How To Overcome Stage Fright
If you really want to know how to overcome stage fright, there's a one word solution.
Ok, two words abbreviated if you want to be pedantic!
Anyway ... bear with me as I explain what I mean, and you may never be troubled by stage fright again.
We'll use the no fear public speaking formula:
In the spirit of Socrates' advice that the unexamined life is not worth living ... let's live a bit. Just look at how we describe this particular problem.
How to overcome stage fright. The word 'overcome' clearly means to go into battle against something and defeat it. We nomally overcome an enemy, or our body overcomes an illness. It implies going on the attack, to conquer, get rid of, curing, destroying or removing an opponent with violence or drugs for example. Fundamentally we do it by 'resisting'. I'm going to suggest that this is exactly the wrong approach and will never, ever work with stage fright.
You may have heard that what you resist will persist. You can use that wisdom and instead of resisting your stage fright, accept it. More on that below.
The second thing you need to understand about stage fright is that you can't 'overcome' it because it doesn't exist. Stage fright is not a 'thing', like an enemy soldier or a virus. You can't shoot it, burn it or dissolve it with drugs or radiation. Another way to look at this is to remember that 'there is no thing to be afraid of, but the fearful person is afraid of everything'. It's not the stage fright that needs to go. It's the fearful person that needs to go.
Let me ask you. Are you a fearful person? Are you a coward? Are you a mouse?
I didn't think so. Call youself by your real name, a perfectly fine human being, instead of 'coward' and you may just understand that 100% of the fearful feelings you experience are the result of the mind working against who you really are.
You don't need to know how to overcome stage fright ... you need to know how to love it.
This is the real key with stage fright. You have two choices when you feel its effects - resist it or accept it. Now let's be very clear about this. Accepting that you feel bad because of what you call stage fright, is not the same as resigning yourself to it. Instead, assuming you don't want to feel that way forever, what you're saying is "Ok. I'm feeling afraid because I have 'stage fright'. Now let's do something about it." But the first critical step is to accept it instead of denying it or resisting it which would sound more like "I wish I didn't feel so bad about giving this talk." or "Oh my god. Why does public speaking always make me feel so bad?"
Of course the ulimate in acceptance is to love it. A good first step is to accept what is (because it is). But it actually feels a lot better to love what is. In other words rather than just neutrally acknolwedging it, you can learn to welcome it.
In fact philosophers for millenia have been telling us this great truth. The key to life is to welcome all of it. Turn towards it. Look at it. Love it.
Is it possible to love stage fright? Of course it is. Just think of the benefits of stage fright for a moment:
- Like all suffering it deepens you as a human being.
- It gives you a great opportunity to realize who you are in truth - as opposed to the pygmy self you thought you were.
- It reminds you that you're still alive.
Could you love a person who did all that for you?
Armed with a whole new understanding and at least the beginnings of feelings of acceptance and love for stage fright, you're in a great position to show it in your actions.
Everytime you practice speaking you have an opportunity to prove to others and yourself that you feel differently about it. I promise that it'll come through in your voice and in your bearing. Pretty soon they'll be asking you how to overcome stage fright.
You'll smile quietly and realize that there never was any 'thing' to get over. You were fine all along. You just didn't quite understand it properly before. But now that you do, you are starting to love speaking, and you can't wait to practice again.
And then send them to this site of course :)
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