There are many situations in your life where you’re not always able to express your full potential. No matter how hard you try, how much willpower or positive thinking you may exercise, in reality you are not satisfied with your performance because you find yourself avoiding challenging moments or presentations where the spotlight is on you.
By avoiding these opportunities you are collecting missed challenges, and you are likely to feel a little down and tired of not finding your voice, frustrated that you are not conquering your space, your place in the sun.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- If I have a presentation to give at the company, do I sleep poorly the night before?
- When there is a group of people talking about a subject, do I feel uncomfortable expressing my opinion?
- Do I think several times about the consequences of saying something that does not meet the expectations of others?
- In a professional situation where I am speaking to several people, is there tension in my voice, in my shoulders and do I feel uncomfortable? Do I say to myself how stupid you are?
- Do I recognize difficulty in being observed by many people and feel more comfortable in one-to-one conversations?
- Have I missed opportunities in my life or business by not expressing myself or avoiding a place of leadership because I feel fearful of exposure to others?
If you answered yes, to some of the above questions, you are the one I am reaching out to in this article.
At a glance, we glimpse a moment of triumph worthy of the most touching scene in the most beautiful of all movies.
Lights coming on, we enter the scene. We feel a fantastic energy in our body, we trust in what we are going to say and in our ability to dazzle others, an epic song is playing in our head and all eyes in the room are on us. “You can do it, this moment is yours, you deserve it!” Wide smile. Conquest. Projected voice. “Good morning everyone!”
There you go. And then you realize that this whole speaking to an audience thing isn’t quite like the movies. Maybe it started many years ago, avoiding major confrontations with your most limiting beliefs, and has been slipping through the raindrops as the years go by.
Yep, limiting beliefs. The beliefs that limit your performance.
As I told you, somewhere along your life you learned something about yourself and others associated with times when you had to speak in public. And, in order to avoid (or not feel comfortable speaking) you have necessarily reinforced these beliefs without realizing it.
Now, what are these beliefs, and what is their impact?
A client a short time ago, identified a pattern of events from her childhood that had helped to form and maintain a core belief “I’m not good enough”. This is very important for you to know – unless there has been something really traumatic in your life it is usually the summation of a set of family, school friend situations that lead to the development of a limiting belief.
So in the client’s case she actually had a father who was always telling her what was right or wrong and what she should or should not do. He was quite critical and did not reward her affectionately. In essence, what she did was never enough for him. It is only natural that this client, or any other child growing up in this context, would come to believe “I’m not good enough”. Basically, our beliefs have their basis since they are always the best explanations that we can give ourselves as situations are happening to us, and we are shaping our view of ourselves and the world.
So, whenever she was confronted with situations in which she had to speak in public it was as if she was whispered to: “This is not going to go well” “What if you choke?” “What if they notice you’re anxious, and they’ll think you haven’t mastered it?” – You can see that these automatic negative thoughts that arise from the limiting belief “You’re not good enough” have the power to make our stomachs tighten, make us blush or shake, sweat… all signs that we are not comfortable and that our performance is going to be catastrophic and that everyone will notice. And as she continued to feel this way, my client started turning down presentations and avoiding exposing herself again, even though rationally she knew people liked what she presented.
The avoidance of the situation alleviates the discomfort in the short term, of course. How nice, the lightness of not having to present anything. But on the other hand, our bodies learn just that. “Being there, talking to those people is not good, it’s dangerous.”
And the next few times she imagined herself speaking in public, her heart would speed up, her breathing would become more uncontrolled and worry would come in tight circles.
In short, if you don’t learn to overcome your fears or seek help from a professional, you will remain stuck in the same situation, get worse even and lose opportunities to grow and be successful.