Performance anxiety and particularly stage fright and anxieties over sexual performance gain their power by presenting as being a direct threat to our self worth or even very existence.
The threat is existential of course – concerning the work we do, the kind of person we are or how we are in the most intimate private arena.
Your performance, whether it is a professional actor, or a high class amateur singer or a business woman giving a work presentation or a man desperate to perform in bed – is such a big deal because your very existence and purpose is under threat.
We choose not to rely on our own evaluation. Instead we put ourselves at the mercy of the watchers and we “know” that they will be merciless.
Treating the consequences of performance anxiety
De-traumatising using Rewind will be a part of most relief as experiences of stage fright or possibly humiliation at school (such as standing up in front of the class) is normally an element of what is required. But more is normally needed and there are circumstances where the anxiety around a performance situation (such as speaking at a committee at work) can arise, almost as a phobic reaction to general stress.Building a better relationship with anxiety should normally be handled indirectly. This is because the anxiety response is primarily self consciousness which is healthy in its place but is careering out of hand. What normally helps is to gently put the self consciousness to one side in trance – in order to open up possibilities in that moment of performance – so that it is enjoyed for its own sake.
Reframing, relaxation and visualisations tools such as 7/11 breathing are normally useful. Rehearsal work under trance is always important and often critical simply because the occasion of the performance will be vividly imagined.
Action to get needs met is normally less important than for other anxieties. My experience has been that most performance anxiety clients who see me have the bulk of their life working well. And that it is the circumstances of the anxiety – around say singing in public that is a very particular and even localised threat to their self of self confidence. However there are exceptions, such as Lena (see case studies), where the failure to perform impacted gravely on other vital parts of her life.
Being Present – giving that gift and letting go
Being present means the realisation that it is only in this present moment that there is any reality. The future and the past only exist in our memories and emotions and to spend time there – worrying or fuming is stealing away our lives.
The gift of all performance anxieties is that they demand that we learn this fundamental truth – known to all of the great wisdom traditions.
A performance can only be now and is a gift – as a telephone call, as a breath of wind, as whatever you choose!