Hypnotherapy for Stage Fright
By Angela Elliot D.Hyp, PDC Hyp, MBSCH
You're a performer. You stand up in front of people to entertain them. You love singing, acting, presenting, dancing – whatever your particular ‘performance' is – but the very thing you love doing has you in a spin when it comes to actually getting up there and doing it in front of an audience. And whether that audience is one person or one thousand makes very little difference - the fear is just the same. Loss of confidence, shakes, sweating, dizziness, nausea, loss of voice, and fainting are just some of the things you may experience.
Let me tell you about my stage fright, because yes, I occasionally make a fool of myself in front of an audience. I like to sing jazz. I'm not that good and I try not to terrify too many audiences with my warbling, but I do it all the same. My stage fright used to make me shake. I'd tell myself I had to stop, or the audience would notice, but that just made things worse - I'd shake more. It only stopped when I came off stage. Then I'd be fired up to go out there and do what I'd just done, only by then the opportunity had passed. I mean standing up in front of an audience and asking them to close their eyes, in preparation to be hypnotised is a whole different ball game to singing. As a hypnotherapist I sometimes give talks and sometimes ask the audience to close their eyes and listen to the sound of my voice helping them to relax. I never feel nerves when I do this. So why should I feel nerves when I sing instead? I mean both involve using the voice to 'hypnotise' the audience don't they? I needed to look deeper to find an explanation.
What I found out was that for me getting up to sing means I'm putting myself up for ridicule. I may be laughed at, and as I'm not a comedienne that's not a response I want from my audience. It all comes down to confidence. As a hypnotherapist I have boundless confidence, but when I'm singing, not only do the audience keep their eyes open, I'm not confident that I have the musical ability to entice the them into the trance-like state they need to enter to enjoy the experience.
So what did I do to overcome my performance nerves? Well first of all I had to realise that the thoughts I had about performing like this weren't necessarily mine. They were handed me by my mother. In her eyes the worst thing anyone could do was put themselves up for ridicule. Standing up there played right into her fears. Once I realised I didn't need to feel her fears anymore I could dump them and find a better way forward that worked just for me. I hypnotised myself to feel strong and confident no matter what performance I gave - and I anchored these feelings of confidence on my fingertips so that each time I squeezed my thumb and finger together a flood of confidence filled my mind and body. Then I anchored an empty rehearsal room so that when I asked for an 'empty room' I had one. My audience never knew that I was playing the game I used to play when I was little - singing in an empty living room to an imaginary audience - and boy are imaginary audiences easier to handle than real ones! I anchored feelings of confidence into the microphone too, and I put a protective bubble around myself so that nothing the audience projected could harm me in any way.
This was what worked for me, but each person's stage fright is different - and because of this the resolution is different too. For Jazz singer Anita Wardell, the fear of the audience still sent her into a tizzy, despite the fact that she is was there with the very best. She had the ability, she had the knowledge, all she needed was the confidence to overcome that irrational fear of the audience. When after one session she said, ‘this is amazing, I can send so many people to you', I knew that this was the area I wanted to specialise in. Performers are great!
Angela Elliott has a practice in North London, based in both Crouch End and Hampstead.
www.angelaelliott.com firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0781 123 6841