Performance Anxiety Isn’t What You Think….
By Christine Brondyke
It’s so common for performers to experience anxiety prior to going on stage that it’s expected that it’s a hurdle that everyone must simply bear. Many performers have specific ways of dealing with the butterflies (or buffalo?!) that dance in their bellies before a show—including vomiting, pushing the feeling down as far as it will go, and/or jumping around nervously backstage while breathing like they’re in labor.
What isn’t common knowledge, is the reason for such a pronounced case of nerves in the first place. Consider this….You’ve set a goal…you’ve said “YES!” to the opportunity to give the world the gift of your talent, and just as the moment arrives to offer it…instant discomfort! Why?! Is it a curse meant to hinder your ability and creativity just when you need it most??… No, it’s actually the opposite! The fear you feel, is the additional energy you need to do the best job you’ve set out to do. The Universe is friendly, so when we commit to a larger experience of ourselves, we need additional energy access our greatest magnificence. It just happens to show up in the form of gyrating abdominal flurries! It’s energy! Not coincidentally, it’s also the exact kind of energy that you need to perform your best. So don’t squash it, ignore it, and certainly don’t hate that it’s there, because it’s there FOR you.
How can you liberate this energy to support your intention to perform at your best? Breathe! Breathe toward the sensations of galloping giraffes, open the front of your body and allow the energy to flow where it needs to. Give yourself some time to pretend that you’re a conduit for energetic flow—like a garden hose—and let that fear move like waves in the ocean as you touch it with your breath.
One of my clients was almost crippled by his performance anxiety, until he realized that with some conscious breathing, and allowance for flow, the energy travelled to his hands, which is exactly where he needed it as a jazz guitarist! So next time you feel burdened by those old familiar nerves, consider that they have shown up as a gift, to support your voice, your breath, and your body, so that you might blow the socks off your audience with your brilliance!!