraveled, I slowly became more and more confident and I delivered the best performance of my life. Being grateful wasn’t the only thing I did for that successful day, but it has played a huge role in my overcoming journey. Being grateful is not an automatic cure but allows us to begin the healing process, to let go of fear and let in peace.
What are the things in your life that you may be resisting being grateful for? Perhaps like me in this story, you might be facing situations where gratitude doesn’t even cross the radar. 2020 has been a rough year for so many people and it may be hard to have a grateful heart during this month of Thanksgiving. But I hope that my story can help you to find gratitude in your life even in the midst of pain and suffering. I hope my story encourages you to start your own healing journey!
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Unknown