Amy Firth | Singer/Songwriter

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"...when your armour is made of gratitude, you find yourself getting up time and time again and charging headfirst into that screaming inferno of doubt because it will always be worthwhile. Gratitude trumps fear every time."

Amy Firth is an Australian singer/songwriter based in London.  She shines light into the dark corners where worthiness and shame can often put a quick halt to the creative process. She also shares her theories on how to silence the inner critic and step through the fears that chaperone a creative livelihood.

When you breathe into fear it becomes adventure. What was one of your most terrifying/rewarding experiences? I've recently learnt that truly breathing into fear means leaning into the uncomfortable. This may seem obvious but I had this concept pegged all wrong for a long time. I've had many people say to me "I could never do what you do, getting up there on stage & singing your heart out to strangers - that takes real guts!" Hence, I gradually developed a false sense of 'courage' simply because so many people had told me what I did was 'brave'. I'd gallantly stride on to stage & emphatically wax lyrical about authenticity & courage & leaning into fear because supposedly, I was walkin the walk. What I soon realised however is that when I'm on stage sharing my music, I am at my most complete, my most authentic, my most grateful, my most powerful - I'm straddling the very bullseye of my comfort zone, hell - I'm kicking back with a swirling glass of cognac & a cuban cigar - so what do I really know about courage?! I soon learnt that like pain - fear & courage are relative. Everyone feels these things very differently due to their own conditioning and experiences. Once I truly understood this, courage  (for me) very quickly changed course - it was what got me on the bus to attend my first meditation retreat, it's what nudges me to take a run along the canal amongst the 'real joggers', it's what urges me to swallow my pride & ask my girlfriend for help. Leaning into the spaces that may make you wince is where we truly find the kind of courage that allows us to really grow & heal & create - and that is one hell of an adventure worth having.

Worthlessness, lack of self-belief, perfectionism there are many blocks that prevent us from leaning into vulnerability. How do you move past them? What do those blocks & blurts look like for you? What do you think we can do to make them less controlling/dominant? ‘Who do I think I am getting up there expecting people to listen?!’ In the past, this single question has kept my creativity dormant for months at a time.  It is an instant trapdoor into a rabbit hole of shame and is something I have always struggled with. Ironically, the turning point for me came in 2011 through enormous loss and amongst the grief I found gratitude in its purest form.  This instantly dismissed any demons of doubt because I understood with all of my being that what I had was a gift, my life was an an absolute privilege. For the first time in my life I stopped apologising for my talents & practiced gratitude for my gifts. I nurtured my creativity like the precious blessing that it is.

When gratitude & humility are at the core of your creativity, ego & doubt don’t even get a look in – the entire process becomes a blessing.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its frustrations and challenges and moments of utter despair – but the game-changer is that these challenges don’t completely debunk & undermine the outcome.  It’s not meant to be easy – and more often than not we have to move through the thorny, ugly stuff to find those hidden nuggets of calm beauty – but when your armour is made of gratitude you find yourself getting up time and time again and charging headfirst into that screaming inferno of doubt because it will always be worthwhile. At the end of the day, gratitude trumps fear every time.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
 talented and fabulous?

 Actually, who are you not to be?” from Our Greatest Fear by Marianne Williamson > New EP album 'Watchmaker's Daughter' available on iTunes. Amy recently spoke at TEDx Russell Square in London, elaborating on the importance of Gratitude... [youtube]

Tiago de Luca | Lecturer & Writer