Shy may be the new cool, but it can also be debilitating and stop you moving forward. Another word for ‘shy’ is ‘timid’ and in the Oxford English Dictionary ‘timid’ also means a lack of courage or confidence. Confidence only comes when you start to push yourself outside your comfort zone but it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone if you’re shy about something, catch 22. Taking that first step is often the hardest because of the mental scenarios we invent about possible disastrous outcomes. The truth is often much different. There have been times when I have created a real drama about doing something nerve wracking but after the event, I feel nothing but exhilaration and joy and want to do it all again! The only things you’ll get from comfort zone extension are: JOY, HAPPINESS AND FREEDOM! There is no reason on earth to let shyness hold you back.
Most people experience shyness from time to time so it’s totally normal especially when it comes to singing, but learning to feel the fear and do it anyway is the key. Thankfully there are some steps you can take physically and mentally to help you create confidence about either singing in public, singing in front of a teacher or singing within ear shot of others while practising. In order to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ we need to get ourselves into a better state of mind. Remember: You can change your brain chemistry (feelings) by focusing your body!
1. Body Vibrating
Stand with your feet hip distance apart with your knees soft and arms dangling down. Root your feet into the floor. Start to bounce your knees up and down gently at first and then as time goes on, get more vigorous. Do this for 5 - 10 mins. Combine shaking your wrists, elbows, shoulders and nod your head. You could also gently turn your head left and right to stimulate fresh oxygen into your grey matter. As you do all of this keep focused on your brain. When your thoughts starts to kick in, bring your focus back to the brain. Then after a while start to make a noise, like a long ‘er’ sound or whatever you like. The sound can get louder if you want and just imagine all of your stagnant energy coming out of your mouth. The most important thing for this exercise is to keep your mouth open and breath vigorously out of your mouth. When you stop, stand still for a minute and say to yourself, ‘I am ready to take on this challenge.’ If you feel stupid while doing this, that's normal, just get over it.
2. Tap Your Second Chakra
Put on some music that you like, preferably up beat tribal music. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, your knees slightly bent. Find the point 2 inches below your belly button. Press there and you should feel your acu point. Clench both fists and with the little finger fleshy side of each fist tap this acu point rolling one fist over the other finding your own personal rhythm. Your belly becomes your drum. Tap this point for 5 to 10 mins focusing on a big orange light emanating from this area. Every time your thoughts wander off, come back to this visualisation. Say the mantra, ‘I am ready to take on this challenge, Life fully supports me.’
3. Dynamic Posture
By assuming the stance of someone who is confident you tell your brain that you are ready for action and the brain responds with feel good chemicals. If you approach a task with your weight on one hip, shoulder rounded forward, twitching or playing with your finger/hair/whatever you’ll be sending a strong signal to yourself that you are insecure. So feet hip dance apart, weight evenly distributed, knees soft, torso open, chest open, head up, back of the neck long. Take a deep breath and smile. Even if you don’t feel confident at first, by faking it, you’ll cheat your brain chemistry and eventually confidence will take over.
4. Give up perfectionism
Waiting until your perfect at something before you do it will keep you on your stump. In order to sing you don’t have to be perfect. People like to hear nuances and imperfections, that’s what makes you relatable. Work with what you’ve got, rationalise it and be a beacon for other shy folk to follow suit.
5. Get used to making a noise.
Noises are part of our primal instinct and practising them consciously is great way to overcome shyness. Forget dutch courage, you don’t need it, you might think you do, but you don’t. If you were lost in a forest you’d soon find your shout! “HELLO? ANYBODY THERE?” Use your imagination, like actors do, to put yourself in certain situations where you might laugh, cry, shout, scream, yawn, sigh, whisper, talk loud, whinge, moan, lament. Act these sounds out using the alphabet or by counting 1 to 10. Use them and get used to them. They are perfect cues for effortless and emotional singing.
6. Remember To Remember
This one time my dad and I went horse riding. When we got to the stables he said to me, “Sally did you bring the carrots to feed the horses?” I said, “no sorry, I forgot”. He then proceeded to give me a lecture about remembering, but I couldn’t understand why he thought it was my fault. I said to him, “How can it be my fault if it didn’t pop into my head to bring them.” It wasn’t until a few years later that I understood it was MY responsibility to remember things through whatever means possible. So I got used to being conscious. I got used to remembering to remember. This is really helpful when it comes to overcoming emotional obstacles. If you are remembering to do the techniques above, then half the battle is won. Setting a bell on your phone is often a good way to do this.
7. Sing A Solo Challenge
Honestly, the best way to overcome shyness is to face it. So here’s my challenge to you. Record a video of yourself singing a song accapella (unaccompanied) in a room on your own, then post it to Facebook. It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact it’s better if it’s not. Be vulnerable, feel your heart pounding, get used to that feeling but do it anyway. Do it for charity (I recommend www.musicandmemory.org), then nominate 3 of your friends to do the same. Your friends will totally admire you for it (if they don’t they're not really friends let’s face it). I’ve called it the #singasolochallenge. Watch the compelling #aliveinside video here for my fave nominated charity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaB5Egej0TQ
Are you brave enough to stay stuck for much longer or do you want to take the easy route and smash through your barriers? Book Now to come see me for a session.