Your hands are ice-cold, your hands are shaking, and you stomach is twisted in knots. You’ve got the jitters—and you’re not alone. Everyone has one great fear that can leave them in a cold panic (public speaking heads the list). And the more successful you are, the more nervosu you get. ‘I don’t want to disappoint anyone. Everyone expects me to do incredibly well—there’s no room to fail!’ Here are some life tips for conquering those nerves, or at least keeping them well under control.
Life tip # 1: Acknowledge the feeling
It doesn’t help to deny your nerves or get mad at yourself for not being confident or in control. If you deny what you feel, you can’t prepare for the surge of panic seconds before the dreaded event. If you blame yourself for it, you feed the negative emotion. Screaming at yourself for being scared is about as effective (and healthy) as hitting yourself for being in pain.
Just accept that you’re nervous, as simple as that. ‘I’m uncomfortable with talking in front of a large group.’ Or, ‘Just looking at the empty computer screen gives me writer’s block.’ Saying it aloud lets you get it out into the open—and out of the way. ‘I’m nervous. Now what?’ You can tell yourself to speak more slowly, so there’s less chance of making a mistake during your speech. Or, you can take a deep breath and write the first sentence of your novel…even if you’re afraid.
Life tip # 2: Give yourself permission to make a mistake
If you’re nervous about something, you’re probably expecting yourself to do something perfectly. Your mind is going mad with scenarios of failure: ‘What if I fumble? What if the audience gets bored? What if they think I’m stupid?’ Well, so what if you fumble? And even if you lose the attention of 20 or 30% of your audience, you still make an impact on the other 70%.
Manage your expectations. It’s okay to make mistakes. Nobody is expecting you to give the best speech of the 20th century or to create a bestselling novel without a second, third or fourth draft. And we guarantee that in most cases, you’ll realize that things went pretty okay even if you may see one or two things that you could’ve done better.
Life tip # 3: Stand up for yourself!
But what if you’re feeling nervous for no particular reason at all, or panicking over a relatively small problem?
This could be a sign that your nerves are on overload, probably from extreme stress or all the bottled up emotions. This often happens to people who try to please everyone, and have a hard time expressing anger or saying no. (Afraid of offending people? Read our article on nice ways to say no.)
Life tip # 4: Try a walking meditation
Pacing the halls? That’s okay—but a walking meditation can turn that nervous energy into something calmer and more positive. First focus on your right foot, then pay attention to what you feel as you lift it and then step forward. You’ll notice the way the fabric of your clothes sways against your knee, or the thud of your heel hitting the hardwood floor. Also pay attention to the thoughts and emotions that come at each step. ‘I am worried about people laughing. I am worried about forgetting the speech. I am angry that I agreed to do this in the first place.’ Acknowledge each thought, then let it go. It is literally behind you, left in the shadows of your last step. (If you can’t do walking meditations, try our step-by-step for walking meditations.)
Life tip # 5: Win it one small battle at a time
If you’re afraid of public speaking, then conquer the fear step by step. Try something simple and smaller, like leading the family prayer, then volunteering to read a story book to the kids at the neighborhood daycare, then giving a toast at a wedding. With each victory, your fear becomes smaller and more manageable. ‘I was able to do it before. I can do it again!’ (Read more life tips in our article on secrets of fearless living.)
Photo from isaiah-online-tutor.blogspot.com