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Fear: Good and Bad

At the weekend I watched Dave live at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Not only did he show what a great performer he is but he also chose to put music aside for a moment. He opted to pause his set part way through to talk to the crowd about fear - what he called 'good fear' and 'bad fear'.

He spoke about leaning in to the good fear - the type that is present when you are nervous before you start learning something new, applying for a new job, starting a new venture or even meeting a new person. The fear that helps you achieve. He spoke about knowing that it's okay and normal to feel this fear. He also made reference to the bad side of it - that which stops you from achieving, from taking a new step and keeps you in a space of nerves that are debilitating.

He didn't have to do that, he could have quite easily just churned out a set of songs, got his money and moved on to the next tour date. Instead, he saw his platform on that stage as an opportunity to speak to a large group of people at once and try to motivate them and help them.

Dave chose to speak to a room full of people who will have heard the value of him sharing his own experiences of nerves and fear. Age isn't something I want to focus on fully, because ultimately wellbeing is a conversation for everyone, at any age. However, we must not lose sight of the power and impact of a young person seeing their idol on stage talking about wellbeing/mental health and that it's okay and normal to feel these things.

Dave role modelled for thousands of people that it's NORMAL to feel fear, it's okay to get nervous and it's what you do with that fear and nerves that matters more. He also demonstrated that fame, fortune and success doesn't prevent you feeling these things.

Rappers can often receive negative criticism and perceptions, that can often be highly unfair and bias towards a negative view of rap music as a whole; yet this is the second rapper that I have seen perform in the past few months who has chosen to speak to the crowd in front of them, about how to try to find ways to deal with the stress and fear that we feel, and see it as an opportunity to grow.

Little Simz used music to create a conversation and an analogy of her walking through a forest/jungle that would feel uncertain, encountering animals that were generally seen as positive or friendly but coming face to face with a lion at the end that caused her to feel fear. Through this story she references the negative expectation with the fear of the lion but instead the lion says 'hello' and welcomes her to move forward. It's simple, but it explored the idea of our perception of fear being a huge part of the issue. The perception of a situation, not the facts or present reality, and how this can be a limiting factor and how once we legitimately face our fear, we can often overcome it with greater ease and triumph than we expected.

The conversation about mental health and wellbeing, facing fears and handling stress, is not just a conversation for when someone hits crisis point. It's about raising awareness of normal fluctuations in wellbeing, that some emotions we see as negative such as fear or stress can actually be positive motivators and that we are capable of great things. It's crucial that we normalise that anyone can feel these things, you are not alone or less worthy if you experience them. It's okay to pause, to ask for help or seek advice before moving forward.

So when fear or nerves hit again, think - is this good fear or bad fear?

I'm not saying all good fear brings great outcomes, or that all bad fear isn't useful, but that we need to not just run (literally or metaphorically) the second we feel those nerves. Sometimes our perception isn't quite right and sometimes those nerves bring the greatest things to us. By examining our fears or worries we can start to truly know which is there to protect us and those that are actually limiting us from reaching our potential.

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