Being in Control When You Perform

The aim of so many people when they come to work with me is to feel more in control when they perform. They just want to feel safer and less vulnerable. I get it, that’s how I used to be. I felt that if I could be in control I would do a good enough job, or even a great one, and would feel confident when I put myself out there.

The trouble is THIS IS NOT THE WAY IT WORKS. Let me tell you the reason, and a better way to improve your performing that not only works, it helps you feel so much more confident too.

The Search for Control

What is the reason you seek to be in control when performing? Mostly it’s because you feel out of control and vulnerable, and think that being in control will give you safety. It makes sense on the surface, the idea that being in control feels safe.

The difficulty is you can never really be in control, for example I’m sitting here with laryngitis and although there might have been ways for me to avoid it, and there will be ways for me to help my body sort itself back to health, right now my speaking is not great!

Even if you could be, being in control actually reduces your responsiveness, creativity and flexibility because you are putting energy into everything being ‘right’. Plus being in control can, bizarrely, actually promote anxiety. You are constantly trying not to lose control and looking out for threats to your control.

A much better solution is to be in a place where you recognise and can make use of choice. To work out what is within your scope of choice and what isn’t.

Let me explain.

Being in Control

Putting yourself in front of an audience can feel like stepping into a lion’s den. You don’t know how things will go, you don’t know how they will react or what they will think or what mistakes you may or may not make. It can feel really out of control.

But the thing is, control is not binary. Not being in control doesn’t mean being out of control. There are many situations where we are not in control…..but not actually out of control. For example when we get on a train. We are not out of control, but we are not controlling where the train is going, how fast or, frustratingly, whether it stops in the middle of nowhere! But you aren’t out of control either. You know where you are going and have a reasonable idea of when you will get there (mostly). You have made the choice to ride this train at this time.

The other analogy I like to use is that of the surfer, the surfer doesn’t control the waves, the currents, the wind, or even the board. But they do have choices, and they can influence. The can choose whether or not to go in the sea, they can choose which waves to attempt and which not, they can choose when to get out, and the can influence the movement of the board by using different pressures and body movements.

The moment they try to control, the chances of them falling in, or wiping out, increase dramatically. The power lies in their ability to respond not control.

More than that, they can train themselves to respond more effectively and learn make better and better choices. They can build their muscles and flexibility, they can work on their reflexes. They can practise and learn from their experiences.

It’s About Choice

In the same way, great performing is not about control, it’s about choice. There are aspects you can directly choose things about, whether you go out there, what you choose to perform (although it might not feel like that sometimes!), and how you choose to perform it. There are other parts you can influence, like the audience. You can choose how they react, but you can influence it. And there are things about which you have no choice at all. For some that might be the time and place of the performance, for others it might be the temperature of the venue, or other things like that.

You can also choose how you prepare, how you train your body and mind to build responsiveness and flexibility. How much time you invest in training and preparation.

If you seek to be in control this sets you up with a mindset that you will only cope when the circumstances are a set way or you/your audience behaves a certain way. This actually promotes anxiety because if something different happens, you truly do feel out of control. You are off script with little or no flexibility to ad lib. This can mean you lose confidence about your ability to do a good job.

The desire to be in control creates a sense of anxiety if you feel you aren’t in control, it can make you feel like you are out of control. Worse than that, it comes with a precariousness even if you do achieve control, because then you don’t want to lose it and put a lot of effort and tension into maintaining it.

Flexibility and Choice

On the other hand, if you build your flexibility and responsiveness, and remember that you have choices no matter what happens, this will build your confidence. You always have choices, you might not always like your options, but knowing you have choices will help you feel safer.

How can you do this?

Changing your mindset, and letting go of control is where this process starts, and that can feel scary. It’s the reason I teach what I teach, because it has the power to truly transform how you perform and how you feel when you perform.

One thing to try right now is to assess how much you are trying to be in control. Scale it out of 10. 0 being not at all, and 10 being control-freakdom. How much energy is that using up?

Much love

p.s. If you are looking for some simple perspective shifts that will show you how to shift gears in how you perform and approach your performing, my Free Your Voice Mini-Course is the course for you. It teaches you a process I have taught to hundreds that truly transforms how you approach performing so that you can make choices in your performing that help you feel empowered and capable.

Right now, to help you kick of 2024 with confidence, I’m offering it for less than half price (that’s just £12) ❤️

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