The Lies of Performance Anxiety And 4 Key Steps To Lead You Out

I have been on this emotional healing journey to heal my heart of the lies of performance anxiety. As I share my heart with you I want to encourage you to ask Jesus if there is any area of performance in your own heart that He wants to heal. 

Getting Healed of Performance Anxiety

I humbly write this blog after a long season (over 5 years) of crying out to Jesus asking Him why I was so obsessed with being perfect and why I was so intimidated in certain areas of my life. I look back and I realize I was trying to find my identity. Jesus gently showed me that He was everything I was looking for, that He would supply the love I so desperately desired, and that He would heal me from the hole in my heart that was starved for approval and validation. I was searching for the approval and validation that I never got from either of my parents. This drove me to perfectionism and belieiving the lies of performance anxiety. You can read my full story here.

It’s been a hard journey and I finally feel released to share with you what I have learned. My prayer is that this blog would minister to you and that Jesus would heal your heart too.

The Lies of Performance Anxiety

The lies of performance anxiety are rooted in the spirit of pride. Pride says I can do everything myself. The problem with pride is that it eliminates Jesus from the picture. If I can do everything myself then I do not have a need for Jesus in my life. 

The lies of performance look something like this:

  • “If I perform well (at my job, as a wife, mom, friend, etc.) I’ll be loved”
  • “If I make a mistake everyone will leave me and I won’t be loved so I can never make a mistake”
  • “If I get vulnerable and show my true self people will know my weaknesses and they will reject me”
  • “I work to get the approval of others because if people do not approve of me I can’t handle it because I won’t be loved”

Do any of these lies resonate with your heart? Whew! I still can’t believe how much these deceptions used to rule my life. I am thankful everyday for Jesus and how He shows me my faults then leads me out. As my heart is healing from these lies all I can do is think of how thankful I am that I’m growing and learning how to break free. He wants to do the same for you!! 

“Remember we need to grow through what we go through.”

-Rayna Piazza, Author of the Seeking Him Today Blog

The Cycle of Performance

Once we believe the lies of performance then we get roped into pride and offense. It’s an exhausting cycle because when you feel you don’t perform well you get prideful saying, “I did that well why don’t they approve of me?”  Then, you get offended because deep down the rejection made you feel unloved. The offense only deepens when a loved one corrects you saying, “I don’t agree with you. I think you should do blank.” Under offense we cannot receive correction from that person. This is because the correction makes you feel judged by them instead of the what was originally intended which was either a difference of opinion or some well intentioned advice. What we need to learn in this place is that correction is not rejection. 

The cycle of performance, goes like something this. You perform to be loved. The performance is rooted in pride because we want the performance to get us accolades. If we don’t perceive the performance was well received by the other person then we get offended. The person you are offended with corrects you saying what went wrong. You can’t receive the correction from them because you’re offended with them. Then, you end up feeling judged by that person who is correcting you and the entire cycle ultimately reinforces the performance lie that you are unloved and rejected. What a mess!

Again, the cycle goes:

  • Performance 
  • Pride
  • Offense
  • Feeling judged 
  • Feeling unloved/rejected

Looking For Love

At the end of the day we are all just looking for love. God made us that way. But, where we get messed up is looking for that love in the wrong places. The right place to look and where you will always find never ending love is in the arms of Jesus!! When we perform for love we are looking to other people to fulfill a place only God can fulfill. That’s where we get roped into the performance cycle over and over again. 

The real question is how do you dispel the lies of performance? I have put together a four-step process to lead you out. 

Step One: Come To The End Of Yourself 

To even begin to get free of the lies of performing for love, you have to come to the end of yourself. Humble yourself and accept that you are wrong for believing the lies of performance. 

When you arrive at this place, you can lay down all the mechanisms you have used your entire life to try to survive. Give up all the unhealthy games that you have played with yourself and others. This is a very vulnerable place where you feel naked and you don’t even know how to respond to life. 

Stay Humble

Stay in this humble place with Jesus. Invite Him in. Let God show you your behavior patterns. When the Bible talks about the flesh in Romans 8 it is referring to behaviors that are rooted in lies just like the lies of performance. Choosing to believe God’s truth even though it goes against everything your flesh wants to do is the way out. 

So then, beloved ones, the flesh has no claims on us at all, and we have no further obligation to live in obedience to it. [13] For when you live controlled by the flesh, you are about to die. But if the life of the Spirit puts to death the corrupt ways of the flesh, we then taste his abundant life. [14] The mature children of God are those who are moved by the impulses of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:12-14 TPT

When we let the lies of the enemy rule our lives we live in the flesh but when we choose to no longer believe the lies we embrace His truth. Then we get a taste of the abundant life and we begin to mature in Him. 

As you lay down the lies of performance, being the victim, and blaming others start to pick up accountability and accepting who you are, faults and all. Acceptance is a BIG part of this process. We all have faults and when you’re ready to accept yours God can move powerfully in your life. In this place of acceptance, you will learn to receive love. 

Take Action on Step One

Set aside some time in a quiet space then ask yourself: What are the lies of performance that I am believing? Open your heart to receive every lie. If at first you don’t hear anything, ask Jesus to help you. Write down each lie. I created the mindset journal specifically for dealing with your thoughts.

Step Two: Repent 

I’m not going to lie to you. Coming to the end of yourself then repenting is a painful experience because you are examining so many of your faults. Don’t get discouraged in this place. Let the pain roll in because we have to feel the pain to release it.

The next step is to repent for believing these lies because the lies of performance and each offense put a filter on your heart. Once that filter is in place you can’t see things for what they are; you can only see through the eyes of your offense, which is why these offenses rarely get resolved. 

