When I decided to pursue a childhood dream of singing and went along to my first performers evening, I was mortified when I got up to sing. As I opened my mouth I heard a weird strangled sound more reminiscent of an injured animal! My diaphragm locked up like a tight fist and my lips wriggled around independently like a pair of worms! The rest of my performance that evening is thankfully a fuzzy haze!
I had the classic Fight, Flight or Freeze symptoms one might experience in the face of eminent disaster such as being attacked or having a near miss in a car.
Singing was something I wanted to do, so I decided I was not going to be beaten by this poor experience. Using my training and experience as psychotherapist and hypnotherapist I applied to myself, all the techniques and practices I might offer a client experiencing performance anxiety.
I liken public performance to standing naked in front of a group of people! You really are exposing your most vulnerable self. This means your self-esteem is very much linked to your performance. Trouble is, if your good sense of self is totally dependent on others having to like you or think well of you, then you’re even more vulnerable because that’s is something you have no control over.
- Meditation: When you develop a regular meditation habit you build up a strong association with the peace that resides in you. Over time you gain insights and ‘aha’ moments help you to know who you who you really are. This helps develop a better sense of self that comes from within and fosters more self-acceptance.
- Practice the ‘Kettle’ breath: This short breath practice will help you blow away nerves and tension. It helps relax the diaphragm and makes more space for deep breathing which relaxes the body and calms the mind. Here’s How: breathe in deeply, breathe out of your mouth with a shhhhh or ssssss for as long as you can, right toward the end of this outbreath draw back and upwards from the space behind your pubis to encourage that shhhh for a little bit longer then relax and repeat.
- Regular Listening to a Confidence Building Audio Program: I never wait until the performance is upon me to big up my confidence, I’ll start that process a good two to three weeks before by listening to a confidence building audio program such as Stress Free with Confidence or Super Charge Your Confidence. Hypnosis is one of the quickest ways to change a mindset and dissolve negative feelings. Listen on earphones last thing at night or first thing in the morning before you get out of bed.
- Project A Positive Performance: Whenever you think about your upcoming performance make sure you’re projecting positive pictures of that future event. Common sense really, why would you project disastrous images? But people do! Develop a regular habit of relaxing yourself and then run an internal picture show of your most perfect performance, see people smiling, nodding and applauding. Soak it up.
- Affirmations Work! Make Sure Yours Are Positive: What we say to ourselves is so important. The background chatter in the back of your mind can either be supportive and helpful or negative and wounding. So practice and choose your thoughts, because you can! Since repetition is the mother of all skill repeating positive affirmations will eventually embed them into the fertile soil of the subconscious mind… but don’t wait until your performance is upon you, start your affirmations NOW!
If you’re a performer and think your anxiety goes deeper you might find a one-to-one or telephone consultation with me would help you address these issues leaving you free to do what you want to do well and with confidence so feel free to contact me.