“I need some drugs!” I nervously told my Doctor, “strong drugs for anxiety!” “For what?” she curiously replied, “I was chosen to be the commencement speaker and represent the Master’s in Clinical Psychology class. That means I will be speaking in front of thousands! HELP ME!” “Sure. I will prescribe something for you.”
The day came and I was skipping along, totally relaxed and laughing “aren’t you super nervous?” my classmates asked, “nope. I’m on drugs!” I happily replied. They gave me a disturbed look and walked away.
When I walked on stage, I delivered an impeccable speech (if I may say so myself) and when I got off stage several people walked up to me, embraced me, and told me they were deeply inspired. Little did I know that was the seed that was planted for a future of inspirational speaking.
Since then, I have spoken in front of thousands, minus the drugs. Today, I am against medication and prefer a holistic approach. The times I spoke after that I wanted to make sure I could do it without medication and yet I was very fearful. After all, did you know the #1 fear in America is public speaking followed by the #2 fear which is death. That means that more people would rather be in the coffin that giving the eulogy. No joke. But I kept at it, and even though I was super nervous I just forced myself to do it and eventually, I became less and less fearful. Today, I can speak in front of a large crowd with no issues (and again, no drugs).
Have you ever noticed just how much our life is ruled by fear? I have and it’s not cute. We are really good at asking “what if?” and creating a billion scenarios of all the things that could go wrong. Hence, we stay in our comfort zone and do not move forward because we are fearful of what “might happen”. Sounds pretty silly, right? In her amazing book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, Susan Jeffers says that “it is reported that 90% of what we worry about never happens. That means that our negative worries have less than a 10% chance of being correct. If this is so, isn’t being positive more realistic than being negative?” Jeffers continues by saying that when she teaches the importance of being positive, most of her students tell her that it is not realistic to be positive. Then Jeffers asks a powerful question “what makes negative thinking more realistic?” Sure enough, they do not have an answer.
Truth be told, our mind is there to protect us. It finds a billion different “scary” outcomes because it thinks it’s helping us. Once you hear all the negative chatter in your mind, the best way to handle it is by talking to your head (make sure you don’t do this out loud unless you want people to think you have lost it) and say, “thank you, but I got this!” My mentor Alan Cohen says, “Do you know what FEAR is the acronym for? False Evidence Appearing to be Real”.
I wish I could tell you there is a way to magically make fear disappear, but there isn’t. As long as there is growth, there will be some level of fear. If there is no fear in your life, that means you are stagnant and not growing. The good news is that the best way to ease fear is by simply “feeling the fear, and doing it anyway!” like Jeffers suggests. You will see how what you were afraid “might happen” will actually not happen and you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner, whether it was to start your own business, start a certain relationship, or leave that job you dread.
But what if you truly don’t succeed? Anthony Robbins tells us, “there is no such thing as failure, only results” which means that you take the results, study them, and learn what to NOT do next time. The great Michael Jordan puts it a different way, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Jordan goes on to say, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
So go ahead, what are you waiting for?
Sending you lots of love and positive energy,
Connie Costa is a Writer, Inspirational Speaker & Life-Coach
She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy