Confessions of a Closet Musician

I still feel jealous whenever I see a musician performing onstage. I know, I call myself a “life coach” so I should be more evolved than that. But I’m not. I do know, however, that noticing my feeling of jealousy is a juicy nugget of treasure to show me the thoughts that are keeping me imprisoned. So I start to do the work. Even now, that I am actually living a life of sharing my music in the world, there is an old, fear-driven part of my brain, which hasn’t quite let go of its hold over my essential self, that is yelling in my ear, "You'll never make it in this world as a musician! It's just too hard to make a living! You'll never be respected! You'll have to work too hard! It'll never be worth it!" Ever notice that the people who say these things are the ones whose lives have actually proven these beliefs to be true? I haven’t found a successful performing artist who has said, “Forget it. It’s too hard. For all the effort I put in, it’s not worth it.” (On the other hand, for some reason, I've met plenty of doctors who've said this to me.) The reality – the truth - is there are many examples of people whose lives prove these beliefs NOT to be true. What's the difference between these two groups of people? Is it talent? Is it luck? Is it genetics? Is it a mystery? I now believe that it is as simple (and also as daunting) as this: You become what you believe. Your life plays out according to the deepest, most closely held beliefs that you hold inside you without question. When you are stuck, and you find the courage to question the beliefs that got you there, you unlock the keys to your own prison. This is another way to describe commitment, dedication, and determination. We are all committed to a certain set of beliefs. The bridge between staying stuck and feeling free is in our AWARENESS of what we are CHOOSING to believe. So here's an example: 56-year-old man, whom I'll call Lou, is an extremely talented jazz trumpet player, knows "everyone" in the business, has made recordings, played in various venues, knows all the standards and can improvise like a charm. In our first conversation, he tells me that, "No matter how hard you work in music, you'll never get paid enough money for it to be worthwhile." Turns out his "day job" was as an inventor, coming up with ideas for the semiconductor manufacturing industry. How'd that work for him? Lou's answer: "Well, no matter how good my ideas were, I never got paid enough money for it. Someone else always made a fortune off my good ideas. That's just the way life works." Interesting how we project the way OUR OWN lives work as the way LIFE IN GENERAL works, isn't it? What I hear in this brief story is a limiting belief, "No matter how hard I work, or how good I am, I'll never get paid enough." The results of this belief? Lou feels resigned in everything he does, believing that it won't matter anyway. He brings an attitude of, "Who cares? I'm better than this!" to what he does. The end result? He DOESN'T get paid what he feels he deserves. In other words, he proves his own limiting belief true. Here's another example: 25-year-old man, whom I'll call Jason, is an extremely talented guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, percussionist. He walks through the world with the attitude that, "We can do fair business in this world, love the earth, make a living, and provide for our needs." He sings songs that inspire us to live, love, laugh, share, dance, and dream. He doesn't obsess about money. He thanks people for listening. He makes friends easily. He is invited back, again and again. His opportunities grow, seemingly without struggle or effort. He accumulates fans, supporters, and eventually purchasers of his merchandise. He acquires funding, space, and other resources for the projects he truly wants to create. He doesn't hoard ideas, people, space, money, or time. He gives. He stands in his own space, with trust. He expresses his own truth without apology. He welcomes new connections, new ideas, and stays flexible. He walks the earth with a calm energy, with no need to defend or attack, and no sense of grasping or controlling. I am intensely jealous of people like Jason. And yet I also recognize that people like Lou are the miserable curmudgeons I really don’t want to spend any time with. So what does my jealousy mean? It’s a clue to a stuck area in my thinking. My destiny is telling me that everything I see in Jason feels freeing. It’s showing me another possibility – an alternative to the beliefs that have governed my life until now. And the jealousy is the raging battle going on between my fear – the deeply held, almost sacred beliefs I described earlier that I’ll never survive in this world by being free – and my soul’s deep knowledge of what is possible for me. Think there is a fundamental, innate difference between Jason and Lou that just can't be changed? If you're looking at the level of DNA, be my guest. I'll be freeing myself while you search the genome for answers. What I choose to believe is that you need look no farther than the content of their beliefs. Lou believes that nothing will pay off, no matter what. So nothing ever does. Jason believes that he is enough, his gifts are abundant enough, his trust is enough, his dreams are enough, to put out there and show up as simply himself, offering and believing there is a fair trade way to provide value in the world with what he does and who he is. And so he leads his life in such a way that these opportunities find him. Would you rather live your life like Lou or like Jason? It's your choice. Don't blame your childhood, your culture, or your current situation. Take responsibility for becoming AWARE of how you CHOOSE to think, and what you CHOOSE to believe. Then start making the choices you truly want. Realize that you’ll probably have some work to do, some cleaning up of old beliefs that have produced the results you are experiencing right now. Embrace that work as the path to your own freedom. Don’t trust fear. Trust freedom.

Photo of me by Rusty Sterling, used with permission.

Photo of smiley face guitarist by Mr Wilson, used under a Creative Commons license.

2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Closet Musician

  1. thestifledartist

    I like this post, and I can relate. I'm a musician/writer, but don't play out due to a sense of "what if." Recently, I have decided to spend more time working towards goals of sharing my music with others, aside from just working on the music itself often. Anything can happen — but I know that music is one of my callings. Though I don't know where it will take me and I'm not doing it for monetary reward, I don't want to leave this world knowing I never tried at one of the things that fulfills me the most. I definitely don't want to be "that person." I do believe we create what we believe. The world is crazy like that. Feeling positive and thinking good can happen is like stepping off a cliff into the unknown. There could be a landing pad, there could not. But you never know if you never try and putting your gifts out there is not going to kill you. Being negative is just the logical way to stay stuck exactly where you are, because if seems safe to stick with the familiar. Ask me how I know!

    Reply
    1. drlisachu

      @thestifledartist: Thanks for reading, and for sharing your own story. "Feeling positive and thinking good can happen is like stepping off a cliff into the unknown"….Yes, especially when we're not used to practicing that way of thinking and being! But from where I now stand, I know it works to keep practicing, because we really do become what we are practicing. Keep creating and sharing and spreading your love!! Thanks again…

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