For some people, the cause of anxiety may be quite specific, as in performing before an audience. This is called performance anxiety, or in terms more popular with a lot of people, stage fright. The signs of this anxiety are clear. Cold, clammy hands, palpitation, breaking out in a cold sweat, difficulty in breathing are some of the signs. People get the jitters at one time or another. People go through the experience of feeling the embarrassing pressing need to go to the bathroom at an inconvenient time. The list can try and on, and all of these symptoms come from having to perform before an audience.
It does not matter what type of performance you are about to give. You may have to give a speech. You may have to play the violin, the guitar, the piano, or some other musical instrument. You may have to dance — the ballet, jazz, ballroom dancing. Whatever it is that you are primed to do, anxiety makes performing painful.
A person who is not sure that he is ready enough to perform before a group of people is likely to feel anxious. These doubts may bring on by the knowledge that the person has not practiced enough, or has not developed the proficiency necessary to perform well in public.
A person who has stage fright is likely to feel like he is about to face the guillotine in the person of his audience. He wants to be well-thought of, to gain the approval of his audience. He wants to be admired for his skills, applauded and recognized for his talent. And he fears the opposite. He feels he is not good enough. He is scared that people may simply jeer at him. He thinks he is not ready enough to give a performance that people will think of as outstanding and worthy of their time. He thinks he will be a great big failure. And he becomes frantic to end it all, to rush through his performance to end the misery.
Performance anxiety is counter-productive. It defeats the purpose of performing before an audience. It depletes you of energy, as well as of the pleasurable anticipation of showcasing your talent before an audience. It makes you nervous and edgy. And it makes you prone to commit mistakes…and more mistakes.
It is thus important that you find a way to overcome your anxiety. The use of medication to reduce anxiety may help do just that…bring down the anxiety. However, it also makes you unable to feel the exhilaration of being engaged in your performance. It dulls your senses (as it quiets the anxiety) and diminishes the anticipatory eagerness, and even makes you unable to feel the enthralled satisfaction that comes after the performance.
• Prepare for your performance. Get a lot of practice. Only by doing this can you feel confident that you are well able to deliver a performance you can be proud of.
• Make sure that the piece you will play in public, or the dance choreography, or the speech you will give, is commensurate with your skills. Do not aspire for a piece way beyond your talent. This will just trigger great anxiety, and justifiably so. Work within the talent given you or within the level of your competence.
• Do not measure the joy that comes from performing, by the way, and the audience reacts to your performance. Dance as if no one was watching. Sing as if no one is listening. Take personal pleasure in your talent.
• Perform. Perform. Perform. The more performances you make, the more confident you will be.2016-08-19