How Overthinking Impacts Your Performance as as Singer
While I was trying to determine the topic of this week’s video, a cool thing happened. I couldn’t decide what to do and was spinning my wheels. So I decided to take a step back and l reached for one of my favorite books: Zen Guitar. I opened up the book and the page I saw was titled “Overthinking”. Random or not, I felt like it was a sign to chat about this topic with you all today! Singers often overthink what they’re doing – whether it’s on or off the stage – and it’s a very common occurrence. Singing certainly requires focus. But if we aren’t careful, we can be easily overwhelmed and overthink our process to the point that it becomes detrimental to our music making. Today I want to talk about how overthinking impacts your performance as a singer – and what you can do about it!
Avoid getting lost in your thoughts…
Singing is all about action. The actions that we take impacts the muscles that we’re trying to use, improve, or build strength on. Action also helps when you’re trying to help get over a fear or anxiety when it comes to your singing. While you could try to just “learn” your way out of that fear, you have to actually DO something to find change. It’s so easy to fill your head with do’s and don’ts. And, it’s easy to focus on theories and exact things to change about your singing. But if all we’re focusing on is those thoughts, we aren’t actually trying to do anything and we’re often more of a harm to ourselves than not. Overthinking means either LESS action, OR, that you’re taking action when you aren’t actually inspired to do so. This also leads to overwhelm.
As an artist, you want to take the responsibility of surrounding yourself with people who inspire you, who fulfill your musical core, and who help bring out the magic that is inside of you as a performer. If you aren’t able to do this, then you must fill yourself up with this feeling. At the end of the day, you are your gatekeeper. Give yourself time to learn things and build motor skills (which is what singing is!). Then you can find clarity in those skills so that you aren’t lost in the details and can also focus on your artistry. Knowing the best next step for yourself is critical to your progress and to avoid getting overwhelmed in the process. Are you clear on your areas of focus? Do these areas of focus lead to you feeling productive? Knowing what to focus on is a great way to keep yourself moving and not stalling out, overthinking.
What contributes to overthinking?
There’s three main things that I feel contributes to overthinking as a singer. The first is perfectionism. So many of us have specific standards that we set for ourselves as performers. We then find that we’re unhappy if we don’t reach that standard. For many of us, we’re simply setting the bar too high too soon. Instead, consider breaking that higher standard into smaller steps. This means less “failing” and self-sabotaging throughout the process. The next one is doubt. Doubt is something that singers (and all of us!) feel often. Instead of taking action, we often think, because it feels “safer”. But instead of actually helping us, we wind up running ourselves into the ground worrying about what we can/can’t do or should/shouldn’t have done. Finally, the last one is not knowing where to focus. That’s such a huge part of overthinking! If you don’t know where to put your energy, you’re going to feel scattered and likely amplify your doubt and perfectionism throughout the process.
The next step…
Finding the next step for yourself is key to moving past overthinking and into a zone of improvement and change as a singer. That next step can sometimes be hard to see alone – which is why surrounding yourself with others who inspire you (or things that inspire you) is key. A teacher, a mentor, a friend, a colleague, an item… these things can help you chase your goals with focus and your next step(s) in mind.
If you start to feel yourself overthinking as a singer, I encourage you to take a step back and remember that that being worried, overwhelmed, or doubting yourself never really lead to something that feels good. Take a step back, remember what inspires you, and then take action from this place.