A student once told me that the most valuable phrase they heard me tell them was "Trust Yourself." Don't get me wrong, I'm not bragging about inventing a"Just Do It" phrase. Trust Yourself isn't exactly bold new territory. In fact, I was a little fed up at the time because the performer - who is very talented - was worrying over the details of a new game he was learning. When he committed to trusting himself, he rocked the scene. It was a breakthrough for him. 

That "Trust youself" moment resonated with me today when CORE Coach Mimi told me that a student admitted to self-doubt. In her telling, he apparently reacted onstage facially, but could not utter a sound because he questioned what would come out of his mouth. Her response was something like, "Your face told us you wanted to say something. Say what you wanted to say."

Over ten years ago, I was auditioning prospective performers for CITY Improv and a man came onstage, tried to talk, made a sound like Helen Keller, turned around, and walked offstage. He did not make the cast. But he auditioned multiple times. Now he is one of the CORE coaches and I have had the pleasure of working with him for a decade. Steven Vance is a valuable repository of improv knowledge and a heck of a performer. What differentiates him today from a decade ago is that self trust he lacked for the audition. Now, he drips with confidence and every scene is a study in patience.

I've been using this analogy a lot lately: Your brain is a computer. As a young improviser, you want to process as few things as possible. Those "things" can take the form of too many bodies onstage, getting hammered by endowments from an over-zealous scene partner, or just plain fear. Each one of those things sucks up processing power. 

So how to remove the fear? Well, we can talk about that next time. Let's just keep it simple and say, "Trust yourself" for now. It worked for one person. Maybe that phrase will work for you.