Performance anxiety is just the tip of the iceberg. Lynn Lyons breaks down the process of dealing with anxiety, and explains the difference between regular worry and something more disruptive. Her tips can easily be adapted to help the students in your class approach events like performances, solos, or auditions with more courage and confidence.


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Highlight to Tweet: “When you are comparing yourself to someone else, you are comparing your inside to their outside.” -Lynn Lyons

“Anxiety is a quest for certainty, and there is no way to appease it.” – Lynn Lyons

“It’s a very courageous thing, to be a performer.” -Lynn Lyons

Show Notes:

  • What’s going on with anxiety? Is it as bad as it seems?
    • Worry and anxiety are both normal parts of our lives.
    • When worry takes over, and starts to cause us to avoid certain things, it becomes a problem.
    • Anxiety says, “No thanks, I’m out.” It leads to avoiding normal daily activities.
  • Anxiety and worry are particular problems for creative people. Imagination can amplify worry’s effect.
  • What happens when we try to eliminate worry and anxiety? (Hint: it gets worse!)
    • The more you try to eliminate worry, the stronger it gets.
    • Externalize the worry. When it shows up (because of course it will), recognize it, acknowledge it, and allow it to be there. Then pivot and do whatever you came to do.
  • What’s the connection between anxiety and depression?
    • Untreated anxiety is the “speed lane” into depression.
    • Anxiety is one of the top predictors of depression in adolescents.
  • We need to normalize anxiety.
  • Anxiety’s agenda is comfort and certainty. We must learn to tolerate uncertainty.
  • Live performance is a great arena for learning the skills to cope with uncertainty (anxiety).
  • What should everyone know about anxiety, but most people don’t?
    • Breathing alone won’t control your anxiety. It’s a great first step, but there needs to be a follow up.
    • Worry convinces you that “you can’t handle it.” Everyone hears that voice. But we can change our relationship to that voice. The “what” isn’t as important as “how” you deal with it.


Lynn Lyons, LICSW is an internationally recognized psychotherapist, author, and speaker with a special interest in interrupting the generational patterns of anxiety in families. Her skill-based approach to anxiety focuses on the need to teach families about HOW anxiety works and what families can do to pull members out of the powerful “anxiety cult” that demands obedience to its need for certainty and comfort. Lynn’s approach uses humor, playful connection, and a constant focus on DOING, an umbrella strategy she has taught to thousands of professionals and families.
Lynn is the author of several books, including Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents with Reid Wilson.
She maintains a private practice in Concord, New Hampshire where she sees families whenever she’s not on the road teaching.

Resources/links Mentioned:

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