Using Self Talk to Increase Performance Confidence (Part 1 of 2)

A very common problem for musicians is confidence when performing. So many musicians struggle with this. Many legendary musicians have suffered from crippling performance anxiety, and many have let that toxicity destroy their lives and careers. There are lots of ways to combat performance anxiety, including meditation, hypnosis, confidence exercises like power-posing, and of course, being as prepared as possible. In this article I’ll talk about how you can pinpoint and leverage self-talk behaviors that will help keep your performance confidence up.

Common misconceptions

Many people think of confidence as something you either have or you don’t have. And there is a kernel of truth to that. Confidence comes more easily to some people than it does to others. It’s also complex, among people who don’t have confidence, some are better at faking than others. And among those who do, some are more arrogant and some more down to earth. Confidence is a spectrum. And not all people who you would expect to have confidence actually have it. You can’t wait for success to make you confident. You must do the work now, because if you’re not confident when you do make it big, that pressure mixed with self doubt can be crippling. You must learn to believe in your own capability.

So where do we start?

The absolute first place to start with building your performance confidence is to make sure you are as prepared as possible. Beyond that, there’s a lot you can do to shift your mindset and start believing in yourself and your work. Self talk is a major buzz-word these days and for good reason. How you talk to yourself has a huge effect on your experience of yourself and your life. And these patterns can be consciously changed if you take the time to notice them and actively work to change them.

Thinking confidently.

Ok so what do we need to do to start thinking confidently? First we’ll discuss how to become aware of your self talk, and in the next part, we’ll address how to change it.

Identify negative self-talk.

Start paying attention to how you talk to yourself in your thoughts. This can be difficult at first because most of the time we don’t even realize we are talking to ourselves. Start by paying attention to your moods. Are you feeling bad, grumpy, guilty, untalented? Once you notice that you’re in a negative mood, start paying attention to the thoughts that come up. Are you saying things like, “I’ll never get this,” or, “I wish I could play x as good as so and so…”? Make a list of things that you hear yourself saying. Add to it whenever you notice new thoughts and put stars next to the ones that come up most often. Spend a few days to a week doing this. Really do your best to get a picture of your internal monologue and your thoughts about yourself. Pay extra close attention at vulnerable moments in your musical journey, like practicing, rehearsing, or composing. Make sure you see how to relate to these important parts of your musical life.

Move on to Part 2 to understand how to change the patterns you’re getting in touch with to improve your confidence and perform better.

Guest Post by Allie Mazon