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Why Singers Get Performance Anxiety
Performance anxiety for singers is really common. There are an infinite number of root causes of nerves, performance anxiety and stage fright. Some of them are…
Not being prepared enough
Lack of experience singing on stage
The desire to do well
The need to impress
Pressure from family and peers
Anxious or nervous personality
Self preservation and protection
… the list can go on and on and on, but these are some of the most common causes of performance anxiety I’ve seen among singers at my clinic. I pretty suffered from all of them when I was a young performer trying to make it in the industry, and you can read my story here of how I overcame low self-esteem, nerves and severe panic attacks
But I would say the the top number one, most common reason for nerves, performance anxiety and stage fright is this - THE FEAR OF THE TRIBE REJECTING YOU.
Let me explain…
The Most Common Cause of Performance Anxiety For Singers
Your brain is divided into different sections. Your primal brain is responsible for survival, drive, and instinct. This is the part of the brain that kept us alive throughout the time of the caveman and allowed us to evolve to how we are today.
The primal part of the brain is still VERY active, and VERY powerful. One of our primal needs and instincts is to be accepted as part of the community. Back in the distant past, if we were cast out of the tribe, your fate was doomed to death as a result of no food, shelter or protection. And subconsciously we remember this…
We all have a great desire to be liked, loved and accepted. For the singer the idea of being rejected by a whole audience of people, for the primal brain, is unbearable. To the primal brain it means death. LITERALLY. It is no wonder nerves, performance anxiety and stage fright are so common among singers.
Now of course, we know that death is not REALLY going to happen. But the primal brain doesn’t have the ability to discern. That’s why you have the frontal lobe which is responsible for planning the future, judgment, decision-making skills, attention span and inhibition.
Use Your Mind To Overcome Performance Anxiety When You Sing
When I work with singers as a therapist and coach, one of the most important parts of overcoming nerves, performance anxiety or stage fright is by stopping the primal brain from taking over and giving the steering wheel back to the frontal lobe - which is a much calmer, easier and safer place to be in general.
So how can YOU do this? Let me share 3 simple techniques you can use to help calm yourself when you sing.
Emotional Stress Release (ESR) For
Singers Performance Anxiety
Emotional Stress Release is a simple but powerful technique you can use to quickly calm your nervous system if you suffer from performance anxiety when you sing.
It simply consists of putting your fingers or your hand on your forehead like in the image here below - you’ll notice that his is an action you naturally perform when under stress. Look familiar?
So ask yourself the question - why is it that this is a universal physical action we take when we are stressed?
Well it’s because it has a really important function to play. Your hands and fingers carry a lot of electrical positive and negative charge (that’s why you can get electric shocks from people, lifts or escalators).
When you place you electrically charged hands on the forehead you bring energy and blood flow to your frontal lobes, located just behind the forehead. Your frontal lobes are responsible for planning, strategies, logical thinking and figuring stuff out.
So next time you experience performance anxiety when you sing (or indeed at anytime in your life) simply take your fingers or your hand to your forehead and take some deep breaths. Allow yourself to think about the stress and what is causing you performance anxiety and simply allow your brain to do what it’s best at; PROBLEM SOLVING! Try it, it’s really cool and it will massively help you when you get performance anxiety, nerves or stage fright.
2. Create Future History And Make
Performance Anxiety A Thing Of The Past
We are very good at imagining everything going wrong when we perform. We are great at asking questions like “what if I forget my words”, “what if I crack that high note”, “what if everyone hates me!” This is called Creating Future History. You are literally rehearsing what the future will be like for you, which then becomes the history with which to prove how you’re not good enough. It’s an endless and vicious cycle.
Your marvellous brains’ job is to answer any question you ask it. It doesn’t care about WHAT you ask it, it will just show you, through images in your imagination, all the possible outcomes of the question you ask it.
And even worse, your physical body starts to respond as if those things are actually happening. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes shallow. You are already rehearsing everything that can go wrong before you’re even on stage. NOT GOOD!
What you’re you’re doing is allowing your mind to work on automatic, and then you become a slave to the emotions those thoughts ignite within you.
I invite you to make a conscious effort to start to ask yourself different questions. Start by asking yourself “what if I am actually a great performer?”, “what if I’m word perfect?” and “what if the audience really warm to me and like me?”
When you ask these questions allow your mind to show you those answers instead. Allow your imagination to run wild with the possibilities. Relish in the day dream and just smile. This is just an introduction to Creating Future History. I go into full, deep detail on this technique in my online course “Nerve Buster For Singers: 5 Steps To Unshakeable Confidence”. On the 12 day program I teach you how to completely change the neural make-up of your brain when it comes to singing and performance anxiety, so you can be free from nerves forever.
Please don’t underestimate the power of this simple technique. You are doing it anyway, all day, everyday, on automatic, so why not actually control and make it work for you. Go and Create Future History.
3. Coaching and Therapy For Singers
Sorry to break it to you, but a million singing lessons won’t get you to where you want to be if you do not do some form of emotional and psychological internal self development work. Your problem is not your voice as much as it is your mind. And the mind of the singer is an interesting one. We overthink… ALOT. We even overthink our overthinking. And then we overthink that.
You see, it’s not your voice that controls your voice. It’s your mind that controls your voice. If you can understand this ONE powerful thing, and start to develop your belief systems, heal your wounds from the past and harness your inner power and confidence, it is my promise to you that your voice will begin to do things you never imagined possible, without even doing voice exercises. NOTE: I am advising you skip your exercises. Quite the opposite. You will get much more benefit from them when you sort out your mind.
I see this time and time and time and time and time and time again with the clients I work with. When we do the deep internal healing work around not feeling good enough, not feeling worthy of success, comparing self to others and the rest of it, the voice begins to open and release and work in an entirely new way.
Suddenly the subconscious mind learns that it is safe to sing and that nothing bad is going to happen. And then it does everything in its power to support you to do what you love…
To sing, and to sing well. To step on stage when and where it matters and put in your best performance.
To step off stage and feel good about yourself. To tell yourself what went well. And to have a healthy relationship with positive self reflection instead of criticism and judgement.
To feel good enough and like you deserve to be heard.
If this sounds like something you think you need or want, then book a free strategy phone call with me now. I will help you devise a plan to move forward to reach your goals. If I think I can help you I’ll tell you about that, and if not I’ll point you in the right direction.
Book a time slot in the calendar below. Speak to you soon.
To Your Success,