[cue light bulb]
Happy Monday, beautiful beings!
I’m so thrilled to kick off another week of exploration, discovery, and practice in the journey of being creators of your life, of art, and of possibility by looking at something that I’ve deeply struggled with personally:
stage fright and performance anxiety
Before you watch the video below on strategies and tips to overcome this very normal part of being a performer, I want to share a piece of my story for some background.
I don’t think it’s something I’ve shared a lot about publicly, but it is something that has felt like a nemesis of mine for years. In fact, it was one of the reasons I stopped singing for over a year after grad school. I couldn’t bear one more conversation about how it was important for me to not only represent myself well and but also my very prestigious teacher when performing in front of discerning ears. The stress, fear, and pressure I was internalizing to sing my absolute best during auditions and performances was not only taking a toll on my nerves and anxiety, but also on my body in the form of debilitating acid reflux.
I can honestly say if it weren’t for getting healthy and then hiring a life coach, I definitely would have waved my white flag and said enough’s enough with this whole singing thing... Funnily enough, though, when I started life coaching other performers, it wasn’t long before they, too, wanted to overcome this very thing that I struggled with myself. Looking at it from the outside (and not getting caught in the web of my own fears and stories), it became clear where I and so many others were going wrong:
I thought that something was wrong with me, and that if I could just fix it, I’d be good enough.
I walked into every room, relationship, and opportunity thinking I needed to DO something else in order to be enough.
The heartbreaking thing about that belief is that I walked into every room, relationship, and opportunity thinking I needed to DO something else in order to be enough. I looked anywhere and everywhere to fill that void of self-worth. I would work harder to sing (creating more tension in my body, tongue, and jaw), work harder to win the approval of mentors (creating toxic power dynamics), audition for more and more places (creating more ways to prove my value and worth, and gather evidence that I needed more fixing to get to the next level), and to top it all off I made it all mean something about who I am and what I’m capable of as a person. Instead of success being the natural consequence of my practice and my heart’s passion -- it was instead like a tapeworm that consumed endlessly and was never satiated.
Chasing my self-worth through success meant that no matter how much I achieved, it still felt dull and numb deep down; and the more I failed, the more I had to lose and the greater my anxiety.
So part of my own mindset work had to begin with a revolution in self-love and knowing I don’t need fixing.
I had to go beyond just knowing in my head... I had to know it in my heart.
I had to go beyond just knowing in my head that fear is a natural part of being a human, go beyond knowing in my head that my career doesn’t define my worth, go beyond knowing in my head that there’s nothing wrong with me -- I had to know it in my heart.
I took a look deep down, and I got real with myself. I was going to keep sabotaging my performances and auditions with stage fright and performance anxiety (and feeling unfulfilled even when I did succeed) if I didn’t learn how to love myself no matter what. And the more I did the work to take away all the conditions and boundaries I had to loving myself exactly as I was, without anything to prove or earn or fix, the nerves started shrinking. I knew I wasn’t going to die or be abandoned or be unlovable -- and the fear lost its grip, one audition and performance at a time.
So, take a look. Deep down. In the corners of your being and consciousness.
Do you *know* that you’re actually perfect exactly as you are? Exactly where you are?
Because you are.
For real, for real?
Good -- now maybe you’ll get something out of this video that isn’t trying to fix your perfect self. ;)