Taking a step back after a performance

After a performance, we may go through a whole range of feelings. We need to allow those to subside before we do any serious evaluation of our performance. We should assume that we will experience one or all of …

  • Elation
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Disorientation
  • Aggression or irritability (towards ourselves or others)

… over the next few hours or few days. Until these reactions have receded, we may not be able to make a discerning assessment of our performance, or how we prepared for it. It’s a good idea to give ourselves some time out immediately afterwards, without guilt, and assume that our post-performance evaluation needs to happen in at least a couple of days’ time.

What can we do in the meantime? Plan to nurture ourselves and to get positive company from others regardless of how the performance went, or how people reacted to it or us; watch our internal dialogue and the messages we give ourselves; also notice how we describe our performance experience to others. This period is really important, because we may repeat old patterns of self-sabotage, talking ourselves down, or fishing for reassurances from others. To repeat those now without being aware of doing so threatens to reinforce this negativity, and undermine our preparation for our next performance. Positive self-talk is a good antidote to this, as is non-judgmental awareness of how we behave and think after our performance.

If we decide to ask others about their opinions on our performance, it’s helpful to remember that we are asking them about their subjective responses, their perceptions. Whoever we ask, it’s worth bearing in mind that the person has their own personal background and priorities, and particular relationship dynamic (hopefully benign) with us; the person giving feedback may not have the specialist craft knowledge, or observational, analytical, and descriptive skills necessary to give accurate and relevant feedback that is appropriate to our current developmental needs and context.

Once we have taken into account all of these points, then we are in a position to evaluate our performance, and see what we can learn from it so that we can build on it for future performances. I’ve written on my blog about a method for doing this in Learning from Our Performances.

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