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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Pallesen

Are there really such thing as "stakes"?

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Performance coach talks about overcoming performance and audition anxiety and thriving in "high stakes" situations.
Me, feeling "stake-free" in Prague, April 2019

"Do you ever forget you're going to be okay no matter what?", a violist I'm working with asked me the other day.⠀ "Hell yeah", I replied. "All the time!"⠀ "Well, do you think there's a way to make sure you remember it when something actually counts?"⠀ I don't think we can make sure we remember it, because I don't think we control what we think and when. But rather than figure out how to remember or find techniques and strategies to be more confident in "high stakes" situations, I think a WAY more valuable conversation to have is, "Does anything actually count?" Are there really "stakes"?⠀ IMHO? No.⠀ "But Nicholas, things DO count! There are real world consequences to something not going well!"⠀ Yeah, you're right. And that's not what I'm talking about here. Because I don't think that's the "risk" that actually scares or stops us. Deep down, we all get that some things go well and some don't. Some work out, some don't. That's life. ⠀ I think our real fear is that WE are at risk. But is that True?⠀ How many times have you been rejected? Something not gone how you wanted? Did or said something you regret? Someone said horrible stuff about you? In the moment, I bet it sucked and felt horrible. At least it does for me. ⠀ But you're still here!⠀ Every time you thought the world was going to end, it didn't.⠀ You've come out the other end Every. Single. Time. Maybe a little dirty and beaten up sometimes, but you've ALWAYS come out the other side.⠀ That's because our true nature is resilience. We're built to bounce back. And while "failures" might bruise or sting our ego, they can never touch or damage the wholeness and wellbeing that are our true nature. Our OK-ness is never contingent on the outcome - positive or negative - of anything we do in the world. It's a done deal. 🎉

So, I'd invite you to get really curious, be open to seeing something new, and look to your own experience. See if everything I said above is true. See if you've actually come out on the other end every time. It's well worth the exploration 👍 The more we see for ourselves that wellbeing can't ever be on the line, the scary mirage of "stakes" shimmers and loses its credibility. And with nothing truly to lose, we're unleashed to just show up and do our thing, the way we know we can.⠀ You'll still win some, and lose some. But that's okay. You're playing with the house's money, friends. Your pot of wellbeing is safe and secure. So why not go all in? 🌟


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