The following is based on Day 1 of my Goodbye Butterflies 5-Day Stage Fright Solution online training course.

—Dr. Fish

Why You Can’t Think Your Way Past Stage Fright


Like many young performers, I struggled with stage fright. It didn’t strike all the time, but it certainly kept me from performing at my best when I did get nervous. Stage fright also made performing in front of others unenjoyable.

For a person who otherwise loved making music, who had in fact devoted his life to it, this was a BIG problem. I knew I had to overcome my nerves if I was going to have a career as a performer.


At first, I tried to battle stage fright head on but with little success. No matter how much I attempted to reason my way past it, my nervousness didn’t go away, not even as I became a better performer.

Fortunately, during this same period, I began practicing Zen under Seung Sahn. He taught me something extraordinarily profound and yet so simple.

Thinking is often the source of our problems rather than the solution to them. On top of that, it’s almost impossible to control the thinking process that causes the problems.

A Little Experiment

Let me show you what I mean. I have a little experiment for you to try.

I’d like you to sit quietly for thirty seconds without thinking about anything. That’s it. Just sit quietly. Let your mind be completely still. (I’ll explain why in the next topic.)

Below, you’ll find a timer you can click to start when you’re ready to do so. It begins with a ten-second countdown before the 30 seconds to give you time to settle in. The thirty begins when you hear a bell and ends when you hear it again.

30-Second Timer

When you’ve completed the 30-second experiment, click on Page 2 below to view the answer to this fundamental problem with stage fright.