Performance anxiety: that tremendous fear of making mistakes

L'anxiety in its various manifestations it is a very common emotional state that affects a large part of human experience. In some cases it can take the form of "afraid of being afraid”, In the absence of a concrete danger, faced with a situation that does not present a real danger but which represents a threat to adaptation and / or survival. 

More and more frequently today we talk about performance anxiety, which can be defined as a particular form and expression of experience related toanxiety.
Specifically, it is possible to define theperformance anxiety like that afraid of making mistakes which occurs when we are faced with activities that require or seem to require a certain amount performance. It is a very widespread experience that can involve different areas of the person's life: it is possible to experience anxiety from relational, school, work, sexual, sports performance, just to mention some areas where it is possible to find this type of event more frequently.
  1. Relational performance anxiety: occurs when there is a continuous search for esteem by others, one's own esteem it is linked to external acknowledgments, each relationship becomes a task and the achievement of a result with the consequent fear of not being up to it. Great space is given tosocial acceptance and, in case of negative reviews, self-esteem is completely destroyed. Relational performance anxiety can be very disabling to the point of leading the person to avoid any contact with others.
  1. School performance anxiety: is a complex problem that affects an ever increasing number of children e teens in school age. It brings with it the fear of failure, of negative judgment, the fear of not being able to pass the test that you have to face, to be ridiculed. There is great concern and expectation of the worst.

  2. Work performance anxiety: it manifests itself in this area as fear of not being able to perform the required tasks and / or the results to be achieved. Fear of failure and to be criticized and / or judged, anticipate catastrophic scenarios. Fear that often pushes the person to work many hours longer than normal hours and neglecting a whole series of extra-work commitments such as family, friends and sports activities, investing all the time at work, worsening the quality of family and interpersonal relationships. There may be a tendency to perfectionism, excessive control and self-control.

  3. Sports performance anxiety: every race is experienced as an exam, athletes often manage to give their best in training and fail to confirm their race record where the possible afraid of losing it becomes invalidating with the consequent decrease in performance following an early depletion of physical and mental energies.

  4. Sexual performance anxiety: concerns both men and women, occurs when sexual intercourse is experienced as a performance, with the fear of disappointing the partner or not to live up to his expectations. Often there may be a complex performance and evaluation dimension, confirmed by thecontentment of the partner, all this takes the person away from experiencing sexuality with contentment and desire.

Behind all these manifestations is the afraid of making mistakes and the presence of thoughts oriented tofailure which take over by creating concern and catastrophic scenarios that can even go as far as "blocking" the person, involving every area of ​​life and altering its natural course.

Through a path of psychotherapy you can explore the "afraid of being afraid ", to acquire awareness with respect to dysfunctional ways of thinking and automatic mechanisms to be able to experiment with new ways of relating to oneself and others.


Marika Nuti


* Notes on the author:
Marika Nuti is Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Mindfulness Teacher. He graduated in clinical and community psychology at the University of Florence, specializes in Gestalt psychotherapy with an existential phenomenological address at the Gestal Institute of Florence and finishes the course as a Mindfulness teacher at the CFM, Center for Mindfulness in medicine, health care, and society, Medical school University of Massachussets. She works by offering individual psychotherapy services to adults and minors, organizes mindfulness workshops and groups for stress reduction through the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program. Within Psy + Onlus it is part of the school psychology services area and the team of psychotherapists of the Clinical Psychological Counseling Center.

psychotherapy, anxiety, fear, make a mistake

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