Fight or flight (pt 4 of a series)

March weekly series topic deals with “Fear” and how it relates to independent artists careers.

“Too many of us are not living our dreams, because we are living our fears”- Les Brown, speaker

Every one of us has fears of one type or another.  Tall buildings, fear of needles, or fear of a wiggly or odd- looking creatures.

 For me, spiders, and being in large groups of people are on the top of my fear list.
  Professionally, being afraid of spiders doesn’t effect me on a regular basis but being in large groups of people is part of my job, and having this be one of my phobia’s – could have been career ending as a speaker, performer, and artist. 

Most people who meet me are pretty surprised that I fear being in large groups of people, since we are usually meeting at a conference, festival, or workshop with LOTS of people around!  It is something that I have spent years working on, using the desire and passion that inspires me to create and help others create to diminish the fear that would have paralyzed me.  If I left the fear in place? Then  it would have  prevented me from touring nationally as a artist, speaking at conferences like, NAMM, ASCAP Awards, & SXSW.  Those experiences were some of the most exciting times in my career, that I would have missed if I didn't do something.
  That same tool of desire and passion are in your artistic tool-box, and you too can put fears that stop you behind you too!


Let's step back and examine what "Fear" is really all about.

“Fear” is our reaction to a distressing negative sensation by a perceived threat to our safety.  It is one of our most primal instincts of basic survival, part of our autonomic response to "fight or flight". These responses in modern times have assumed a wider range of behaviors. For example, the fight response may be manifested in angry, argumentative behavior, and the flight response may be manifested through social withdrawal, or perhaps substance abuse.

Fear almost always relates to a worsening situation channeling our energy away from the perceived threat, into directions or even old behaviors that seem safe.  
We can leave fears like spoiled children to run free in our creative house shutting doors and windows, locking inside our potential, dreams, and hopes. Or we can use our own tool box to unlock the doors and windows.


There is nothing like that ol’ time Religion to inspire your feelings!
Be good and follow the “rules” and you go to HEAVEN, if you don’t, you are BAD and of course, bad people go to Hell. Despite Hell being a much warmer climate, we are conditioned that being bad and hell are undesirable destinations, and what ever spiritual guidelines your people prescribe to, will determine which behaviors you will be encouraged to follow.

The media does it’s  fair share to manipulate and exploit the message of fear every day. Simply turn on the evening news. You are flooded with images, economic failure, losing your home, and of course “Terrorists”. Who have replaced the communists as the evil dark forces we are told to fear most.

Phobia’s are common and do not need to cause ongoing distress or disrupt your life to limit you from achieving your full potential.

You have control. You can turn off a TV or radio station to limit the influx of negative reinforcements. However, if you find you are avoiding situations or places, or that your fear is resulting in disabling anxiety, fear, or panic you may need the support a professional therapist to help you overcome your phobia.

It’s natural to want to run and hide. You can’t undo the fight or flight response,  Remember, flight isn’t your only option, you have the opportunity to face your fears, and reclaim control.
By gradually exposing yourself to your fear will help remove the anxiety and fear.

 For example if you are afraid of heights, if you have a normal fear, you may feel anxious or have butterfly’s in your stomach and sweaty palms as you peer down from a window in a tall building. You have a Phobia, if your fear of the tall building results in you turning down a awesome job,  because it is on the 15thfloor. 


Make a list of the situations that you fear the most, then arrange those items from least scary to most scary. For example if Tall buildings are your fear you may list riding in the elevator, or even pushing the button as part of a scary situation that you prioritize.

As you make your list(s) notice the feelings you experience as you write down each item, do you notice a churning stomach, sweaty palms, or increased respiration?   Remember, you are just making a list, putting words on a page, you are safe, and nothing bad is happening, That odd feeling your having is you trying a new behavior!   What is at the top of your fear list?   Let us know in the comment section below,

Tamra Engle is a independent music business strategist based in the S.F. bay area she is available to help you manage your next creative project, for private consultations to help you develop your independent business, or to produce your next demo, EP, or CD You can read more about her, and join her mailing list at  you can email her at   

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The Creative Vampires (pt 3 of Fear series)

Each Month the Business Strategist deals with a different topic theme.
This Month "Fear" and  how it relates to independent artists careers is discussed in weekly segments.

