Performance Anxiety, Stage Fright and Strait Jackets!

Being a performer myself (for the past 30+ years) I have worked with quite a few performers, musicians, artists and sports people on many issues from improving their singing to enhancing creativity and stage fright.  One thing that I feel passionately about is that everybody already has the tools to overcome their barriers to achieving great things, I just help them connect with them by utilising the subconscious mind.

I've received quite a few emails asking about things related to performance anxiety and so I thought I would share this with you as it deals with my own performance anxiety many years ago and was also the catalyst for me looking at other ways of dealing with it (I was prescribed beta blockers by my GP.)

It's not a glossy, well written account as it is taken straight from my simple “memory jogger” notes for my new book, it just didn't quite fit in with the books tone and so I'm sharing it here... 


Not many people get to try a strait jacket on in their own lifetime, and if they do it's not usually a pleasant experience for them; however as I looked up and saw the tiny specs on the ground I suddenly realised that I should be truly thankful instead of terrified.  Thankful that each one of those specs raising their heads in order to see my escape had all gone to a lot of trouble to be there.

They had paid money for baby sitters, bought tickets, perhaps visited the beauty salon, bought nice clothes, maybe even made a night of it with a nice meal first. Who was I to rob by giving them less than my best because I was afraid?  Surely that was purely selfish act?

I owed them the best I could give and I had no right to give them anything less because they had demonstrated their faith and trust in me just by being there for the night.  The beta blockers the Dr. prescribed did their trick and I was able not to panic for that nights performance and I was literally mobbed by a joyous crowd after I landed safe on terra firma but I decided that at 18 years old I was not going to rely on medication used for the treatment of heart disease simply in order to perform.

That's was when my journey with hypnosis began... and I've never looked back!   It helped me to conquer my fear of re-creating Houdini's aerial strait jacket escape many times after that and it taught me how to help countless others from many different fields and backgrounds.  I'm a firm believer that we all have the tools and resources to help ourselves, I just act as a catalyst in order to set the ball rolling and, as that ball continues rolling it builds momentum and people find they are capable of much more than they imagined.

Sometimes one particular experience can shape us, I recall a singer in a band who seemed unable to sing to his full potential anywhere but when he was on his own.  In addition to this he would usually develop a painful throat around the same time his band had a gig.  When he first met up with me he couldn't even sing in front of me, however he pulled out his iphone and played me something he recorded while he was at home on his own.  It was markedly different to how he sounded in front of me.

In trance he spontaneously revivified (many therapists would have said regressed, however this was a revivification, not a regression and you should not fall into this trap*) an experience at school when  a teacher saw he was not moving his mouth while singing hymns.  He was made to stand up in front of the whole school and sing, an experience which he felt was particularly traumatic.  Though he had consciously forgotten about this whole experience, his subconscious hadn't and the combination of an authority figure (the teacher), a direct command (stand up there and sing in front of the whole school) and a bad experience had created an imprint.

Because the subconscious tries to look after us, to protect us, his painful throats (created by his subconscious) were a way of avoiding doing something it felt was unpleasant.  After some negotiation with the subconscious the issue was cleared away and the imprint dealt with.

My own experience with beta blockers many years ago was a one off prescribed by a Dr. for one performance and while it is understandable that someone would be nervous hanging from their ankles by a 1” nylon strap 100 feet in the air while trussed into a strait jacket I didn't want to be reliant on medication in order to perform and so I decided that enough was enough, and I discovered a better way.

© Brian Watson 2013


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