Friday, July 10, 2009

Performance Anxiety - Getting Free!

The businessman who gets nervous every time he has to give his 30 second elevator speech (yes, there are many); the talented tennis player who feels self-conscious walking onto the court (yes there are many); the gifted violinist who is sure people won't like her performance (just ask her instructor of this prevalence!). These are the people who have the talents to really excel in their passions. And, yes, there are so many people suffering from performance anxiety and not able to share their gifts with ease and satisfaction.

Aaron Beck, a pioneer in the area of "Evaluation Anxiety," described the basic anxiety of performing in front of an audience; of being evaluated. For a lot of performers, no matter if it's business, athletics, or music, the nervous biological disturbances come down to some basic concerns:

1) Will they like me/approve of me?

2) Will they like/approve of my performance? (Often individuals can confuse their own worth with the worth of their performance.)

3) Will I perform "well-enough" to meet my own standards and those of others? Will I perform "well enough" to feel proud and make others proud of me? And conversely, will I avoid embarrassment from others' judgment and my own judgment?

I continue to be amazed, even after 22 years as a practitioner working with a wide variety of people, that we all really want to please people. But it is clear, ALWAYS, that we are our own worst critics. The main person that is nearly impossible to please is us. I work with individuals so they can be pleased with themselves. Sounds simple enough, huh? Oh contraire. There are a host of experiences, beliefs, and blocked emotions all compacted within the physiology of the cell structure. In essence, this blockage can not allow the individual to feel good, let alone “good enough.” It seems to be the core issue to clear -- the rest falls easily in line once we clear these blocking beliefs that create all the self doubt about being good enough.

The "will I be good enough?" is usually expressed by clients as "I'll never be good enough." There is a wide array of experiences that have deeply ingrained this belief into my client's system. But take heart. This belief can and does move out. I see it over and over, often quickly. It's why I love Emotional Freedom Technique as my major tool. It gets this core belief out of the cells' physiology. I see the client beginning to KNOW they are good enough for the performance. And they are. They excel.

The 30 minute elevator speech is given with more enthusiasm and confidence. It is even re-written, since the businessman feels a new sense of himself and what he offers. The tennis player loses her self-consciousness because the evaluation and performance anxiety is gone. The body is calm, self assured, and she is focused and prepared. The violinist has prepared with an absence of pressure. The rehearsals are free and flowing, the fingers move with ease. Many say, after using EFT, "My hands feel really good! I know that sounds weird, but my hands and fingers feel free and really good!" Yes, that's what getting rid of performance anxiety is all about -- getting it out of the physiology of your body. Out of your cells! Possessing the freedom to do your best and feel good about it. Now that's a good thing!

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