If anxiety in some form is not a regular part of your life experience, good for you and you can stop reading now.

Some us come from families in which we felt like outsiders. And my guess is that many of you reading this came into adulthood feeling cut off in some way from your essential being and have worked mightily to find yourself and your true voice.

You’ve learned to be less reactive, more relational with yourself and others, and are on a path toward more and more satisfying work. But when you contemplate getting up in front of a group the anxiety of separation suddenly returns full force. Or you do a fair amount of speaking but the anxiety level (whether low or high) doesn’t abate.

The good news is that being the center of attention does not actually increase anxiety. It simply reveals the underlying anxiety one is living with. The primal reality of being “separated from the herd” strips us of our strategies and coping mechanisms that work in other situations. When we face a group, every fear we’ve had about being abandoned or harmed by others is smack in our face.

The great news is how wonderful it is that this anxiety coming up is so predictable. It means you can enter into a controlled situation in which you can experience the anxiety (again, whether it’s on a high or low level for you) without having to mask, stifle, interpret it, or make yourself wrong for having it.

By practicing taking a full breath, finding one person to exist with in Relational Presence, and giving up the need to perform or even speak, anxiety naturally transforms into positive energy and power. Like the nightmare monster seen out of the corner of your eye until it transforms into a pussycat when confronted head on, the demon has lost its power.

Thus, our true voice becomes more accessible in all aspects of life where underlying, unidentified anxiety has muffled it.

So isn’t it time to invite performance anxiety out of the closet and celebrate it as the doorway to transformation?