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Keep in a Extra Constructive Headspace Earlier than Performances

It’s the day earlier than an audition or efficiency. And as you’re taking a couple of minutes to evaluate some difficult sections, instantly you are feeling a twinge of tension and fear about how subpar all the pieces sounds. How unprepared you are feeling. And your ideas are full of stress-inducing worst-case situations and what-if’s.

You recognize that the fitting factor to do in these moments, when your thoughts begins to spiral to the dangerous place, is to “assume constructive.”

However these are additionally the precise moments when it’s hardest to assume good ideas.

In spite of everything, most of us have a pure tendency to dwell on unfavorable ideas. To fret in regards to the future, bemoan previous selections and decisions, and concentrate on what’s bothering us proper now within the current. 

From a survival perspective, this most likely makes good sense.

However from a efficiency perspective, this negativity bias could make it tough to remain in a extra self-affirming, performance-enhancing headspace earlier than large auditions or performances.

So how can we get higher at considering higher ideas and adopting a extra optimum mindset once we want it most?

A constructive considering problem

A staff of researchers (Westgate et al., 2017) recruited 142 undergraduates, and advised them they’d be spending a while “entertaining themselves with their ideas.”

To arrange for this, they had been requested to put in writing down 8 matters they’d get pleasure from fascinated with. The matters that contributors generated ranged from “my marriage ceremony day” or “my household” or “the upcoming summer time” to extra particular situations like “having enjoyable on Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend and getting presents and hugs from him” or “what my life can be like if I had been residing in Azeroth (World of Warcraft).”

Everybody was then requested to spend 6 minutes engaged in a “considering interval.” 

Individuals had been instructed to “spend the time entertaining your self along with your ideas as finest you possibly can.” And inspired to make this considering time as nice as doable, avoiding specializing in mundane on a regular basis actions or unfavorable issues of their life.

Two teams

After all, it’s not really easy to remain in a constructive headspace for six minutes, so to make this problem simpler, one group (the subject reminder group) was given reminders of the pleasant matters they listed earlier. 

Sitting in entrance of a pc display, they had been proven every of their 8 matters, one by one, with the flexibility to click on to the following one every time they had been finished fascinated with the one on the display.

The opposite group (the management group) didn’t get any such subject prompts. Solely the directions “you don’t must assume solely about [the 8 topics they wrote down], however they could be a helpful start line.” 

And whereas they too sat in entrance of a pc display, their display merely displayed the message “please take into consideration the matters you listed earlier” insead of displaying their matters as prompts.

The 2 teams’ duties had been primarily equivalent. The one distinction was that one group merely had a “cheat sheet” of nice matters to consider in entrance of them.

Would this seemingly trivial tweak make any distinction?

4 variations

After finishing the 6-minute problem, contributors had been requested to fee their expertise in a number of totally different areas – akin to:

  1. how a lot they loved the 6-minute train
  2. how tough they discovered it to pay attention
  3. how a lot mind-wandering occurred
  4. to what diploma they thought in regards to the 8 matters they recognized versus different unrelated ideas

And was there any distinction between the 2 teams?


Because it seems, the contributors who obtained reminders rated their “considering interval” as being extra pleasant (5.90 vs. 5.22; the place 1=under no circumstances pleasant, 9=extraordinarily pleasant).

Issue concentrating

The reminder group additionally discovered it simpler to pay attention (3.58 vs. 5.18; the place 1=under no circumstances tough to pay attention, 9=extraordinarily tough to pay attention).


They had been additionally much less vulnerable to mind-wandering (4.51 vs. 5.93; the place 1=under no circumstances, 9=very a lot).

Thought of matters

And finally, the reminder group was way more targeted on the 8 matters they wrote down (7.01 vs. 5.95; the place 1=solely about different matters, 9=solely in regards to the 8 matters).

All in all, the info counsel that having reminders made it simpler and extra pleasant to interact in ideas about nice matters.


Earlier analysis on constructive considering point out that intentionally guiding one’s ideas in the direction of nice ideas requires effort. And due to this effort that’s required, it’s often simpler to only let our ideas wander to no matter pops into our head within the second. 

Like watching no matter occurs to be on the TV when you run on the treadmill on the health club, as a result of it’s an excessive amount of bother to search for the distant and discover one thing you truly wish to watch.

Sadly, below strain, the place does your thoughts are inclined to go by default?

Yep…often the worst doable locations. Like worst-case situations. Previous failures. Just about all of the issues that make us really feel much less assured.

Take motion

So whereas it might sound just a little foolish to create such a factor, maybe it wouldn’t be such a nasty thought to create a “positivity cheat sheet” upfront. A brief record of moments, recollections, ideas, suggestions, quotes, or photos that make it easier to keep in a extra constructive headspace.

It may very well be so simple as a 3×5 notecard that you just hold in your case. Or perhaps a notes doc in your telephone.

The concept being, your poor mind already has so much on its thoughts the day of an audition or efficiency.

As an alternative of expending additional effort to will your thoughts to assume constructive ideas, use your cheat sheet to assist set off recollections of the final time you had a terrific efficiency. Or the supportive feedback or compliments you’ve obtained from academics or colleagues whose opinions you belief and respect. And even post-audition plans to hang around with buddies on the new Vietnamese taco place you’ve been curious to attempt for months.

All of which is able to hopefully make it easier to go into your efficiency feeling one thing that’s just a little nearer to pleasure than anxiousness.


Westgate, E. C., Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. (2017). With just a little assist for our ideas: Making it simpler to assume for pleasure. Emotion, 17(5), 828–839.



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