Freedom from Performance Anxiety

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The Pain of Performance Anxiety or Stage Fright

Performance Anxiety is something that a large fraction of the population experiences at some point in their lives. This condition is characterised by an overwhelming fear or doubt over one’s ability to perform to their maximum potential. While stage fright is one of the biggest examples of performance anxiety, this fear is not limited to just a fear of performing on a stage in front of hundreds of people. In fact, it can occur even while speaking in front of a handful of friends! Additionally, individuals can experience high levels of performance anxiety even during something as intimate and private as sex. This is because performance anxiety stems from a fear of humiliation or not being accepted by others.


With stage freight and the fear of speaking in public ranking as the number 1 phobia globally, it is essential to do all you can to not only understand what the fear entails, but also how you can combat it! So, keep reading to know everything about performance anxiety:




How can you identify performance anxiety?


Did you know that 3 out of 4 people suffer from some form of performance anxiety? As this condition can range from being a mild form of anxiety that gets your adrenaline up before you give a speech, to a stronger form that leads to panic attacks, it is essential to nip it in the bud before it grows worse.




If you identify with the following signs and symptoms, then you could have performance anxiety:

  • Excessive sweating across your body, mainly your palms and forehead.
  • Heart palpations – this could be either a racing heartbeat or a fluttering one, leading to chills and fluctuating blood pressure.
  • A tight stomach with a feeling of pulling or tugging in the muscles.
  • A high number of errors and fumbles during your performance.
  • Shaking, shivering and trembling knees leading to nausea.
  • Dry mouth and throat that impaires your ability to speak.
  • Changes in vision, leading to blurry images of the things in front of you.
  • Backing out of the performance even before trying.

Causes of performance anxiety


While most researchers aren’t quite sure about why one suffers from anxiety, performance anxiety in particular has been linked with a few tangible causes. These causes range from psychological fears to one’s environment and the impact it has on one’s mental health. Some of these are as follows:




The fear of humiliation


One of the most common causes linked with the development of performance anxiety is the fear of humiliation. Individuals with low self-esteem believe that they are bound to offer up a sub-par performance, which will lead to ridicule that’s likely to follow them for life. While many performers find themselves doubting their ability to perform from time to time, the exaggerated belief in long-term humiliation is what separates healthy nerves from performance anxiety.




Low confidence


Mild to moderate levels of performance anxiety are typically fuelled by low confidence. This factor can fluctuate amongst performers, with confidence being linked not only to an intrinsic belief in oneself, but also additional factors like not feeling prepared, being uncomfortable with the material one has to perform, being uncomfortable with one’s own body, and so on. Even in such cases, treatment methods like hypnotherapy can help individuals overcome their doubts and perform to the best of their abilities.




Past Abuse


Victims of abuse are prone to developing a range of anxiety disorders, with performance anxiety being one of them. While victims of emotional abuse are often told they just aren’t good enough, victims of sexual abuse also shy away from garnering attention, which is why public speaking becomes a huge bone of contention with them. Coming to terms with the abuse is the only way to get past it and grow more comfortable with the idea of performing in front of audiences.




Traumatic experiences


Did you know that performance anxiety can develop even in seasoned performers following a traumatic event? Having delivered a ‘bad’ performance in the past and facing ridicule as a consequence can be quite traumatising. The stigma and shame associated with the even can stay with people for life, making it hard for them to feel comfortable performing in the future.




How does it affect your daily life?


As stated earlier, performance anxiety isn’t just limited to a fear of performing on a stage. It is essentially a fear of speaking to an audience, no matter how large or small that may be, and can be treated on par with a fear of public speaking. The inability to express yourself confidently can impact your life in many different ways such as:



  • Low confidence in the workplace, leading to your superiors believing you lack the required skills to do your job
  • An inability to participate in team meetings or project discussions, which may either lead to others taking credit for your ideas, or your ideas never seeing the light of day
  • A strong reluctance to socialise at work, leading to isolation, lack of meaningful connections, and depression
  • A dependency on substances to cope with the anxiety of speaking to people, which can ultimately lead to drug or alcohol abuse
  • A lack of communication in personal relationships due to the inability to express your thoughts or feelings accurately as you fear being judged
  • Erectile dysfunction or other complications in your sex life that stem from anxiety over being able to perform

  • How to treat performance anxiety?


    One of the best ways to develop great coping mechanisms that reduce your psychological and physical response to stage freight is by participating in hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy focuses on helping you understand how your mind functions with respect to your beliefs, habits, values and life experiences. With just a few sessions, you can be in control of your emotions and physical responses while under stress and improve your performance exponentially. After all, doing so is all about knowing your trigger points and taking control over them to handle pressure, no matter what!





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    Ronal Shah

    Senior Coach

    Ronal is fully dedicated to powering you forward to achieving your ambitious goals. He trained listeners at the Samaritans to help callers in desperate, often suicidal, situations to move onwards and upwards with their lives. Prior to coaching, Ronal was General Manager at a mid sized company helping his staff get over their internal barriers and get massive results. Born in London, he has lived and worked all over the world, including Japan, Netherlands and the US. He is a Master Hypnotist.

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