The arguments and offenses you have with co-workers, friends or your spouse are only symptoms. The roots are performance and offense which are both protected by the wall around your heart that says “I’m not loved if I don’t do it perfectly”. As we believe these lies we build a wall around our heart to protect ourselves. If the wall doesn’t come down then no one can get in to rescue you, not even Jesus. 

What Happens When I Repent?

The promise of repentance is in Acts 3:19. When you repent your sins are wiped away and times of refreshing come. In these times of refreshing you will experience the presence of God. Repentance is a beautiful place of restoration. As you heal your heart, the presence of God settles into your life. You will feel peace and joy again. 

So repent [change your inner self -your old way of thinking, regret past sins] and return [to God -seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day];

Acts 3:19, The Amplified Bible

The battle you are fighting is in your mind. The war is fought against your core beliefs around performance and offense. As you uncover the lies, repent and ask Jesus for the truth about the situation and how you can respond differently. As you begin to believe the truth about each offense, you will start to gain courage to dismantle the wall. In this place your flesh gets dealt with in a big way! It’s the place of greatest change at a deep level. Don’t miss it!!

You will thank the Lord for this place of repentance because it will become one of your greatest victories. But don’t move through repentance fast. Let Jesus fully reveal yourself to you. 

Take Action on Step Two

Take the lies you wrote down in your journal from step one and humbly repent to Father God for believing each lie then ask Him to show you the truth regarding each lie. Ask Jesus to forgive you for believing these lies. Repent for coming into agreement with pride and offense then renounce the spirit of pride and the spirit of offense. Ask Jesus to soften your heart and to show you His perspective.

Step Three: Forgive Yourself and Forgive Others

As Jesus reveals to you the lies in your heart, don’t hate yourself for it; forgive yourself. Yes, it is hard to look at these things but make yourself look because this is the place of change. This is the well of deep healing where Jesus wants to reveal His heart to you. 

Forgive Yourself

Begin by forgiving yourself in every area where you feel ashamed or guilty. As you forgive yourself, all of the areas of distrust can be torn down. You can start to trust Jesus with every part of your heart because your heart is now free from the lies. As you forgive yourself also accept that it is okay if you don’t have the answer to every question. 

Just sit with Jesus and journal with Him. Write down what you feel or sense in your heart. Holy Spirit speaks in many ways. I want to encourage you to write down what you are experiencing with Him. 

Forgive Others

Once you forgive yourself then it’s time to forgive others for the offenses you feel. Take a moment to reflect on each offense and deeply forgive that person for each specific thing that offended and hurt you. As you forgive, hand the person over to Jesus. 

So we can say with great confidence: “I know the Lord is for me and I will never be afraid of what people may do to me!”

Hebrews 13:6, The Passion Translation

Remember that forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation. Forgiveness is releasing that person into the arms of Jesus and ultimately releasing yourself from the pain and torment of the situation. You can read more on forgiveness here.

Take Action on Step Three

Write down each area where you need to forgive yourself then take time to close your eyes and receive that forgiveness from yourself. Let yourself off the hook and hand your heart to Jesus to heal you. 

As things come up that you hate about yourself, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself very specifically for each thing. As you do this self hatred will release and the presence of God will fill your heart. 

Next, write a list of each person you need to forgive and the offense you have against that person. Forgive each person and forgive each offense then picture yourself handing them over to Jesus. 

The lies of performance are rooted in the spirit of pride. Pride says I can do everything myself. The problem is this eliminates Jesus.

Step Four: Take The Wall Down 

We build walls around our hearts to protect ourselves. The protection works for a while but then it hinders. It is a deception. What served you well while you were in emotional pain also holds you back because it isolates you and reinforces the lie that you are unloved and rejected. As you are ready to release the pain, you have to also take down the wall.

When a wall is built around your heart you feel hopeless because Jesus cannot penetrate the wall. But, when the wall comes down everything will change and you will respond differently because Jesus is now with you and He can help you out. 

Because you have accepted your pain, repented for the lies you believed and received forgiveness, forgave yourself and others, you are now ready to take down the wall around your heart. As you do this, you can take refuge in Jesus and let him redeem your soul.

The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Psalm 34:22, The Amplified Bible

Take Action on Step Four

Start journaling and let Jesus show you the wall around your heart. Use your imagination to see the wall then tear it down with a hammer or anything you imagine. Step outside the wall then invite Jesus to be with you. Ask Him what he thinks of your situation. Write down what you experience in your journal.

Now What…

Go out to the unknown area of responding differently to the things that offend you. Look within your heart and ask yourself what is triggering you instead of blaming others. 

The LORD is near to the heartbroken And He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in heart, truly sorry for their sin). Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the LORD rescues him from them all.

Psalm 34:18-19, The Amplified Bible

Keep the process going. Repent, forgive yourself and forgive others as pain arises in your life. Admit your faults to others and apologize to each person you have hurt. Accept that you were wrong and tell them you were wrong. Humble yourself. Repent of pride and ask Jesus to show you the way. He will be faithful to answer. In all of this, ask for new revelation of Jesus’ never ending love.

As Jesus reveals truth to you, a million questions will surface because living like this is all new territory. This is okay. You will have to relearn a lot of things but it’s a good place to be. Let Jesus love on you, teach you, and show you the way.

My Prayer For You

I pray for Jesus to take your hand and walk you through this process of getting set free from the lies of performance. This is the narrow path Jesus speaks of in Matthew 7:13-14. I pray you will heartily examine yourself and your motives in every area of your life. As you do this, I pray that Jesus will open up an entire new world in your heart and in that place you will experience the deep waters with Jesus. May you prosper as your soul prospers (3 John 1:2). 



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One thought on “The Lies of Performance Anxiety And 4 Key Steps To Lead You Out

  1. I constantly appreciate reading your articles. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us.

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