Many of us already know the feeling of facing something new or unfamiliar. Some of us may be worried about freezing in the moment and missing opportunities but a little bit of preparedness can go a long way.
Speaking at the Pendulum Summit in the Convention Centre Dublin, Erik Wahl said that the key to not choking is both awareness and breathing.
"[When we choke], we physically freeze, our face will become tighter.. and it's through experiencing being able to realise I feel my body freezing up, I feel these emotions," he said.
"The breath is key. Awareness first and then the breathing releases it. That's how we minimise the cortisol and start to release the adrenaline to think freely, to feel confident in this space of uncertainty".
When the human body is faced with uncertainty, it release cortisol, which can freeze the mind and shrink our idea frames. A big part of overcoming that, says Wahl, is to be aware of it, not to be concerned about it, acknowledge it and then step outside of it.
"That's when athletes say they choke, they release cortisol and shrunk their mind instead of opening up into possibilities where all of a sudden adrenaline takes over and we seize that moment instead of that moment seizing us".
The artist and author says that growth and comfort can't co-exist so therefore we need to become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Embracing that is where you will find adventure and exploration.
Through exploration... [I] know it's not all or nothing," he said. "I know my framework, I know my structures, I know my fail-safes but I also know where I can take mini risks and explore new ideas [and] still know that the home base is still set up".
As for his main advice for those who freeze up, Wahl says that the key to creativity is to have structure. He is aware that it's a paradox but it's one that's important to realise.
"Structure creates freedom. That's the paradox of creativity and new ideas is... controlling our emotions, not letting our emotions control us," he said.
"Just being aware of them, breathe through and then step into the unknown, into exploration, into new ideas, new relationships, new connections but it's that discipline and structure that creates that freedom".
- Words by Quinton O'Reilly, video interview by Sínann Fetherston
We spoke with Erik Wahl at the Pendulum Summit which is running in Dublin's Convention Centre on January 9th & 10th 2019.