Stage anxiety and fear of making a mistake

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Robert Maurer
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Stage anxiety and fear of making a mistake

What do stage anxiety and fear of making mistakes consist of? When do they manifest themselves? What can we do if fear paralyzes us? We talk about it in this article!

Last update: October 26, 2020

Stage anxiety and the fear of making a mistake affect everyone. In fact, these are normal feelings when we are exposed to the judgment of others.

They generally go hand in hand, because one of the triggers of anxiety is the judgment of others on our way of acting (performance anxiety).



Although these fears are normal, when they become too intense they can limit the person's life causing her to forgo valid opportunities. Below we describe the characteristics of these two emotions, their respective symptoms, and then conclude with some tips to deal with them.

Characteristics of stage anxiety

Stage anxiety becomes problematic when it limits the individual, ending up causing a considerable malaise.

You may notice an abandonment of some activities or a refusal to participate in certain events, all motivated by the fear of the judgment of others. Wanting to control these feelings very often is the very cause of the problem, as it causes symptoms that cause you to feel unwell. Among these symptoms the following stand out:

  • Tremor of the limbs.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Knot in the throat.
  • Pressure in the chest and stomach.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Nausea.
  • Feeling of being out of reality.
  • Fear of losing control of the situation.
  • Fear of failure and of judgment.

Stage anxiety and fear of making a mistake

It is normal, and even healthy, for judgment, or perception of it, to awaken a reaction in us. In the case of stage anxiety, this reaction is so intense that it compromises, stops, or hinders performance. On the other hand, expecting too much of oneself is very often at the origin of this fear.



In other situations, anticipating failure leads to putting in place a series of measures to completely eliminate or avoid feelings that are actually normal. These attempts, however, only accentuate them. Like this, the feelings that the individual tries to erase can come to attract most of his attention, relegating the exhibition to the background.

What can we do if stage anxiety and fear of making a mistake arise?

It must be said that stage anxiety affects everyone (even those who are more used to performing in public), regardless of the type of performance.

Sometimes we tend to focus on the speeches given by relatively successful people, thinking that they don't have to deal with fears and insecurities. Yet, very often, the only difference is that they go further.

If these sensations accompany you, probably for you the situation is not insignificant. But to what extent are you willing to be overwhelmed? What can you do to distance yourself?

Some recommendations to keep in mind

The advice to be taken into account are the following:

  • Record the rehearsal of the performance that you will have to do in public (dance, play an instrument, give a speech on a specific topic, discuss a thesis, etc ...). Seeing / listening to you will help you to expose yourself in small doses to circumstances that can generate fear in you. While recording, you can deliberately make mistakes to see how far they interfere with your performance.
  • Overcome challenges. What else, in your everyday life, causes you a state of anxiety similar to that of performing in public? What do you usually do in these cases? What do these symptoms say about something you think you can't do? What small step can you take to change things a bit?
  • Observe the symptoms as if you were a scientist about to make a discovery. Mindfulness techniques can help you become familiar with the symptoms to get to know them more deeply and distance yourself from them, without them taking over.

Stage anxiety and fear of making mistakes go hand in hand in certain situations that can be unpleasant. They can even paralyze the person or be seen as an insurmountable obstacle. Nonetheless, the strategies chosen to deal with them can feed fear, especially if we focus on censorship of thoughts or prevention of exposure.



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