When you love to perform, “stage fright,” is more than frightening. It feels like a danger to your livelihood and a hindrance to the creativity that makes you feel strong, alive, and purposeful.
Yet, like most forms of anxiety, fighting it, burying it, or letting it take over it is not the answer. The more you avoid facing it, the more you get trapped in it and the more it interferes with your life and your career.
At the heart of it, performance anxiety strikes where you are most vulnerable and insecure about your gifts and contributions. It can prey on your self-esteem and self-confidence. Fortunately, EMDR can help you heal and inspire you to fearlessly do what you love.
Is performance anxiety “serious enough” for EMDR?
Definitely. If your career and life is controlled by your “stage fright,” yes. If your anxiety doesn’t allow you to show your real talents and skills, keeping you small as an artist, yes. If you’re amazingly good when you perform in your comfort zone, but not on stage, yes. If you avoid performing no matter how much you love it, yes anxiety is impacting you enough to consider EMDR.
You don’t have to suffer great trauma or injury to find yourself stuck in an unproductive mindset that you can’t shake on your own.
Essentially, EMDR therapy helps facilitate mental and emotional release. You may need to simply reprocess unhelpful emotions, beliefs, and bodily sensations. Or, it may be that you are unaware that your performances have become linked to an unfavorable review, past event, or past performance somehow.
With the guidance of a trained therapist, you can look forward to performing and to connecting to your audiences again. For many, EMDR therapy leads to significant gains in internal comfort and ease on stage or in front of others.
It helps you perform from a place of connection to your talents, skills, and the passion for your craft.
How EMDR Heals by Removing Mental Obstacles and Restoring Confidence
EMDR therapy can help you reprocessing unhealthy believes, feelings, or memories
If a trauma or a particularly upsetting past performance holds you back or it triggers your anxiety, an EMDR therapist can help you reprocess those memories.
In particular an EMDR therapist specialized in working with creatives and performers can understand the different layers of your performance anxieties and support your shift to performing with more emotional freedom.
Perhaps memories of pressure to perform as a child are triggered when you’re just about to perform. Or, a feeling of “you’re not talented enough,” or a belief of “who are you to be on the stage” may keep you stuck in anxiety. Maybe, there were times you felt ashamed when you performed…
EMDR creates a safe environment for healing old painful memories, so you can reconnect to your authentic performing core.
Peeling layers and layers of fears and insecurities through EMDR, eventually, performance anxiety recedes and your drive to create and perform becomes your leading internal drive and force.
What happened to you is not holding you back anymore. You can perform connected to your passion, talents, and skills – all becoming one flow of creative expression. Those moments when everything stops, it’s just you and your performance merging into telling a meaningful and touching story.
As a result, EMDR is a powerful tool for healing and transforming such anxiety into an ability to perform with more confidence and presence.
How does EMDR work to heal “stage fright” or performance anxiety?
EMDR will help you let go of traumatic memories (charged with unhealthy beliefs and emotions) that are trapped in your mind/body. Thus, these memories lose their hold on you and you break free from performing inhibitions – toward a more embodied connection to your body – the hub of your most genuine artistic expression.
As you let go of fears and insecurities trapped in your body, you’ll also take in a sense of trust and grounded confidence in your talent and skills.
EMDR leaves you with a feeling of wholeness and connection to all that you are as a performer: your passion, your talents, and your skills all coming together in your unique way of telling a story through a performance.
It’s through an intimate connection to your body that you can perform with authenticity and impact others. EMDR can help you reconnect with your authentic performing self and step out of your comfort zone into the the world.
The right hemisphere of your brain tends to be the more primitive, reactive, and protective, driving your anxious responses. At the same time, the right hemisphere is more creative but also where traumatic memories get stuck. Unfortunately, when flooded by fears and insecurities it can lead to opening old traumatic experiences and an inability to access its creative power.
The idea is to harmonize and connect both hemispheres of your brain, to work together as you perform – creating wholeness in your mind/body connection. EMDR supports your ability to tap into such wholeness of expression.
EMDR promotes exploration of the feelings, and sensations you associate with performing.
You’ll notice sensations, emotions, or mental images linked to your performance habits and experiences during EMDR sessions. Healing happens as you consistently and repetitiously clear away unproductive tension and emotional stress associated with fears and doubts. As you begin reprocessing your emotions and sensations, more positive information and ideas can be linked to them.
With regular sessions, helpful, healthier thought patterns develop. Goals for your performances start to emerge. Reactivity gives way to thoughtful responses. Substantially improved impulse-control and forward-thinking becomes routine again.
What was once apprehension can be transformed into excitement and anticipation. You’ll likely feel more aware, calm, and in control of yourself in front of your fans as well.
Seeking Help from an EMDR Therapist
The aim of EMDR therapy is to heal unhealthy beliefs and self-perception that doesn’t support your performing endeavors. Through such healing and transformation, you can enjoy your performing life to the fullest. Fears and insecurities can be faced and transformed in passion and inspiration for performing.
Performance anxiety is not insurmountable. Recognizing mental blocks and shifting the way your brain responds is entirely possible. EMDR therapy might just help boost your confidence and get you on stage in a more powerful and authentic connection to your talents and skills.
Please read more about EMDR treatment on my EMDR page and contact me for your 15-20 min free conversation if you’d like to know more about it.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with their life struggles, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creativity, relationships and love, PTSD, and addictions – to become their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers.