I have to say I was happy to receive this email: “I won first place in the speech competition!!!” To make it even happier, that was from a person who had had such fear that she felt paralyzed in her tracks with an apprehension that she’d “go blank.” She didn’t believe in herself and had so many stinkin’ thinkin’ thoughts about not being good enough, that she was talking herself out of speaking at all.
But she got it together. We created a plan for her, and she followed it to a “T” – ultimately creating a situation in which she was on the top of the list. She did it in six powerful steps.
1. Look at the Nature of Your Thoughts
What have you been thinking that’s creating this uproar inside? These are the culprits that can undermine your well-being. “I don’t know if I can do this. Maybe I’ll forget everything. Maybe I’ll be judged. Maybe I’m not as good as I need to be.” Just take a look at the thoughts without judging them. You’re just taking inventory here.
2. Dig in Deeply and Find the Origin of the Problem
See if there’s any particular incident that may have given rise to such low self-esteem. Did you fumble at one time? Did people try to undermine you at any time in your life? Have you received criticism that you allowed to erode your self-esteem? Again, no judgment here; just look as objectively as you can from the point of view of the “witness.” You might have the understanding to know that all these incidents are just stories in the mind, and so they can be ultimately transformed.
3. Find a Part of Yourself that’s Already Strong and Capable
More inventory. Take a look at that other part of yourself, the self that is whole and complete, able and competent. Again without judgment, look at experiences you’ve had of successfully fulfilling what you’ve set out to do. You may have received accolades, or you may just know of your competency. Remind yourself of the times when you’ve responded in powerful ways.
4. Create a Special Technique for Yourself as a Reminder of Your Strengths
You can create a self-hypnosis technique that you specially design for your particular situation. It might have you breathe in and out for relaxation. It might contain some numbers for you to count down. It might contain the word “Relax.” The next two ingredients are important. It can have a potent affirmation. “I know this stuff, and I am an excellent speaker.” And it can have you imagining yourself looking, feeling, and doing what you’d like to do and be.
5. Create a New Neural Pathway in Your Brain
Create a “program” in your brain in which your success is guaranteed. This can happen through frequent repetitions of your special affirmations and visualization of your ultimate success. It doesn’t matter if your brain has a neural pathway for the opposite, which created the fear in the first place. This old pathway will dissolve and fall away as you build a new sense of confidence and success.
6. Prepare, Practice, and Present
Of course you have a sense of what you want to communicate when you speak. You also prepare your mind with an understanding that the people watching you are connected with you – not separate from you. Then you practice either in your mind or in your life. And finally, you present your spoken words to people, knowing that you’re coming from your heart and from the most authentic place within you. Know that you have something to communicate that’s uniquely from your own experience and that can make a true contribution to others. And you think about that contribution more than you think about whether or not you feel you’re of any worth. In this way you make your contribution to the world just the way you’ve always dreamed you would.