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Posts Tagged ‘nervousness

Nervousness, fear and discomfort typically arise because we’re afraid of being judged. Rejected. Turned away. Maybe even lynched. (Well, it’s unlikely, but it sometimes feels like it could happen, doesn’t it?)

In fact, this is a fundamental misunderstanding, which most of us have, about what people actually are seeking. Whether you’re talking with someone individually or speaking to an audience of 10,000, everyone wants to be inspired, energized, and moved. In other words, everyone wants you to be great!

And, in my experience, even those who are critical or jaded are actually hoping you’ll save the day. At a job interview where they’re asking hard questions? They want to hire someone. They’d love to save more of their time by that wonderful person being you!

Action: Instead of waiting for someone else to take the first step, wherever you are, go first and speak with positive, bright energy. They’ll be thankful, and look to you for inspiration. …What’s could be more powerful than that?

At its very core, why do you get nervous or fearful?

Because you care. Because something is important to you.

If you were apathetic to an issue or situation, you wouldn’t be nervous at all. But apathy is not exactly a desired experience, is it?

Wherever it may happen, and for whatever reason it rears its head, getting nervous means that you desire to live fully, and to be the best version of yourself. Yes, it’s good: it means you’re invested in life.

The dark side of this investment, which creates fear and nervousness, is perfectionism – the imaginary idea that it’s somehow possible to be “perfect.” This myth, aided by Hollywood movies and TV “reality” shows that purport to portray people’s actual lives, provides standards that no real person can match.

Action: Instead of fixating on imaginary perfection that doesn’t exist, and makes you uncomfortable and nervous, simply take action and try something new. Embrace mistakes, and learn from them.

One problem with fear and nervousness is that we can become afraid of it. “OMG! I’m so nervous! My heart is beating fast, my palms are sweaty, my face is flushing… everyone will see!!”

We become our own worst enemy when we just want it to leave. In fact, the positive side of nervousness is that, in essence, it’s just energy. That’s good! What would happen if you didn’t have energy? Well…

Some years ago I was acting in a show, and it was opening night, right before the show was about to begin. My fellow actors and I were waiting for the curtain to rise on this exciting project, working with a very famous director and creator of innovative performance. Most of us were pensively waiting, but one actor – who had spent years in a famous theater company in New York and had been acting 12 years longer than myself – well, he yawned. The rest of us who were a bit nervous looked at him incredulously. “I just can’t get that excited anymore,” he declared. “I just don’t get nervous.” …Isn’t that sad?

But the point is, nervousness is in fact the same energy as excitement! Once you reframe it as such, you can appreciate having it.

In part 4: the connection between nervousness and investment in life.

So, if you feel nervous, or even subtle discomfort, what is actually happening in your body? What’s the relationship between nervousness and… the nervous system?

Through my training in Body-Mind Centering(TM) and Experiential Anatomy, I learned that everyone has a dominant system they inhabit. Someone who “efforts” really hard through everything, for example, may be in the muscular system. A deeply thoughtful and process-oriented individual may reside more in the organs. And, someone who is nervous – possibly a bit skittish or reactive – may have a very active nervous system.

This can be mitigated, though, by consciously tapping into another system. For example, deep diaphragmatic breathing (which I teach in coaching and workshops), and feeling gravity and the weight of the body, can shift the nerves over to the organs (deep breathing actually massages the organs), which is much calmer.

Action: If you’re feeling nervous, try sitting or standing with barely enough effort to hold yourself upright, while staying loose – and also breathe deeply. If you’re in public, do a very small version of this – but  try it at home first, so you know what it feels like.

(And if this is too hard to grasp, just ask me – I can coach you with it in person or over Skype.)

In part 3: turning nervousness into positive energy

So many of my coaching clients (public speaking, acting, and “everyday performance”) come to me with fear, nervousness, or discomfort. Sometimes this is specific to performing, speaking in front of others, or in business (like pitching their services to a potential client). Often, though, it ricochets through various areas of life, including relationships or when meeting new people.

A question I’m asked almost every day: something to the extent of, “Am I hopeless? Am I stuck with this?” No – of course not. I teach practical exercises to transform nervousness into relaxed power.

However, the transformative journey always begins with reframing what nervousness is. This series examines some common misunderstandings, to help you know the truth about why nervousness and fear aren’t needed, and how you can change them into something positive.

In part 2: the biological roots of nervousness


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