What is that feeling in the pit of my stomach? Why do my hands shake a bit and my knees feel unsteady? Why can’t I remember what I want to say?
For me, this is the manifestation of fear … I’m working through it and making progress. There are some tricks I’ve learned through my research that I thought might help others who experience the same thing. It doesn’t much matter, apparently, what may cause the fear – public speaking, networking, meeting new people at a cocktail party, taking an exam, competing in an event – but, when those symptoms present themselves, I just want to high-tail it out of there!
So the first trick is to reframe the fear. Think about it in terms other than fear. The one I’m working with is “excitement.” I’m trying to think of that feeling I get before I speak in front of a group as excitement to share my message with people I know will want to hear it. I am developing a pre-stage routine to use the nervous energy to get excited before I head to the front of the room, and to think positively that this audience is going to be the best audience ever. It’s easier for me to demonstrate excitement in my voice and body language and have the words flow trippingly off my tongue once I’ve created my own excitement – instead of letting the fear take me down a rat hole.
The second trick I learned is to truthfully answer these two questions: “What if I knew I could not fail? What would I do then?” As I was pondering these questions for myself, another one came to mind: “What if no one would judge me?” Everyone is afraid at one time or another of failing and/or being judged as not good enough or not smart enough or not agile enough or not pretty enough, or, or, or … so, what if we knew we couldn’t fail, what would we do? Would that feeling in the pit of my stomach go away? Would my voice stay strong as I spoke in front of a group? Imagine that it will.
Which leads me to the third tip: creating a compelling vision. This is something that sports coaches have taught athletes to do for years … imagine striking that golf ball with a perfect swing and it rolls gently over the edge of the cup for an eagle; imagine the baseball hitting the sweet spot of the bat and flying over the wall as you run the bases and your fans chant your name cause you won the pennant; imagine throwing that great spiral pass and your receiver being in just the right place to catch it for a touchdown to win the game by one. These are great visions of reaching a goal. So, why can’t this same technique work when we’re walking into a room filled with strangers? Or competing at a dance recital? Or taking the bar exam? It can. We just need to imagine the outcome we want and position ourselves to make it happen.
Calming the nerves (reframing the fear), clearing the head (believing that failure is not an option) and breathing deeply (as you imagine your success) are great ways to face your fear head on. These tips do take some practice but, I’m here to tell you, they are working for me.
Make this your day … Explore ~ Dream ~ Discover
Chief Inspiration Officer | SafeHarbor Coaching | For women facing life’s transitions
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