The below post is written by one of my favorite bloggers on the Internet. Nicah and I met online through another blog that we both frequent called The Change Blog. We have supported and helped each other through our individual journies online. I am pleased to finally be able to bring you some of her writing.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Overcoming Fear – Guest Post Nicah Caramba
Imagine standing onstage in front of a huge audience and having hundreds of eyes and ears focused on you.
Your every word, every breath, every expression, watched by those people.
Right before you spoke, negative thoughts suddenly flooded your mind.
You’re starting to get tunnel vision.
“They’re not going to like me. I’m not an expert on this subject. If I act like myself, they’ll find me weird,” you think to yourself.
With your voice trembling, hands shaking, and palms sweating, you delivered your message. You did it anyway.
As you go further with your presentation, you start to get more comfortable.
Soon, you’re using your body for more expressive body language to get your message across.
It’s starting to feel effortless! You then wonder why you ever thought about fearing this in the first place.
I’ve been speaking and performing in front of crowds ever since I was about four years old, and believe me, I still feel fear today no matter how much experience I’ve had, though not as bad as before.
However, I’ve found that we can’t entirely blame ourselves on feeling fear because it’s written in our biological makeup.
When faced with potential danger, we go into fight or flight mode.
It was what kept our ancestors alive in the previous generations.
Without fear, there would be nothing to alert us to possible dangers and we might not even be here because our great time’s infinity grandparents most probably wouldn’t have survived.
But nowadays, most of us don’t need into go into the wilderness to hunt for our food and go to the grocery store instead.
So why do we still feel fear?
That’s because they’re mostly built in our head.
More often than not, I’m part of an audience instead of a speaker.
Most of the time, I’m concerned about myself rather than the person speaking in front of me.
Other audience members would agree too, so what makes me still scared of speaking to people in front?
My own thoughts on overcoming fear.
Fear breeds unproven assumptions, so all I did was think about myself and how everything might affect me.
Living life this way can really drain you because it’s similar to holding yourself a prisoner.
You want to achieve different things but fear always manages to stop you.
After several years of speaking experience, it was only this year that I’ve significantly reduced my fear of speaking.
Whenever I would feel that my anxiety was about to go back while on stage, I use that energy to do even better than I’m currently doing so I could drive the negativity away.
Here are three important points that I learned in my journey of overcoming fear:
- Awareness and Acceptance.
To be able to make changes with anything, we must first identify it and then accept it.
If you keep struggling with the truth, you will never be able to accomplish progress because you’re living in denial. And living in denial is not overcoming fear.
When I decided that I would no longer make fear as an excuse to deliver excellent presentations, I confronted myself with the fact that I still experienced some fear when standing in front of an audience.
Apparently, I had an underlying fear of being rejected and judged by the people I’m facing.
But I thought that no matter what happens, people will always judge other people.
Even the best speakers still get judged. But does it matter to them? Nope.
What matters is that I stay true to myself and focus on the lives I’ll be positively changing after delivering the talk.
Why should I be scared when there’s nothing to hide?
- Knowledge is the Antidote.
Most of the time, we make up the cause of our fears.
To give another example outside of public speaking, would be an irrational fear of mine which is fear of flying.
Quite ironic that I fear flying but love to travel and have been to eleven countries in my twenty-two years of existence.
I rarely sleep on planes because I would want to be awake if anything were to happen (as if I could do anything about it).
I also didn’t like flying at night because I couldn’t see anything outside the window.
Every single time there’s turbulence, I would shake uncontrollably and it gets worse as the plane moves some more.
There was even no reason to be scared because I fly only the world’s safest ranking airlines, plus I’ve never had a bad experience.
It was only a couple of years ago that I had the guts to do some research on what really happens during air travel.
I was surprised to find out that air travel is the safest mode of transportation!
Statistically speaking, it didn’t make sense that I was scared of an airplane but not a car, which has more accidents yearly.
I found out that turbulence was also as normal as having potholes on the road, and it doesn’t necessarily mean imminent danger.
Imagine if I haven’t done my research. I would probably still be shaking in my next travel opportunities.
Today, my fear of flying isn’t completely eliminated, but whenever the plane shakes, I just sleep it off (I can actually sleep better now) and wake up in my destination in no time.
- Just Do It Already.
Nothing beats experience.
It’s one thing to say that you’re going to do something, and another to actually start doing it.
With fear, the only way out is through.
A few months ago, I was asked to do a business pitch in front of hundreds of people.
That was going to be my first time in front of such a huge audience, and they weren’t just any audience.
There were going to be investors, businessmen, and VIP’s.
Gulp. I better not screw this up.
Weeks before the event, I was overthinking and evaluated if I was the right person to speak about pur product and represent the team.
I went with it anyway and found myself still shaking on stage while delivering the business pitch.
But as I went on, I started to feel relaxed and knew that I was meant for this.
The only way out is through.
Another example of overcoming fear outside of public speaking is my fear of rollercoasters.
Yeah, I really don’t prefer when I’m not in control.
A few months ago, we had a family trip to Japan and there was a roller coaster in Universal Studios Japan called Hollywood Dream.
“There’s no way I’ll ride that one,” I said to myself.
But my sisters dragged me to the point that I decided to go.
We were given express passes, though, so we were able to skip the line and everything happened so fast.
To summarize, it was the best ride I’ve ever been on.
I honestly wish I could go back, but we didn’t have any more express passes, and it was almost the theme park’s closing time.
The drive back to our hotel was a very contemplative one about opportunities in life that I let go because of my fear.
To this day, that one roller coaster ride still makes me think about my life choices.
I wonder how many more opportunities like that I’ve passed up and thought about passing up because of my irrational fears.
I’m not saying that you should do whatever you want without thinking about it first.
But sometimes, even after all safety features have been proven and there have been witnesses to back up the claims, we’re still held down by our inner voices. And sometimes blocking out those voices is the path to overcoming fear.
Eventually, it all comes down to one question.
We only have one life. Answer it wisely.
Nicah Caramba is an entrepreneur who is passionate about public speaking and travel. Aside from chasing the next adventure, she is constantly looking for ways to help people communicate their ideas better in her blog todayimchanging.com!
Sign up for her FREE Minimal Fear Course!