You live your life dreaming to be a performer. Your eyes sparkle at the thought of performing, because that is the essence of who you are. You dream of those moments when you become one with your performance, flowing smoothly and connecting with your audience. That’s what performers do… And, you know you are a performer! Nevertheless, the performer that you are, gets lost in those moments you have an opportunity to show who you are. An audition lost, a show lost… another opportunity lost. With each missed opportunity, feeling confused about who you are.
You are now wondering: “Am I really a performer?” Can I do this? Self-doubt is creeping in your mind. A part of you knows you are a performer. A part of you doubts who you are. And, in a challenging world of so many talented performers you are now afraid if you will be able to survive.
This is the story of many talented performers. Deep in their soul knowing how talented they are, but somehow something is not working. Because, in critical moments of having to show up, performance anxiety suddenly kicks in. Performers describe this feeling in different ways, each having their own words to capture their internal experience: “I just couldn’t be myself anymore,” “All the sudden, I lost my touch,” “It’s like I switched to the other side of me, where I can’t perform,” “I froze!”… Just, to name a few.
Now, how do you face this challenge? Many times this type of sudden anxiety is rooted in our childhood experiences. It can be so embedded in who we are that we are not even aware of. We became aware of only when it takes us by surprise. This is not the panic attack or the anxiety attack that many people are familiar with. This is a different anxiety. Suddenly, it feels like you are not connected with yourself anymore, the person who is able to perform from a knowing place is gone. It’s a feeling of losing touch with a part of you. This anxiety is rooted in feelings of not being good enough to show up in the world. An old, unconscious and unprocessed shame.
How do you know your anxiety is rooted in old unconscious shame? If you tried everything and nothing is helping, may be a sign. If your tried couching, relaxation, mindfulness, self-help books and nothing seems to work… Then it’s probably an anxiety that is covering old shame. So old that you have no conscious awareness of. So old that it feels like you cannot escape it or that something is inherently wrong with you. None of this is true, it’s just an old emotional feeling that spills into the present. Since you had not had the chance to heal from, it shows up in surprising ways…
This shame requires healing, you cannot just put band-aid on. If you tried everything and nothing works, I highly recommend a psychotherapist that knows how to get at the core of this old conflict, so you can be the performer that you are.
Contact me to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see if psychotherapy can help you further your career and your personal life.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creative blocks / creative issues, relationships, and addictions – to be and live their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers here.