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Performing - What's the Big Deal

Posted on May 18, 2020 by Jonathon Bruster

Performance anxiety isn't something that only happens to musicians, singers, actors and dancers. It happens any time we feel pressure to"perform" in a particular situation or over a time period. Writing a book or creating a painting or sculpture may evoke symptoms as well.

Signs of performance anxiety include"butterflies" in the stomach, quickened heart rate or more severe symptoms like hyperventilation, dizziness or extreme fear.

The 5 main causes of performance anxiety are:

We are not present in the moment, within our own body.

When we're focused on our (negative) thoughts and on what we *think* about what is happening, instead of just taking from the sensory information from around us without analyzing it, we miss out on what is happening.

Perfectionism.

Unrealistic expectations can warp our perceptions of how good we really are!

Lack of instruction in performance-specific skills.

Occasionally our training is focused more on the implementation of our art form, rather than especially focused on helping people become comfortable and confident performers. Performing isn't natural for everybody and has to be learned.

Past trauma.

Individuals who have suffered abuse or trauma have a lot harder time being"exposed" in a performance setting. At times, also, we've had traumatic experiences related to our art form - such as critical teachers or harsh performance experiences.

Difficulty connecting with other men and women.

Gifted actors have occasionally grown up very isolated due to time spent with their art form rather than"playing" with their peers. When you normally think of yourself as distinct or an individual, or in relation to"me" and"them", being in front of an audience only magnifies it becomes more challenging to consider the audience as lovingly getting your abilities and gifts. Instead you will see them as judgmental or unkind.