Whether you just had a terrible performance or you choked during an audition, there is nothing else quite like the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you feel like you've experienced an epic failure at what you love to do - performing!
We've all been there - myself included - and in fact, I talk about this in the most recent podcast episode. Because even as we become more and more experienced I don't think we ever really get to the point where we're satisfied 100% of the time. Even All Stars don't win every game!
And so I think it's hugely important to have some kind of tools or methods for coping and dealing with these feelings of frustration or failure. Here are five of my favorite methods for dealing with post-performance disappointment:
Five Ways to Bounce Back After Bombing
1. Let yourself experience your emotions. Whatever emotions we are unwilling to feel will control us. It's useless to try to completely ignore or push against our feelings of disappointment, so first thing you have to do is just be ok with the fact that you are feeling sadness, anger, frustration, or disappointment.
2. Take inventory of what you did well and where you might be over-dramatizing. This isn't your last performance. There will be others and this in-your-mind "failure" is an opportunity to improve. Once your emotions have settled, try to view the event objectively and decide for yourself what lessons you can take away for next time, see where you might be "over-dramatizing" the situation, and take note of what you actually did do well.
3. Use anger or jealousy as a navigation tool. Did something you or someone else do really piss you off? Do you find yourself feeling envious of someone else you work with? These emotions can feel uncomfortable but they're also a great guide to show us what we really care about. Your anger shows you what you're passionate about and if you're jealous of someone perhaps it's because they've achieved something that you also hope to one day achieve.
4. Find the humor in the situation. What at first feels like a touchy subject will someday make a hilarious story. Try to start finding the funny in what happened now. By claiming the humor in it, you are making it your story and learning to take yourself less seriously helping to make you feel less like a target for criticism and more like a loveable human who makes mistakes like anyone else.
5. Find a way to let other people's versions of the performance become your own. Were there friends or fans there that saw your performance differently than you did and actually LOVED it? See if you can allow yourself to see it through their eyes. With practice and focus you can let this more forgiving version wash over you, become your own, and replace the more negative version that you started with.
That last technique is what I used to get over myself after a recent performance and you can actually listen to me talk myself through it moment-by-moment in this raw podcast episode I recorded with my travel microphone from my tent at a music and dance festival this summer.
The biggest takeaway I hope that you have is - whatever you do, don't give up.
You and your work are priceless gifts . . . even if at times you lose sight of it.
P.S. Want to listen to a podcast episode where I coach an actor who recently bombed an audition for a co-star role? Click here to go to Episode 31 Audition with Improv: A Coaching Call with An Actor