It was high profile too – tickets to the “Cambridge Creative Cabaret,” cost £18, and Emma was on the programme next to Britain’s Funniest Woman of 2012. No pressure!
Emma was also starting to realise that her poems revealed a lot about her – and she was going to read them to well over a hundred strangers. Perhaps worse, her mother and many of her close friends were going to be there. What would they think of her?
Remembering some CBT techniques she’d learnt, Emma asked herself if her fears were rational. She had read a poem on the radio the previous week and didn’t feel it had gone that well, so in her mind, her fears did seem entirely rational!
A mutual friend referred her to me, for some Brief Mindfulness coaching. At the start of the session, she rated her stress at 8 out of 10 (or 9 if she thought about going on stage – which she was doing quite a lot.)
I asked her to imagine that she could use a magic wand to create a perfect performance. How would it go?
She described how she’d really wow the audience, make them laugh and make them think. Emma herself would really enjoy the experience and be fully herself on stage. Afterwards, everyone would all be saying how wonderful her performance had been.
But of course, she didn’t have a magic wand… So I led her through the “Rapid Stress Reduction” sequence – a short and very specific process that develops different aspects of present moment awareness, and a clear sense of purpose.
Her stress level went down to 2 out of 10.
The performance itself? As well as reading her full set as planned, she ad-libbed in between and got some good audience interaction going. One comment on Facebook afterwards read: “You were brave and brilliant…..and brought utter silence and attentiveness.”
Emma rated her own performance at 80% of her perfect dream scenario – not bad for a first attempt.