Today I begin blog about my current gig. I hereby make a commitment to blogging out a couple of sentences about each day, hopefully after each show. My purpose is to document the travels through a few weeks of about 20 performance of a rock musical accompanied by my anxious human mind.
A few years ago, I was given a wonderful opportunity - a six month run of a quite challenging horn part in a musical, in which I got to explore ACT processes and to see if I could use to help with to my own persistent, debilitating performance anxiety. I saw this as an opportunity to experiment eight times a week - try things out ideas that my psychologist suggested, assess how they worked, and then either repeat that, or try something different the next performance.
I have described this experience to a number of clients - I talk about how every single show I would watch the same catastrophic thoughts, feelings and sensations turn up in the same place, show after show, and then subside with monotonous regularity, while at the same time always asking myself 'why am I doing this when it feels so bad?'
To be honest, money was the main reason I turned up. I certainly wouldn't have done it for free. The praise, support and acknowlegement from kind colleagues also helped. I needed a confidence boost after many years on the retired bench.
But the less cynical side of me looked a bit further and noticed that I cared about 'music' - making it as beautiful as I could for the audience and for my colleagues. I cared about being competent, I cared about accuracy as it served beauty.
All of these I tried to focus on.
In the presence of fear.