Give yourself credit for all the things you haven’t avoided and for what you have volunteered to do outside of your comfort zone. Big and small! Or sought help (self-help, therapy, anything) to overcome this fear.
This very first step is the most crucial as well as the most overlooked!
Do you give yourself credit for simply saying yes to something you would have avoided in the past?
I hosted a follow up call for Getting Over Stage Fright workshop group members and heard amazing progress– such as volunteering to speak in front of an auditorium size audience, giving impromptu talks/training and presentations in new environments.
Instead of realizing what major accomplishments these are, they were preoccupied with thoughts like: “I shouldn’t have felt that nervous at that point in my presentation”, “I was probably rambling and incoherent”, etc.
I asked them to think back to before the workshop; would they have ever imagined saying yes to these once greatly feared situations? Plus, following through and doing so well!
By the end of the call, I requested they stop minimizing their accomplishments and start celebrating them more! The member who gave the auditorium size speech hadn’t even thought to celebrate, never mind to give herself credit for volunteering to face her fear head on.
What’s going on here?
Psychologists define “cognitive distortions” as a collection of negative thought patterns that can often become habitual beliefs. These self-defeating thoughts drive our perspective through common distortions such all-or-nothing thinking (seeing things as good or bad, with no in-between). Cognitive distortions are at the core of cognitive-behavioral therapy, used to form healthier thought patterns, which results in a dramatic decrease of anxiety over time.
Use the word “and,” instead of “or” for all-or-nothing thinking.
Instead of “I’m a total failure; my speaking or performing anxiety ruins my life,” consider, “I’m still anxious and I am able to work on my fears steadily. I no longer avoid introductions in meetings. I say yes to small speaking roles, and am feeling less anxiety over time.
It’s the small steps that matter most, it’s how your journey begins. It’s saying “Yes”, I’ll attend that Toastmasters meeting to see what it’s all about and I won’t put any pressure on myself but to observe.
Want some hierarchies to work with? Email me!