Ineffective Beliefs Performers Have and How to Change Them

imagesLast time, in Five Silly Beliefs Performers Have, we discussed five silly or irrational beliefs that performers can have.   Well, there are more.  If these beliefs were just passing thoughts with little consequence, we wouldn’t have much to talk about, but they can have a huge effect on how you feel and definitely on how you perform.

If you’re like many performers who experience performance anxiety, you probably have strict expectations or make demands on yourself related to your performing.  These expectations or demands can cause irrational thinking that can lead to needless emotional grief.

Here are more silly or ineffective thoughts that rational performers often think at one point or another:

  1. Mistakes are never acceptable.  If I make one, it means that I am incompetent.
  2. If someone gives me a critique or negative feedback, it seems like a personal attack.
  3. My true value as a performer depends on what others think of me.
  4. Nothing ever turns out the way you want it to.
  5. There is no grey area.  If the outcome was not perfect, it was a complete failure.
  6. I am in absolute control of my life.  If something bad happens, it is my fault.

Musicians often think it is their performing that is upsetting them, but many times it is these thoughts about their performing that are the true cause of upset.  These thoughts and thinking patterns take your power away and cause you to remain a victim while avoiding all situational responsibility.

Psychologist, Albert Ellis, developed Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy to deal with faulty belief systems.  The primary tenets of REBT is that it is not the past or present events (or performing) that causes emotional disturbance, but our belief system about the event, about yourself or others.  Performers can learn from Dr. Ellis that they don’t have to get stuck in these ineffective thinking cycles.  You can overcome these beliefs by vigorously disputing them.

This is what REBT looks like:

  1. A.    Activating Event (didn’t make the finals of a major competition)
  2. B.    Beliefs (“It’s awful that I didn’t make it!”)
  3. C.    Consequences (You feel anxious, depressed, or like a failure.)
  4. D.    Disputing
  5. E.    Effect

An Activating Event can be not making the finals a major competition.  Your Irrational Beliefs about this could be:  “It’s awful that I didn’t make it.” “I am worthless and probably won’t ever perform better.” “I should have done better, but I knew I wouldn’t.”  Undesirable Consequences include emotions such as feeling worthless, anxious, and depressed and behaviors such as performing tentatively in the future, underperforming or making mistakes or having memory slips.  The next step is of Disputing these Irrational Beliefs which includes looking for evidence to support these beliefs (which there is none).  When disputing you ask Why is it awful that I didn’t make it?  How can I be worthless because of this?  Where is the evidence that I won’t ever perform better?  Why should I have done a better job?   Cognitive Effects of Disputing Irrational Beliefs reframes these ineffective and destructive beliefs:  “It is disappointing that I did not make the finals, but it is not awful.” “No matter how I perform, I am never worthless.” “There is no evidence that I ‘won’t ever perform better.’” “Maybe I could have performed better, but today I did the best I could.”

Unfortunately, knowing how to recognize and shoot down silly or ineffective beliefs doesn’t mean you will always feel wonderful and perform your best, but it sure makes it easier to do so.

You may feel some of the following appropriate emotions:

  • Frustration
  • Sorrow
  • Disappointment
  • Self-Acceptance
  • Hope

The best news of all is that the resulting desired behaviors have a chance to emerge:

  • Instead of constantly trying to prove yourself, you begin to work to improve yourself and your performing .
  • Instead of depending on your talent, you rely on your preparation and choosing great strategies and thinking patterns.
  • Instead of giving up or quitting, you keep performing and pursuing your goals.

If this article has helped you or you have something to add, I’d love to hear about it.  Please leave a comment below.

If you would like to explore this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Would you like to learn how to develop your own unique pre-performance routine and your most effective performance mindset?  Then, check out The Relaxed Musician:  Mental Preparation for Confident Performances.   Download Day 1 of the 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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