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Believing in Yourself

How much do you believe in yourself?

Better yet, what would it be like to believe in yourself whole-heartedly?

When I was in college, studying music performance, it never ceased to amaze me how wildly different each performance could feel.

Sometimes my body would respond so strongly to the nervousness that my lips felt like they were being remotely controlled- the harder I tried to gain control, the more it felt like a tug-of-war.

Other times, performing felt effortless and magical. I was like a bird, wings unfolded, coasting on air.

Given these two extremes, I could completely understand why big-time performers like Barbra Streisand or Glenn Gould would limit their public performances, preferring to record privately instead.

Performing is unpredictable. As unpredictable as…daily moods!

There must be a formula to ensuring great performances, I surmised. How could I increase my chances of overcoming performance nerves and having effortless performances all the time?

This question led me to researching music performance anxiety, sports performance anxiety, and the complex undertaking of studying myself in various performance scenarios. I learned a lot. And I took hold of the opportunity to really get to know myself on a deeper level. My biggest hope was that helping myself would mean I could help others!

As for that formula for ensuring great performances, what I discovered is that there is no easy formula. Unless you consider “getting to know yourself” an easy endeavor. Do I now have the secret to overcoming performance anxiety? Maybe not for everyone. Every solution is as unique as individuals are. However, I do have a sense of when my own performances are going to be home runs vs. good enough.

The biggest and most important realization I made in studying music performance anxiety through the lens of my own experience was that the best performances I ever had were the result of believing in myself while detaching from expectations. Put another way, the more I believe in myself and the fewer expectations I have, the better my public performances are.

Think about the last time you truly believed in yourself. You knew without a doubt that you could perform a task, any task. Perhaps start simple, like brushing your teeth. You’ve done it every day (I HOPE) for years. You don’t add any additional expectations on yourself other than to clean your teeth.

It would be ridiculous to tell yourself, “When I brush my teeth, everyone will love me.” That’s an unrealistic expectation. But that’s what a lot of musicians do when they perform! Or perhaps you do that to yourself in other situations that don’t involve music performance?!

This episode of Growing in Uncertainty is about developing a belief in yourself. I share what I’ve learned about believing in myself and how you can start a practice that will increase your ability to believe in yourself. And I talk about the importance of detaching from expectation to complete the equation.

Whether you’re a musician or not, I hope you can apply what I’ve learned to any area of your life that might need a boost.

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