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Four Footsteps to Fearless–Step Four: Choosing Your Response

emotion regulation four footsteps to fearless learnlovewellletgo performance anxiety

Today is a GREAT day!

Ok... maybe today Jeff's printer needed some extra coercion... 😡

And, this wonderful man went to open a door for Katy, but it wasn't super clear whether he was opening it for himself or her and... oops!! 😂

...but, words are powerful. They are often the difference between whether you've made a robot-helper or new friend or whether your next step is fixing a cracked window or ego.

As we've been discussing over the past month, your choices WILL play out onstage. When they do, your response–your next word(s) to yourself–can lead you toward either fearless sharing or fearful sharing.

Welcome to the final step of Four Footsteps to Fearless: Choosing Your Response. Yayyy!

Learn

We've discussed the choices you have when...
...entering a performance situation.
...focusing on an aspect in your situation
...assessing what you've focused on.

Once you've chosen your way through these first three steps, according to Dr. James Gross's model of emotional regulation, you'll experience an emotional reaction.

Today, we're learning about some choices you have when choosing a response to your emotional reaction.

Imagine you're in the middle of a piece and a tricky passage is coming up.

Some constructive choices you might have made would be to:

  1. Modify your situation by marking a cue word clearly in your part with big, red (erasable!) ink.
  2. Focus on the word you wrote.
  3. Assess that word to mean that you have prepared yourself well, and you know exactly what thoughts and actions are necessary to execute this passage.

In reaction to your choices (...and more! How wonderful it is our minds are not this simple), you're feeling ready, eager, and confident.

Alternatively, some destructive choices you might have made would be to:

  1. Spend time on another aspect of your performance instead of taking the time to mark this moment in your part.
  2. Focus on the upcoming measures.
  3. Assess those measures to be challenging.

In reaction to your choices, you're feeling tentative, doubtful, and tense.

Good news! Regardless of how you've chosen, it's not the end of the road, yet! You get to choose how you respond to your emotional reaction. We'll be transparent. At first? It can take some time after your performance to work through those choices! Or perhaps, you'll experience a performance situation in your day with a similar emotion, and you'll have more time to work it out than you would on stage. We assure you that emotional responses can be trained, and you can learn to respond optimally nearly as instantaneously as you react.

Love Well

A loving reminder that we share this information based on our observations, experience, and not from clinical psychology training. However, we do hope you find it useful to experiment with loving your emotions well in performance by doing these three things:

Accept your emotional reaction. Everything is good; everything is fine, even if it doesn't FEEL good or fine. We have extraordinary minds that compile an incredible amount of information gathered from our senses. Your emotional reaction means you are simply reacting to the information as you are designed!!

Allow your emotions. We often want to skip ahead to more desirable feelings. We want to feel confident, we want to feel capable, so we can make the mistake of trying to force these desirable emotions into being while suppressing our actual emotions.

Instead, allow your emotion to be whatever it wants to be. It's so tempting to want to move on from a place we've deemed more advantageous.

We can only ever move from where we are.

At this point, we've already made our choices, and we cannot change where we are. We CAN change where we are going, and that will be our choice, but right now, we are here. The absolute best thing is to allow yourself to see where you are, so you know where to go. If you already start to rush ahead, you don't know where you are, and therefore, you won't know how to take yourself anywhere else.

Activate your emotions as a tool to help your performance. Ok, now we can go somewhere else with our emotion :)

All emotions have some aspects of them that are advantageous. Here are some examples of emotions with which we commonly see people struggle:

Fear can give you an awesome energy boost and the ability to dial in your focus on one thing. Use this emotion as a source to draw excitement and focus into your performance.

Overwhelm in performance can be a signal that you are taking in more much information than your mind can handle. Use this emotion as a cue to breathe, empty your mind, then turn your attention singularly to the story you want to share through your music.

Once you've accepted, allowed, and activated your emotion's power, you can choose an appropriate response. Breathing, story, grounding, self-coaching, emptying... all these things and more are available to you!

Get in the habit of noticing what emotions you commonly experience in performance, then list out everything you can possibly think of about that emotion that can contribute to giving your best performance. This way, when you experience the emotion in performance, you'll know what to do with it!

Let Go

Many emotions have physiological implications as well. Train yourself to see these physical symptoms as loud cues to respond by letting go of your awareness of the symptom and focus on your message.

Shaky bow? That tells you to lean into a high-energy focus on your process. Dry Mouth? High-energy focus on your process. Pounding Heart? High-energy focus :) Make the music louder than your fears. Lean into what TO do, rather than what not to do.

Get Started

Often, our self-talk gives us clues about how we are responding emotionally in performance. After your next performance, list out all of your self-talk that you can remember. Some of your self-talk will reflect beliefs you can change. Accept, allow, then activate the emotion behind each belief. Replace it with self-talk that gets you feeling good!

Other thoughts will be physical observations you make repeatedly across performances that you can turn into cues to direct yourself back to your process. An example list might look like this:

What are they thinking about me?
What do I think about this music?

I want to prove myself
I am excited to share what I've been working on.

My lips feel AWFUL
Dial in on process!

* * *

CONGRATULATIONS!
Wow, it sure took several weeks to walk but four steps, but we made it!! We hope you found it useful to do this super deep dive into the psychology that powers the Magic Line Performance Method.

Seeya next week with something short and sweet!

 Jeff Nelsen
Founder

Dr. Katy Webb
Creative & Managing Director

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