Do You Worry or Care Too Much What Others Think?

Well?  Do you?  Do you find yourself worrying or caring too much about what others are thinking or saying about you?

Worrying or caring too much what others think about you and your performing is one of the biggest challenges that performers report facing.  Anything that distracts you or causes you to doubt yourself, your skills, and your abilities as much as this kind of worry does, must be addressed and stopped.

Managing your practice and performing is enough of a challenge without the added burden of managing other people’s perceptions of you as well.   If worrying or caring too much about others’ perceptions of you is an issue you deal with, it is important that you get to the bottom of it.  Ask yourself:  What am I afraid of?  What might other people discover about me?  What’s the worst they could think?

Don’t think that those were rhetorical questions—really answer them and write your answers down:

  1. What am I afraid of?
  2. What might they discover about me?
  3. What is the worst they could think of me or my performing?

Once you’ve written down every answer you can think of—really take time to scour your mind and come up with every possible answer, then, ask yourself the MOST important question of all:

SO WHAT?

What if the very thing you are most afraid of or what you are most concerned that someone would discover about you or your performingor they end up thinking the worst thing they could possibly think actually happens?

AGAIN, SO WHAT?

So what then?  You have absolutely no control over other peoples’ thoughts or opinions about you.  REMEMBER:  You cannot choose what others will think about you, but you can choose how much time you devote to worrying, caring, or trying to read their minds to find out.   Any time you devote to this worry, robs your practice or performing of the sharp focus on what will actually help you perform and practice better.

Jan had always been self-conscious about her playing.  She had started playing a little later than most of her friends and always felt a little behind.  She worried about being good enough and needed to constantly impress her friends and teachers.  In her sophomore year of college everything came to a head.  After years of working so hard to impress everyone, trying not to make mistakes, and making sure everyone liked and respected her playing, she finally had a melt down.   In one terrible semester, it all stopped.

Her teacher submitted her name to participate in a master class with a professional violist.  The master teacher mocked her publicly in their session together.   The whole auditorium exploded in laughter.  Immediately afterward, several students were gathered in the hallway.  When they saw Jan, they started to laugh and as she walked away, she heard one of the other string players ask, “Why do you think she was admitted as a performance major?  Maybe it was a mistake.”   The shame she felt drove her to despair.  Her grades suffered and she nearly lost her scholarship.  Although painful, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to her.

As a freshman and halfway through her sophomore year, she had been so self-conscious.  She held back and played tentatively.  She always left her best playing at home or in the practice room.  But when her worst fears were realized and everybody saw her as a failure, something strange happened.

Jan was suddenly set free.  She was free to be exactly who she wanted to be.  She stopped spending time and energy on wondering what people thought, and instead she asked herself what she could do to play better, to play more easily and more expressively.  She stopped trying to earn everyone’s approval.  Having lost it once, in such a big way, taught her how futile it was to have put so much stock in other people’s opinions in the first place.

She learned that what drove her worry was a profound fear of being exposed as a loser, a fraud, and a fool.

Next time you find yourself caring too much about what others think or a mind-reading worry pops into your head, remember Jan’s experience.   Decide on a physical cue such as clapping your hands three times or stomping your feet or just saying, “STOP!” to remind you that YOU CHOOSE what to think and focus on and mind-reading is not on your list today!

Want to learn more about how to develop your own unique pre-performance routine and your most effective mindset? Then, check out The Relaxed Musician: Mental Preparation for Confident Performances, A 14-Day Plan Download Day 1 workbook and audio to see how the program can work for you. With purchase, you will receive 2 great bonuses—Your Pre-Performance Checklist and the e-book, Letting Go of the Need to be Perfect!

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