Have you heard that statistic that public speaking is most people’s number one fear – rated higher for most folks than their fear of death?
It’s often not the actual act of speaking publicly that we are afraid of. It’s all the negative thoughts and fears in our heads that create the anxiety we feel.
“What if I say the wrong thing? What if I sound stupid? Will they laugh at me? Will I sound weird? What if my mind goes blank? What if I talk too fast? Will they judge me?”
My hands are sweating and my heart is beating just typing these words.
All of these negative thoughts can lead to different symptoms like speech impediments when were speaking, avoiding public speaking all together, sweating nervously, feeling panic in our bodies–or complete panic attacks.
So, let’s think about this: a very common (maybe universal?) fear is putting ourselves out there and being judged, rejected, and not good enough.
OK… so how does this relate to sex?
Most of the time when folks come into my office with sexual difficulties, performance anxiety is playing a role.
The symptoms can look different depending on the person or couple: maybe they are avoiding sex, or have a low sex drive. Maybe they are overthinking things, experiencing feelings of panic, orgasming too fast or not at all. Or having problems with arousal like dryness or erectile dysfunction.
But inside, they are having very similar negative thoughts we might have during public speaking:
“What will they think of me? Will they like what I’m doing? What if I mess it up somehow?”
Very different situations but very similar internal feelings, thoughts, and outcomes.
All to say: you’re not a big weirdo if you have performance anxiety. It is super common and there are research-based ways to treat it.
I love helping folks with performance anxiety whether it relates to sex or any social situation and here’s what I know:
- Just talking about it in therapy or with others decreases the anxiety because it forces us to get out of our head.
- We cannot perform sexually, socially, or athletically to the best of our abilities if our body is stressed. Negative thoughts increase panic symptoms and there are research-based methods to get out of her head while relaxing into our bodies to a place of calm and connection.
You can enjoy sex again.
Reach out for sex therapy to support you with your performance anxiety.