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The Battle Of The Voices In My Head

The Battle Of The Voices In My Head
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Like most people, I have goals. Goals that I want and need to achieve. Goals that I strive for every day. Goals that aren’t even dreams anymore, they are now my musts. I no longer find myself just wanting them to happen, I need them to happen, and there really isn’t any other option. They MUST happen.

I set my intentions to what I wanted to achieve. I wanted freedom. Freedom to work when and where I wanted. I wanted to travel and explore more of the world. I wanted financial stability. I was sick of living paycheck to paycheck. I was sick of having to struggle when unexpected expenses arose. I wanted to give back to the world. I felt I had a lot to offer and my talents weren’t being utilized. I wanted to do something that would feel rewarding and that I would be passionate about.

Realization

Last year, I came to a realization that there was more that I needed to achieve in life. I was good at my job, I had a great social life, and I was healthy and alive. However, there was this feeling of emptiness inside of me. Even though I had a stable job, a nice apartment, and great people around me, there was this feeling that something was missing. That something was passion.

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I no longer had the passion to keep being the best at my job. I no longer had the passion to spend most of my time making someone else’s dream a reality. It was hard to get out of bed to do the same thing day in and day out. It was time to change. It was time to figure out what I wanted and to start taking action towards it. Why was I dragging myself to a job that sucked the life out of my soul? Why was I forcing myself out of bed to just pay the bills?

Juggling Responsibilities

It has only been eight months since the day I decided to become a blogger. In that time, I have managed to juggle a full-time job, train for a fitness competition, create a YouTube channel, start my own business, write for some of the world’s largest motivational sites, and somehow maintain a social life. This may not seem like much to some, but for any fellow bloggers, YouTubers, athletes, writers, or entrepreneurs out there, I know they will understand the work that goes on behind closed doors.

Not too long ago, I was in the flow of things. Up at 4 am, kicking goals at the gym, kicking goals with business, and was on top of my writing and doing YouTube. It was like the universe was smiling down at me. Looking back, the reason I was in the flow and doing so well was because I didn’t even allow a negative thought to slip into my mind. My perspective was all about where I was headed and what I was achieving.

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It didn’t matter that I was up at 4 am every morning training for comp. It didn’t matter that I was making business calls for during my lunch breaks at my full-time job. It didn’t matter that I was up late every night writing, making videos, and working on my online business. Things just seemed to flow and I was excited to get out of bed every day. I only had time for positive people in my life. I let go of energy drainers. I looked at the positive side of everything and the universe seemed to be rewarding me for my efforts.

Road Blocks

Then one day, I hit a wall. The flow of positivity stopped and it was like everything I had worked so hard towards all came and smacked me in the face. Everything seemed so hard. Getting up at 4 am was more than difficult, being on top of my game at work and dealing with people were draining, and I started to fall behind in my writing and my business. What had happened? Everything was easy, everything was flowing, why did everything become so difficult to keep up with?

I have had some time to reflect and I have come to realize that the only thing that changed was my mindset and my perspective. I had a friend that was feeling low and, as much as I tried to be there, I just couldn’t do it every day. Not in the way they were wanting me to. I like to think that I am the person that my friends can rely on and at that moment, I started to feel like I didn’t have time for my friends when they needed me. I started to feel like I was failing and not as on top of things as I thought I was. I started to feel drained as I tried to give the little energy I had left to helping others.

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I was exhausted. Emotionally and physically. The 4 am wake up calls started to be something I dreaded, kicking goals at work, and trying to stay sharp when dealing with human interactions just seemed so tough. I didn’t realize just how much energy and time I was putting into chasing my goals. I started to question whether all of the effort I was putting in was even going to be worthwhile. Will I even achieve my goals? And to what expense? If I let my friend down because I couldn’t give the support they were wanting because I was busy chasing goals and working towards my dreams, is that the kind of person I want to be?

Mindset

I turned to one of my favorites, Tony Robbins, and started watching his videos on the daily. I needed a pick-me-up and I knew I needed support and encouragement. I needed to change my mindset. Instead of looking at my desperation of quitting my full-time job, I started to train my mind into looking at it as a blessing and a vehicle that was paying my rent for my gorgeous apartment and a vehicle that was funding me until I could achieve my dreams.

Instead of looking at my early wake up calls as a chore, I started looking at the extra time it gave me to work on my fitness goals. Instead of looking at all the phone calls, online time, writing, producing, and everything else I do to keep up with being a blogger and entrepreneur as extra work, I started to train my mind again to see that I was working towards my goals and the more effort I put in, the more I will get back. The goal will be inevitable as long as I am doing something every day to reach my desires.

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Instead of thinking of how I let my friend down, I started to realize that I had given what I could. I am only human and there is no way I could give any more energy and support to another if I needed that energy and support for myself. We cannot help others if we do not help ourselves first. If we don’t put ourselves first, we simply don’t have much to give someone else. People that really truly care for you will understand this. We all our going through our own journeys and those that are meant to be in your life will want to see you succeed. As long as we are not abandoning our loved ones, as long as we are coming from a place of love, then there really isn’t anything to worry about.

Battle of the Voices

There is a constant battle going on with the voices in my head. Am I good enough? Do I really think I have what it takes to get to where I want to be? And then the other voice argues back that I have been through enough and the things I have been through clearly states just how strong I am. I got this. Will the voice of doubt ever shut up? Most likely not, after all, we are human and the voice of fear and doubt will always be playing in the background.

I’ve just decided it is time to not listen to that voice of doubt and insecurity. Nothing good comes of it. I have come to accept that the voice of fear will always be there. I just choose to ignore it because if I listen to it and I don’t continue to chase my goals, I know that I will regret it for the rest of my life. I would rather do my best trying to achieve my goals and making the most of my time here on earth than to not try and always be left wondering what if.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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