Performance Anxiety: Understanding the Root of the Problem – Part Two | richard s. grossman

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for the past five months.  The main reason is because my wife and I were in the throes of assisting our fathers navigate the final chapters of their respective lives. I didn’t have the energy, focus or inclination to blog or do much of anything else, for that matter. But that’s a subject for future musings.

In my previous post, Performance Anxiety: Understanding the Root of the Problem – Part One, I shared my perspective on the root cause of the problem and introduced the concepts of the “Voice Inside Your Head” (VIYH) as the problem and becoming the dispassionate observer or witness as the solution (read Part One to get up to speed). In Part Two, I will share some specific things you can do, techniques, if you will, to help you achieve a quiet mind and overcome performance anxiety. Here we go…

Stream of Consciousness Journaling: This is the ultimate “to do” list. With pen and paper in hand, write down every thought (voice) in your head. Include everything you need to get done, everything that is bothering you, fears and worries, regrets, hopes and wishes—everything. Dump the entire contents of your head onto the paper. Keep journaling until you can’t think of anything else (now there’s a concept). This has the effect of clearing out your mental closet, allowing you to intuitively connect to your natural gifts and creativity.

Brain Gym Exercises: These exercises will help you get mentally “unstuck” and change the habitual patterns by which your brain tends to function. They are designed to assist the development of your whole brain.

  1. “Cross Crawl” Stand or sit in a comfortable position. Put the right hand across the body to the left knee as you raise it, and then do the same thing for the left hand on the right knee as if you were marching. Do this for at least 2 minutes at a time.
  2. “Hook Ups” Stand or sit. Cross the right leg over the left at the ankles. Take your right wrist and cross it over the left wrist and link up the fingers so that the right wrist is on top. Bend the elbows out and gently turn the fingers in towards the body until they rest on the sternum (breast bone) in the center of the chest. Stay in this position. Keep the ankles crossed and the wrists crossed and then breathe evenly in this position for a few minutes. You will be noticeably calmer after that time. This video may provide a visual aide.
  3. “Lazy 8’s” With a pen and paper, using first your dominant, then your non-dominant hand, draw the infinity sign (the number eight lying on its side) for 1-2 minutes daily.
  4. “Rhythmic Eights” An alternative to #3 that doesn’t require pen and paper is Rhythmic Eights. Also derived from kinesiology principles of rhythmic movement, Rhythmic Eights consists of clasping your hands together, fingers and thumbs interlaced, then “drawing” figures of eights in the air for up to a minute each day or whenever needed to quiet the mind.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): Utilizing the meridians on which Chinese Acupuncture is based (without the needles), EFT addresses issues such as performance anxiety at the emotional level by stimulating specific meridian points by tapping on them with our fingertips, often in conjunction with self-affirming proclamations. Check out this introductory video by the Tapping Solution:

I suggest you also check out this EFT technique for clearing the Chakras, a techique that can be especially effective when done prior to a performance or speaking engagement.

So now you have some specific techniques for eliminating your performance anxiety. I hope you will take the time to try them out to see which ones are the best fit for you in your daily practice. I also hope you will share your personal experiences, feedback and success stories with me via your comments to this post. Perhaps you have discovered some other techniques that have worked for you. Please share them here as well.

Until next time… Get it real and keep it real.