Your body and mind processed that first flood of anxiety as trauma and has been reacting to it ever since. No matter what the cause or severity of it was, all you can do is recognize why your body and mind react the way they do and move forward to reverse your mindset and physical sensations.
Some people have a gradual onset of social and speaking fear while others have a particularly intense experience of fear and panic that feels very much like a traumatic event. In either case, when somebody is filled with intense fear and panic, and feelings of loss of inner control, the mind processes this as a traumatic experience.
If we continue to live with this fear, we’re bound to feel unfulfilled and unable to follow our dreams. This creates damaging self-limiting beliefs for our future.
If we choose to focus our energy into being proactive and facing our fears, we find that fear loses much of its power. What if you started to define yourself by your future, instead of limiting yourself by your past?
Does any of this sound familiar?
“I’m too anxious to attend the workshop, I’ll be the worst one there.”
“I’ve always had this challenge my entire life. This is just how I am. I’m not the kind of person who can speak or perform in public. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“This is how I’ve always dealt with it and I will continue to avoid it.”
Beating yourself up over your past may seem like deserved punishment that will somehow push you into action. If you’re defining yourself by your past, you’re going to create more of your past. If you repeatedly look at your false negative thoughts and outcomes, the “evidence” will feel very real and prevent you from taking action.
Although we do need to learn from our past and grow from mistakes we’ve made, we must be conscious of our forward future thinking. Instead of being defined by your past experiences, you can take control of who you want to be.
Your thoughts create your reality. They also create your interpretation of what already exists. From the perspective of seeing opportunity instead of fear, you will create a completely different experience of the world, and you will also create much more positive results for yourself.
One of the best ways to build your confidence is to accumulate and overcome challenges. Many people think they’re confident because of their accomplishments, rather, they are confident because of the obstacles they overcame to achieve their goals.
A growth mindset generates self-confidence: knowing that we can figure things out, knowing that we can grow. A fixed mindset sees failing at something as an expression of a character or talent flaw; e.g., the minute a (perhaps perceived) mistake is made, we are not going to have self-confidence to overcome it and will probably give up.
Let’s combine self-confidence and a growth mindset. It comes from thinking, “Of course there’s going to be mistakes. Of course, I’m going to fail at some point. That’s how I grow.” A growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.
People who have self-confidence usually have a future-based mindset. Self-confidence is the ability to know that you can handle any negative emotion and keep going. It’s believing in your ability to do what you are afraid to do.
Self-confidence doesn’t come from simply believing you can speak in front of people. Self-confidence comes from knowing that if you fail (sometimes it’s only your perceived perception of failure) you’re going to be okay. It’s not that big of a deal, you can handle embarrassment, fear, and strong emotions.
That’s where self-confidence comes from. Thinking: “I’m going to go up there and speak in front of people, and I’m self-confident in doing it because no matter what happens, I will have my own back, I will take care of myself.” The more you do that, then the easier it becomes to rely on yourself.
Set realistic expectations. No one is perfect. Public speaking is difficult to master; even seasoned speakers make mistakes. For example, instead of telling yourself that you have to deliver your speech flawlessly, think realistic thoughts like, “If I lose my place, I will calmly scan my notes and then continue my speech” or “Small mistakes aren’t going to ruin my speech.”
What is your belief about your capability? Do you believe you can grow and learn tools to manage your fear of public speaking or performing?
You can begin by attending the Getting Over Stage Fright workshop. There are a couple seats left for the May 4-5th workshop, and 3 more dates scheduled later this year.