Coping with Anxiety: An Excerpt from the book ‘Staying Sane in the Music Game’ by Brett Leboff


Anxiety can come from taking the thoughts that come into your head and believing them, taking some ownership over them. You make the decision that, because you've been thinking them, they must be real and true to you.

However, we all have thoughts like this, thoughts that are so self-deprecating that you get into a really dark space and have a low opinion of yourself. Terrible thoughts of doing terrible things; embarrassing thoughts of doing naughty things, mischievous thoughts, playful thoughts.

The great thing about thoughts is you can decide to let them go, you do not need to take them on board as truth. I believe that thoughts are flowing through us all the time from a field of consciousness that, maybe, we don't yet understand.  The idea that these thoughts are then believed to be part of you and that they are YOUR thoughts is, in my opinion, false. Well, yes, you are not your thoughts, but you may own a thought.

Picture the scene; it is your life...You are walking through life on a stoney beach, there is beauty always to the left of you, all you see is the expansiveness of the sea, the colour of the sky, hearing the sounds of the crashing waves. As you walk on the beach, you see a stone that speaks to you, it is heavy, you walk with it for some time in your pocket. You don’t really like this stone, but you have decided for some reason, almost unconsciously, to walk with it. A little further down the beach, after some considerable time, you find another stone, this one heavier than before and you put that one in your pocket. You are feeling heavier. Before you have even given yourself a chance to consider how heavy these stones are, you see another stone and you are drawn to it. This stone is, perhaps, even larger than the one before. Without thinking anything more, you pick up the stone and add this one to the others stones in your pocket. This is almost becoming habitual now!

You continue picking up stones, putting them in your pocket. Sometimes you have a handful of stones that you pick up and drop in quick succession. Instead of looking at the beautiful ocean, listening to the sounds of seagulls, waves and seeing the sunshine, your gaze is entirely fixed on stones, picking up, pocketing, picking up, inspecting. You have been continuously picking up a stone and putting them in your pocket for a long time now!

The stone is in some way a part of you (It’s in your pocket) but it is not actually you - you can drop them at any time! You can look at the sea, breath and enjoy the view, whilst noticing the stones on the floor and acknowledging them, without picking them up and holding them, or putting them in your pocket. You can even pick up a stone, look at it and observe it, ‘understand it’ and then put it back down again.

Same with a thought, for a brief time it is a part of you, but once you realise you don’t NEED to identify with it, you can drop it and only then, it is truly separate from you. 

- An Excerpt from the book ‘Staying Sane in the Music Game’ by Brett Leboff (Release Spring 2018, Monumental Publishing)


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Over the past 20 years, Brett Leboff has been a Professional Drummer, a Music Manager and now runs an Artist Development Agency with Si Chai at Diplomats of Sound. His new book will be released in May and is published through his own Monumental brand - ‘Monumental Publishing’. You can find out more about the project here