How to Overcome Stage Fright
5 Unconventional Methods
“Hey, you are on in 5 minutes,” echo’s your friends voice through the long backstage corridor. You nod reservedly but these few words stoke up your unbearable stage fright yet again. Your thoughts are racing, your palms are sweating and adrenaline rushes through your body. “I just imagine they are all naked,” you think, desperately trying to come up with ways to overcome your stage fright. It hardly helps. The two beers you had early slowly start to kick in but drugging yourself at the cost of clarity and focus can’t be the long-term solution…
You probably experienced a similar situation in your music, DJing or speaking career. I have many, many times and I tried out every conventional method of how to overcome stage fright that my benevolent relatives know about. These methods often simply don’t help or even make matters worse. When I try to think away the clothes of my audience I am distracted and miss the next chord. Three beers and my pronunciation start to go down the drain. You get the idea.
When I think about how I feel spending the last hours and minutes before a concert nowadays, it is a totally different picture. I am in a calm but positively alert state, focused and internally preparing on what lies ahead. I even look forward to the tingles I get from the challenge of putting myself out there.
The way in which I overcame stage fright was a byproduct of the countless self-help books I read and experiments I ran on myself that were often unrelated to being on stage. Yet they helped, profoundly and here they are; 5 unconventional ways of how to overcome stage fright:
1. Shower Cold
Challenge yourself to shower ice-cold (yes turn the knob all the way) for 30 days in a row. You can start warm and end cold or go cold turkey from the get go. Besides many health benefits you will experience along the way, this challenge also teaches you to do something even though it is uncomfortable. I can tell you, you will hate it in the beginning but it trains you mentally to overcome your fear of being cold and the good thin is, you can practice daily at home. You simply become better at doing things while feeling discomfort and the next time you get on stage you will be much more confident about it. One last thing, practice to breathe slowly and deeply while showering cold. Give it a try.
2. Learn to Let Go
You will never be absolutely fearless but what you can control is how you treat the emotion “fear”. You can either freak out about it or you can learn how to let it go. Many people don’t know, or better said forgot, that emotions are, for the greater part, a choice. As a child you probably often cried in the one moment and laughed again in the blink of an eye. As a grown up you much rather numb emotions and feelings with alcohol, television, sex and other distractions. I did and still do sometimes but I also relearned how I can let go of my emotions by choice and it makes my live easier on so many levels.
The next time you have an unpleasant feeling, I want you to stop what you are doing and focus on it inside. Accept that the feeling is there and don’t try to fight it. Now ask yourself, “can I let go of this feeling?” and answer it while at the same time breathing out and relaxing your body. Do it a several times and see what happens. Once you practiced this skill you can apply it before getting on stage and thereby become more capable of overcoming stage fright. If you want to read more about this topic check out the book The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin which had a profound impact on my day-to-day life.
3. Be in the Now
You are on stage and everything is going great. You notice and think to yourself, “wow, I am really rocking it!” The moment this thought pops into your mind, you loose your focus and play the wrong chord or forget the lyrics. Sounds familiar? It happened to my many times and I hated it. The way I minimized these incidents was to practice being in the now through meditation or in every other situation. When you are present you allow your body to realize it’s full potential. Your hands are playing the chords and your mouth and every muscle involved is forming the words. You don’t need to think about it because you thought about it while practicing a million times already. Your thoughts are simply a roadblock to perfection.
The way you practice being in the now is through meditation or through focusing your attention on your body and sense perceptions. At the same time, stop your inner dialog which is much harder than you think. Once you learned being in the now a little better you will become more confident about not screwing up while on stage. Consequently, that also calms your stage fright. If you want to learn more about being in the now, read , which is another profound book I stumbled upon years ago.
4. Don’t Give a Fuck
Yes, you read right. Sometimes it is best to just don’t give a fuck. This “skill” is what helps me fall asleep every evening within minutes. Even when I have concerts or important presentations the next day. Don’t give a fuck about what people think about you, don’t give a fuck about the outcome and even don’t give a fuck about whether you fuck up or not. Mark Manson wrote a brilliant article about this topic which I can recommend for everyone who want to learn about not giving a fuck.
4. Don’t Overcome Stage Fright – Embrace it
If all that doesn’t work you still have the option to just roll with your stage fright. Don’t try to overcome it. Instead change how you think about it. Stage fright lets the adrenaline rush through your veins and you love that feeling. You become more alert and focused. All other problems in live suddenly seem irrelevant and you really enjoy how it drags your attention to the very moment you are in now. I don’t even know why I wrote this article anymore. Stage fright is freaking awesome. Everyone should experience it!
That’s all for today but please share in the comments how you overcame stage fright? What has worked for you and what didn’t. I am more than interested to hear from you.
Books and articles that were recommended in this post: