If you pay close attention to how you feel during stage fright, you will notice that the feeling is very familiar, and about as old as your earliest memories. It is the same feeling that you had when you were a small child – powerless, overwhelmed by the larger world and totally dependent on others for your very survival. The only possible survival strategy was to please those who could nurture and protect you, and more often than not, that meant hiding your true self, lest anyone become displeased or disappointed with the real you.
Tune in carefully, and you may notice that you actually feel like a small child when you become the center of attention. I think it is this “small child” feeling that people are running from and so reluctant to experience in front of others. It feels so powerless, like we have no control.
Without realizing it, we often automatically project the image of a critical, negative parent onto the audience, granting them tremendous authority to reject us (most assuredly, we believe) or accept us (hardly a chance of that, we feel). We just assume they will respond to us with the same critical judgment we experienced as children, no matter that the audience is most likely friendly and excited to hear what we have to say!
To heal stage fright, you have to stop running from the small-child sensations and relax at the center of attention so you reclaim the openness and innocence of being a small child. Even someone who faced the worst barrage of criticism as a child still has a primordial place of innocence within, waiting to be uncovered and re-energized to empower the adult he or she has become.
Reclaiming this state of innocence simply means to accept the sensations of your feelings and truth of you thoughts in front of others. It means to drop the false mask of adulthood so that you can stand present as you are before a group and really be there. When you can drop the mask, you feel free to share your real thoughts, feelings, insights and awareness with others. Only then can you truly heal stage fright.
I know it sounds scary and uncomfortable, but after facilitating thousands of people through the Zimmer Method for Authentic Communication, I can honestly say that most participants have been astounded at how quickly the tension disappeared when they stopped running from stage fright tension and stood still long enough to feel their feelings in front of a supportive group. Often within seconds of paying attention to the tension, people report that the tension is gone. If you are experiencing stage fright or fear of public speaking and you are ready to stop running from the fear, give yourself the gift of the Zimmer Method. Please look at http://www.self-expression.com/overcoming_stage_fright_sandra_zimmer.shtml to see what it is all about.