The pressure to perform, whether it is external or internal, is a very real adversity that affects all of us. Everyone battles with performance anxiety; from the most senior executive to the intern, from the Olympic gold medalist to the fitness enthusiast, or from the wise Harvard professor to the child starting kindergarten. No one is safe from anxiety, it cripples everyone at some point.
The fear of performance is difficult to get a grip around because it is a silent killer. It quietly exists inside of you, staying well hidden during the most comfortable of days. You forget about it. Then suddenly, in the moment where you must perform outside of your comfort zone, it arises. Whack! It attacks you from within! Like a boa constrictor, it then wraps itself around you with paralyzing force restraining you from action!
Have you been gripped from anxiety monster before? Yes, of course you have. What do you do!?!?! Did you find a way to break it’s hold of you? Well, if you didn’t, I am here to give you a three-step process that has proven to work for all abilities, ages, and situations. If you did find a process that works for you, please keep reading as I think you will find this method to be a new and effective weapon to add to your arsenal.
The place we will begin to rid this demon is actually in the very place you are right now. You are literally standing right here in this moment; it’s self awareness.
Step I: Self Awareness of Response
The first step is to acknowledge that your problem is that you are struggling with the symptoms from performance anxiety that is coming from a reactive response something you are associating with a performance. This sounds like an obvious step, but most people miss the opportunity to resolve the anxiety problem because they handle it incorrectly from the beginning. They are led off track by their own bodies, mistaking the symptoms as the problem. This leads them to focus on the symptoms as the reason they are falling short. Yes the symptoms are debilitating, but the treatment for the symptoms does not fix the true problem.
To avoid this wrong turn so many take, become self aware that your reaction to something is causing you anxiety is what is holding you back, not the symptoms.
Now, what you do with next this self awareness is very important, please listen up. You must now take ownership that this anxiety response is coming from YOUR chain of thoughts that YOU are creating.
Why take the step further like this and take ownership in your reaction? Because it transforms you in an instant from the victim to the boss. As the victim, you are helpless and because of that you just waiting to be attacked by the anxiety. As the boss, it is now your responsibility to manage this problem in your “company.”
Now as the owner, fire it. Fire this response.
You are probably concerned and asking yourself, “how can I just fire this reactive performance anxiety response as I have had it in my life, in my company for days, months, even years!?” You are right to be concerned! There is now a massive space to be filled! The way you are going to do it is through proactive thinking. Proactive thinking is when you PLAN to run key thoughts through your mind with achieving a specific outcome in the focus.
The best way to effectively use proactive thinking is to plan to is lead with a simple, easy-to-proactive phrase BEFORE and DURING the pre-existing times you struggled with performance anxiety.
The proactive phrase that I train the people I coach with is "I am here to give, not to take."
This phase is so effective because it frees you immediately from all expectations or measurements that most likely are triggering your reactive performance anxiety response.
Shift your focus to 100 percent of your effort and attention to what you can give. Align all of you ability, all of your skills, and aim them into the direction of giving everything you have to the moment.
At the same time, kill all expectations of want you want or plan on taking. So no more expectations of what numbers you could hit, or riders you should beat, or even what place you should finish.
So now you have it, three simple and effective ways to end your battle with performance anxiety. The game now has changed now. All you have to do is pour everything you have into your performance. It’s now a one way street, you just have to go in one direction!!
Now go and practice giving your best performances with no need to take any reward or confirmation from it. Now the pressure and anxiety is gone.