Overcoming stage fright and a mean girl critic (part 2)

Overcoming stage fright and a mean girl critic (part 2)

"You are not good enough, your voice sounds crap, you are going to choke ... ". How often have I heard those words? Way too many times – especially considering no one else has actually ever said them to me ...

For many of us our own inner-critic speaks to us in a way that we would never put up with if it were coming from anyone else.

And it is a voice that we can give way too much weight to.

I used to suffer from performance anxiety and stage fright – on stage that voice was my ruler.

In part one of this article I explored how the Gentle Breathe Meditation and an understanding of the true nature of confidence helped me to overcome stage fright and performance anxiety.

BUT I still had to let go of my inner-critic with her pervasive ideals about delivering the ‘perfect performance’.

This Mean Girl inner-critic would always try to advance the argument that technical perfection was a must. This would then be used as the reason to go into critiquing myself while performing ... which of course ruined my confidence: a vicious cycle would ensue.

The antidote to this was to be found in the body. In staying with my presence there was the possibility of my confidence staying put.

The confidence came from knowing the quality of the essence I bring without any trying.

I am now starting to understand that this quality, this inner-essence, is always there and therefore no ‘impressive performance’ is going to be needed – in fact, ‘performing’ gets in the way of the beingness that I can re-connect to.

What if the greatest gift we can give to another is to simply allow them to see who we actually are, with no polish, no scripted or manufactured performance, just the love that we are in all its tenderness and vulnerability?

Of course I still forget this sometimes.

A little while ago I sang a comedy song with my sister to a room of about 200 people.

We had a wardrobe malfunction ... we were supposed to remove an item of clothing as part of the song (an apron) and it turned out it was impossible to remove because our headset mics would have become entangled.

Suddenly, with an apron half over my head, the script went out the window. And there it was: my connection to myself didn’t leave me, my joy was right there, and I wasn’t afraid. The show went on, with a new laugh even though it wasn’t planned.

Had I been bent on perfection, as in times past, I would have seen this as a failure, but looking back at this on video this moment is golden – it is a moment of complete ease in imperfection.

When we allow each moment to unfold from our connection to ourselves we are free; when we go with expectation and pressure for things to be a certain way, invariably the self-critique comes in and we shrink on stage.

As we shrink we abandon ourselves, we lose our sense of fullness and joy, and this is why the audience recoils – not because of the mistake, because a ‘mistake’ can be owned and delivered with total acceptance and love for oneself. There is something so powerful about this as it shows the audience that it is OK to make mistakes ... and in a world where we live under a constant pressure to perform, this is a breath of fresh air – a moment of vulnerability that reminds others of their own.

When we stay with ourselves, the beauty of our presence naturally shines through in all that we say and do. Stage fright then holds no sway because we are no longer held hostage by ideals of perfection; ideals that pale in comparison to the power we bring when we simply express from the fullness of who we are.

Filed under

EssenceConfidencePerformance managementPresence

  • By Rebecca Asquith, BA

    Internet professional, media educator, writer, producer and presenter Rebecca has a keen interest in the intersection between media & communication and our health & wellbeing.

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.