I had a decent ability to stay in my body and [notice] I’m feeling anxious even if I didn’t know the cause of it.

I would listen to my body cues and when I got anxious it was like having a neon sign saying, “Something’s up, pay attention.”

I would go toward the uncomfortableness and ask myself, “What are the gremlins saying in my head. What are the lies? What is my brain telling me?”

One time I had to do a film with Ang Lee. It was high pressure. I was a music singer. I didn’t act. The gremlins really started coming up.

I started telling myself:

“I’m going to fail. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t belong here. I don’t know what I’m doing came up over and over and over for me.”

I started writing down the lies. I would write down the lies on the left hand side of the paper and write my antidotes on the right, which was the truth.

What is the truth for me really? What is the antidote that cancels out that negative feeling?

My antidote was that I’m capable of learning. It isn’t that I know the answers but I am capable of learning.

I would go lie for lie and then write down truth for truth. Every time I started having anxiety and I heard a lie in my head, I would replace it with my antidote. The truth is I am capable of learning. The truth is I believe in me. The truth is I’m allowed to make mistakes and I’m still lovable.

I had to start giving myself all kinds of messages.

I started to show myself kindness. I started to be willing to say, “You know what is winning in this situation?” For instance in this situation, is it being the best actress or is it saying, “I showed up today and I tried my hardest?”

I didn’t let fear and other things inhibit me. [Instead I thought] I can try even harder tomorrow – that started being a real game changer.

The other thing for me is this concept that hardwood grows slowly.

I studied nature because I was raised outdoors in Alaska. I saw everything in nature had a rhythm.

What I learned is that pain has a rhythm just like nature and I had to learn how to trust the rhythm.

If I was sad it just meant the tide was out that day, but that the tide was going to come back in. [Therefore] you can sit in sadness. You can sit in grief and [cope with] whatever the darker emotions are because you know the tides are going to come back around, that nothing’s constant, it’s not forever.

Then I began watching trees. The trees that lasted a long time and weathered every storm were these hardwood trees. They took a long time to grow. They had beautiful shade and they were resilient. They knew bending was actually resiliency.

Anything rigid in nature dies. And so I began to look at myself and go, “If I was a hardwood tree, what does that metaphor mean in human terms?”

It means deep root systems – that’s what helps us (humans) weather storms.

For me my root system are my values.

I began to write down my values.

“Who and what am I, what do I stand for? And then every single day I would make sure I was acting in line with those values. I would do a self-audit before I went to sleep. Did I say this according to my values, did I act like this according to my values?”

You have to do the self-audit with love. You can’t be self-shaming.

When I didn’t act on my values I would make amends and I would go back at it the next day.

“I tell my five year old that our compass in the forest of life is our values. That’s our north star.”

As long as you’re acting in line with your values every day, you’re going to have an outcome, you’re going to look back on your life and go, “I am the person I wanted to be. I didn’t get distracted by fame. I didn’t get distracted by power. I didn’t get distracted by depression and fear because I lived my values.”

That’s your guarantee. That’s your blueprint.

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Singer-Songwriter |

Jewel Kilcher is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, actress, author, and poet. She has received four Grammy Award nominations and, as of 2008, has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.