Many great performers of the theater and music have discussed being been plagued by stage fright -- also known as performance anxiety. Sir Laurence Olivier was so terrified of going on stage that he would hide under a table in the wings.
Performers aren’t the only people who experience the symptoms that include sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, butterflies in the stomach, shaky hands and legs and dry mouth. Some people grow paralyzed by fear when having to take a test …or when they must speak before colleagues at a business meeting. The symptoms derive from the fight or flight response to fear – adrenaline overload. Fear overload.
A physician might prescribe a beta blocker (heart medicine) which, like all drugs, may help one symptom while it causes another. And drugs can be so sedating that they dull thinking and impede a good performance. Dry mouth and throat are damaging for a vocal performer.
Perhaps you’ve run into classic advice like, “imagine that your audience is naked.” I guess that is supposed to alter the look of terror on your face and make you relax. I’ve never known it to work. Something that does work – against you – is the fearful self-talk that accompanies all anxiety. Here, as I often do in my writing, I invoke a universal law: like attracts like.
The more you allow fearful thoughts, the more you fear. One fearful thought begets another, e.g., what if I forget what to say; what if people don’t find me credible; what if they don’t like me, etc. will reinforce the thought and accompanying bad feeling. Only you can control your thoughts, and control your thoughts you must.
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Public speaking organizations like Toastmasters clubs give members experience in public speaking -- and there’s nothing like experience for growing a person’s confidence. However, in our culture where everyone is in a hurry and instant gratification the goal, HYPNOSIS is the way to go!
I speak from more than 25 years as a clinical hypnotist. Hypnotherapy is one part art – one part science. It offers something drugs and Toastmasters does not, and that is discovery of the source of the fright, and that insight becomes the healing force.
Every problem has a source. And as Albert Einstein said, you can’t heal the problem at the same level at which it was created. Once the problem is experienced at the conscious level, our normal state of mind, the feelings are “recorded” in the deeper part of the mind -- the unconscious, sometimes referred to as the subconscious mind. The experiences we have are the basis of beliefs we form. And our beliefs determine our reaction and response to everything.
Via hypnosis, one can enter the subconscious storehouse of fears and traumatic events and find the source of the first time feeling fear, humiliation, and other negative responses. Frequently, such feelings are found to originate in childhood. Once examined from an adult perspective and reframed in hypnotherapy, the fear disappears, and the change that takes place in the subconscious can be reinforced with post-hypnotic positive suggestions for permanency.
Hypnosis is a common, natural state that you and I experience many times in a day, when our conscious thoughts wander off what’s in front of us, and at that point, our body and mind are relaxed and the subconscious mind becomes present. It happens when you’re driving…and discover you’ve missed your exit…(you were in temporary hypnosis induced by the boredom of driving). Also within two or three minutes of watching a TV show that captures your attention, your brainwaves change and you are in an “altered state of consciousness” – hypnosis, a highly suggestible state. And that is when the carefully timed commercials appear to convince us to buy stuff!
Hypnosis can be used clandestinely in business…and more ethically, by a hypnotherapist whose goal is to help someone heal of a physical, emotional or spiritual problem. A Google search will reveal hundreds of problems hypnosis can treat.
Enjoy a calming three minutes I’ve recorded for you.