If you have experienced a parched throat, clammy hands, and the heat of your mind going blank in the middle of a critical presentation for which you prepared ceaselessly; or if you have dreaded getting on stage at the karaoke work party; or if, after a perfectly planned and artfully executed date you cannot get or keep an erection, you have struggled with performance anxiety. It’s the worst, and most of us have experienced it at some point in some aspect of our lives. In sports, performance anxiety can make a talented athlete “choke” in spite of countless hours of practice. How many people out there perform with consistent excellence when they train only to give a poor performance in a competitive setting: how enraging and unfair! How many musicians do you know who work so hard at their craft to achieve perfection, then freeze up on stage, feeling self-conscious and unnatural, unable to share their gift and connect deeply with the audience.
In those circumstances, we freeze up not because we do not know the material. Our nervousness—the tense sensations inside of us— is overwhelming us, not allowing us to be present to the situation, taking away our control of our thoughts and our body. Managing our fear takes so much of our energy that we have very little left to accomplish anything else.
The problem is that one experience with performance anxiety can give rise to a long-term pattern. If we live though a very difficult or embarrassing experience, chances are that next time we are in a similar situation we are going to dread it, before and often during.
Can you guess what I am about to tell you? Yes, of course performance anxiety can and should be resolved! You can be in control of your body and your mind as you move through all aspects of life—it’s much more enjoyable this way. Being anxious as we are about to present an important project over which we have toiled or—worse—when we are about to make love is completely unfair and illogical. Remember—every regulation makes us more free and complete, so please do not hesitate.
Take care of yourself, be well, be fearless, be your best you!