Conquering Performance Anxiety with Allison Anderson
Today, we're talking about Performance Anxiety or commonly known as Stage Fright. I've had a lot of people wanting me to discuss this particular topic. Although I've had some bad experiences onstage, I've never had stage fright from the beginning. I know there are a lot of you out there who have a lot of talents to share and a lot of things to say but are afraid to get out there. So I have invited Academy member Allison Anderson to talk about this with us today.
Allison is a musician and licensed therapist from Alberta, Canada. She started playing the piano at 6 years old and singing at 7. After she did music school, she suffered performance anxiety and it lasted for three decades.
During a certain performance around seven years ago, she was off-key and everything was going wrong, then she found herself laughing it off during the performance and letting it go. That was when she heard the most beautiful tone come out of her. She eventually learned that her stage fright came from bad experiences in music school that were enough to shake her confidence.
Performance anxiety is classified as a social phobia. It can be caused by different origins of thoughts such as a previous bad performance, trauma in childhood, learned behavior patterns, some strong personality traits or anything else that could have caused that impact in a person's deep self-esteem. A person may have tendencies but it could be developed by biological or environmental causes. Whatever the origin is, the result is the same onstage, which is stage fright or performance anxiety. No matter what the cause is, this is more about how you respond to a situation.
To prevent having stage fright, you can do practices outside of the time so you can apply it when you're onstage onstage such as mindfulness, breathing, or being in the moment. Mindfulness is a practice about being in the moment using your five senses. We have to be in our bodies to get grounded in the moment and not live in our heads. When we have stage fright, we're activating our fight or flight response and we need to be aware of the present reality so we can allow our body to be mindful of the true situation and not of our fears or thoughts.
As human beings, we always have the right to create. Nurturing your muse is giving yourself the freedom and fertile ground for creativity. It helps if you allow yourself to respond in the moment as an improvisation. The skill of mindfulness is being able to return to the moment. You also have to let yourself go and accept that your creativity is limited if you keep on thinking of being perfect. Developing this skill allows you to deal with Performance Anxiety and control your body's reactions.
If there is one step you can take to move out of your stage fright, Allison advises it is allowing yourself to be horrible or to be the weirdest in your own space. Letting go and being free allows you to get rid of stage fright and discovering your best voice.
You can find more about Allison at andersonarts.ca.