1. Step out from behind the label
Understand that it is not about being nervous but it is about doing nervousness. Saying “I am nervous” makes it seem like it is something that you cannot change, as if it is part of you – but in truth this is just a cop out. Are you nervous all the time, every minute of the day in every situation? No! You have to actually think nervous thoughts, feel nervous feelings and see nervous pictures in your head in order to be nervous. So take responsibility, kick the crutches away and remember that you are not a victim – you are an active participant in running your own mind and you can change your thoughts, your feelings and the pictures in your head so that you are not generating a state of nervousness. It is a choice.
2. You get more of what you focus on
Focus your attention on what you do want to do in any given situation and leave behind thoughts about what you do not want to do. Have a very clear picture in your mind of how you will feel, how you will be thinking, what your body language will be and how you will behave when you are in a situation that matters to you. Direct your energies into thinking about and picturing what you do want to do as that is what you will end up doing.
3. Know how to set your scene
Remember that with what you do in your head you are effectively programming your future behaviour. The most important thing, therefore, is to make sure that you set the scene for success by ensuring that you are thinking and feeling in a useful way. There is no point in hoping to feel relaxed in a situation and yet talking to yourself in ways that will scare the living daylights out of you. Thinking “I’m going to mess up that presentation” or having a picture in your mind’s eye of you stumbling over your words will understandably generate feelings of nervousness. But altering things slightly and saying “I know my subject, I have rehearsed and prepared, I can also bring Sarah in if some questions need her input” will generate a more relaxed feeling, which will help rather than hinder you. If you find yourself feeling unhappy or uncomfortable in a situation, just do a quick check and ask yourself - “am I thinking usefully here? Will this get me where I want to go?” Are you talking yourself out of things instead of talking yourself into them? Think about it.
4. Stop waiting for the feeling – just do it!
Often, people hold back from doing something because they are waiting for a bolt of lightning, a warm fuzzy good feeling that tells them it is ok to go on ahead and do something. However, sometimes it is important to stop hanging around waiting for the feeling; it is important to be able to separate the two and sometimes ‘just do it’ – as Nike says. If you find yourself uncomfortable and feeling like you cannot happily manage a presentation for example, set aside that discomfort (which is, after all, only a feeling) and go do it regardless. Saying “I can’t talk in front of people” is actually untrue, you can – though you may not feel comfortable doing it. But so what? Do the action first, and the feeling will follow – the comfort will grow the more you do it.
“Make sure your own worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears” ~ Laird Hamilton