The Creative Vampires:    (pt 3 of a series*)

“It is the most challenging work for human beings to connect within themselves in a loving, accepting, respectful way, and then to connect with other human beings in a loving, respectful, accepting way”-source

To keep growing as an artist you have to take a good look inside and clear away our own internal demons. Your creativity is like a garden, you tend to it and provide  periodic maintaince and it provides you with  long healthy relationships and a successful career doing something you love, while helping others.
Since you were a small person your parents, family, teachers and members of your spiritual community have been generous no doubt in providing you their opinions (beliefs) on how you should live your life. They weigh in about you being a artist. Some love, some hate, some become manipulative and create chaos and drama in your world.
They are Creative Vampires.

Despite everyone’s good or bad intentions their opinons and beliefs are seeds being tossed into your creative garden. Before you know it, You have a whole garden choked full of everyone’s thoughts, fears, and opinions.  You absolutely have to go through your inner garden and clear out the bad seedlings and weeds planted by you and others, so you can  make room for good things, like your vision, creativity and relationships grow!


While you are attending to your personal garden you will find that some friends or family members will question why you are bothering with the internal house cleaning?  They may even accuse you of being selfish or different.
Some are so afraid and uncomfortable with any change, they attempt to lure us back to old ways and give up good habits to make themselves feel better.  They are often frustrated artists who are blocked by their own negative beliefs.

When we follow someone else’s plan for us, it’s a recipe  to end up frustrated,stuck or lost.
Take the time to create your own plan and vision. Put yourself as artists in charge. You will have a roadmap so when you stop for gardening, maintenance  or rest, you can resume your journey where you last stopped.

Think back in your life, start with the past 5 yrs, then the 5 years before that until you’re a child.
Who have the creative vampires been in your life? 
Was it a friend, parent, teacher, spouse, or loved one?
Write down details that come to mind,  how old you are, clothing, smells,  the color of the room, how you felt, any information that annoys or upsets you about the situation.

Create a cartoon, song, or even write a note, to the creative vampire, your not going to send this to the individual, Express how you feel, defend yourself, or make a parody of them…It doesn’t have to be elaborate, or crazy. Just a simple creative vehicle to help you personally confront, the creative demon, and take it’s power away from it.

*Previous Postings discussing Artists / Fear

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JOIN NOW:  Artist MasterClass: Monthly topics, Syllabus with tips and exercises to help you grow your creative business, and have successful lifestyle re-alignments. 

Master Class- FEAR
Master Class- VISIBILITY

About the Author
Tamra Engle is a independent business strategist, artist, speaker and  blogger who writes as GuitarTam based in the S.F. bay area. She is available to help you manage your next project, for private consultations to help you develop your independent music business, or to  produce your next musical demo. You can read more about her,  and join her mailing list at  you can email her at


Quote adapted from:  
True Blood Photo: Source:  True Blood Alan Ball/ HBO Entertainment©
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Meet the little Monsters (Pt 2 Fear Series)


 March weekly series topic deals with “Fear” and how it relates to independent artists careers.

As human beings we all want to be acknowledged for our efforts as well as our triumphs.
 Parental support of our artistic pursuits is not common. Rather than live with the fear of not being taken seriously, or not taking ourselves seriously, many retreat into the shadows, behind barricades built by criticism, when these barricades are  left unattended they harden like little cement walls. These little cement blockades limit our creative growth, when the creative muse is trying to stretch.

Imagine that you live on a great big farm, in a comfortable home surrounded all around by land filled with many trees, thick brush, and heavy foliage. 

You have one long bike path that leads to the main highway, all along the path are these “cement barriers” along the route, making the path difficult to navigate. The path to the highway is much too long to walk, and riding a bike will insure that you get to the main path where the other "riders" are peddling along  down the street.

Learning to let yourself create is like learning to ride a bike, you start with baby steps to gain your confidence,  you learn balance, and technique, you pray that you avoid any obstacles along the way. You are learning, be patient and understand your initial efforts are not going to be masterpieces. Critics will unfairly judge your work against master artists, since that is what “they believe” to be the standard other artists are measured against.
Regardless, what level of success you achieve, the struggle continues.
Master artists struggle with pleasing their fan base, and satisfying their creative muse- Think about when  Bob Dylan went electric, or In this video clip where  Joni Mitchell shares some amazing insights on  Jimi Hendrix