How to Not Be Nervous
And that is how to not be nervous in social situations. Speaking to new people. Speaking in public. Going somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. Doing something you wouldn’t normally do. Basically breaking your comfort zone.
Having a fear of public speaking isn’t anything to be ashamed about, in fact it’s probably one of the most common fears out there and certainly an understandable reason to feel nervous. Most of the subjects we teach revolve around overcoming shyness and improving social and communication skills. While normally we’re talking about smaller settings of one on one or small groups the same kind of principles can apply to larger groups and public speaking.
Now I won’t pretend to be an authority on public speaking tips. You won’t find me writing speeches or on the podium for world events but I understand the logic behind feeling nervous and how you can beat it.
First up the most important question.
Why Do You Feel Nervous?
This one actually has a pretty easy answer: it’s a defensive response.
Feeling shy, nervous or being afraid is a defensive response of your brain warning you something is wrong. That there is a threat in the area and you should avoid it. It’s a survival instinct.
Now we might be used to modern day life with gadgets, cars and the pretty reliable belief that standing in front of people giving a speech (or just talking to people) isn’t going to result in death, dismemberment or any sort of threat really. But try telling that to the lower levels of your brain which is calling the shots here.
It doesn’t understand logic. It doesn’t understand reason. It doesn’t understand that the people you’re talking to are no threat to you (and statistically they are probably feeling shy as well). At some point, you’ve learned to be shy and/or nervous in this situation. Now I’ve already gone into this before when I looked at why are people shy so I won’t go any further into that but it’s basically what we call a social totem pole.
When you subconsciously register someone is ‘more worthwhile’ than you you’re going to feel shy or nervous around them. This could be an individual person in a social setting or a crowd of thousands of people in an audience. Even when logically you know there is no reason for this to be true that lower level is still registering a threat.
So you feel nervous.
How to Stop Being NervousNow really to fix this what you want to do is give the lower level of your brain a “mental reboot”. You can’t reason with it with logic but you can retrain it to stop perceiving social threats which is a habit you’ve picked up at some point (usually in earlier years but some people develop shyness later. It’s something you can be born with a disposition towards but it’s down to socially learned behavior at one point). There’s no magic sentence I can write which will automatically fix everything for you. It takes concentrated and consistent effort which is why we run the shyness training course in the first place.
The usual information is to chant “you’re a special snowflake” or something at yourself. If I tell you that you’re going to go away, chant to yourself and tell yourself that you feel better. You’ll get the warm fuzzies for a while but the reality is nothing will actually change.
I don’t like that.
I’m more a fan of learning how to not be nervous around people permanently. I’m a fan of learning to crush your shyness and not having the same problem week after week. It’s why we run a course on beating shyness which can actually make a difference. Though if you want to dance around chanting your affirmations you could at least upload it to YouTube so we can all get a laugh.