Overcoming Performance Anxiety

We all suffer from anxiety at some point or another. Anxiety is just a normal part of everyday life.

It can actually be a useful emotion in helping us to cope with stressful situations. There will always be reasons to feel anxious. All ages experience anxiety. Children feel it in school before a test; even young babies feel it when separated from their mothers. Adults have plenty of opportunities to feel anxious whether it is from a job, finances, romance, or due to being self-conscious.

I find that often the women I coach have anxiety because they have to do something they fear doing, like talking about their accomplishments in a job interview or to colleagues to express interest in a promotion. 

Do you have this fear, too? If so, you could be suffering from a type of performance anxiety.  Do any of the following apply to you? If so, you may have performance anxiety.

  • Worry about looking foolish in front of other people and being laughed at
  • Worry that people can see how nervous you are?
  • Experience anxiety in advance of the event simply from anticipating your fears.
  • Feel immediate and intense fear upon learning you need to speak in public.
  • Attempt to get out of public speaking or not show up if you can’t get out of it.
  • Missed out on opportunities because of your fear of being in the public spotlight.

You might find it interesting that performance anxiety is actually all in the mind of the sufferer. The fear comes from imagined dangers such as feeling like you are not smart enough or good enough to avoid ridicule. The way to overcome your performance anxiety is to change your way of thinking.

There are four steps involved in overcoming performance anxiety. Let’s take a look at them below.

Step one: Self Assessment

Get to know yourself, both as a person and as someone who talks about her accomplishments. Identify the problem thoughts that are holding you back and creating anxiety.

Step two: Exposure and Preparation

Find opportunities for sharing your accomplishments with a trusted friend, but not to the point your anxiety kicks in. Recite your successes. Tape yourself and watch yourself. Practice until you have it down pat. Always be totally prepared so you feel confident. Learn relaxation techniques and practice them right before you interview.

Step three: The Interview

Visualize the hiring panel as friends and family that wish you well. Don’t think of yourself. Think of the audience. Stay calm and enjoy yourself.

Step four: After the Interview

Don’t criticize yourself no matter what happens. Create a mantra, like “I did the best I could” to keep the negative thoughts at bay. Congratulate yourself for doing your best. Reward yourself for making progress.

Train yourself to change your thoughts and instead of worrying about what people will think, just go ahead and imagine they are thinking good things about you. Imagine yourself as self-confident and thoroughly capable of completing the task. As you change your thinking, you will see your performance anxiety start to slip away.

Work with me

I work with a lot of women who have spent time in their coaching sessions to overcome their performance anxiety around a number of speaking opportunities, including interviews.  If you’re ready to work on overcoming your own performance anxiety, click here to schedule a time to talk.

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