Maisel’s provocative book about living the musician’s life dedicates an entire chapter to performance anxiety.
But not the kind where we get paralyzed by stage fright five minutes before curtain. Rather, it’s about the tendency to turn virtually any offstage situation or interaction into a performance, just by inadvertently labeling it as such.
From a psychological perspective, here’s how this process works, according to the doctor’s research.
Artists possess the unique ability to take alluring bits of creative magic and provide the audience with enough of their intelligence, talent, technique and wit, without pause and without hesitation, so that those people will be absorbed, mesmerized, and transported. Amazing. This ability serves them well in their work. But there’s a shadow side. Because as soon as we label something as a performance situation, that situation hypnotizes us by its bigness. We transform an innocent moment into a performance moment simply by thinking a thought. And as a result, we introduce undo pain and anxiety into our lives.
What about you? To what extent, and with what negative consequences, does your mind turn ordinary situations into performance situations, instantly increasing the pressure on yourself?
That’s the central question his book explores. And if you’ve ever found yourself unable to turn it off, unable to not put on a show, perhaps it’s worth a deep dive.
Personally, my performance anxiety stems from a need to control other people’s perceptions of me. To constantly be viewed as special and great. And to sidestep any chance of vulnerability or criticism.
The story my mind tells me is, but if we’re not amazing, we will disappear.
The challenge is, how does one not perform? How does one make something that they are doing no different than the thing before and the thing after? And how can one relax and simply be, without morphing into a goddamn carnival barker all the time?
Maisel gives his patients advice like remain relaxed, don’t worry about potential negative outcomes, remain indifferent to criticism, rejection, and negative judgment; and feel confident that nothing that can transpire will reduce your sense of worthiness or ruin your future chances.
It’s a lot all at once, but the commonality is simple. Trust yourself. Trust the process. Trust the work. Trust the universe. And know that you don’t have to be spectacular to be safe in this world.
Otherwise, when we call a situation a performance, either consciously or unconsciously, we instantly turn that moment into a pressure cooker.
However, when we allow ourselves to hold the moment more normally, without elevating it into something different from life, we drastically decrease the pressure we put on ourselves.
And then we can finally breathe into the joy of the moment.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What kind of performance anxiety do you experience?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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