The time is getting close.
Any minute now, someone will introduce you. You will make your way to the front of the room and speak to a group of people who are anticipating your every word. As you wait for your time to come, your hands start to sweat. Your stomach churns. Your heart pounds fast and hard.
Hey, it’s okay! It’s just your nervous system doing its thing.
I know. You hate those physical sensations of nervousness. You want nothing more than to make them all go away. It’s what you dread the most whenever you speak or perform in public. Those pesky, physical manifestations of nervous energy. If only you could get rid of them.
Listen, the problem is not that your heart is pounding or your stomach is clenching or your knees are knocking. The problem is that you think these physical expressions of energy are a problem. They’re not the problem. They are just energy moving.
The problem is that you resist these sensations of energy. You contract around them, wanting them to go away and leave you alone. You think to yourself, “Oh, no! I don’t want to feel THIS! This feels out of control. I hate it that my heart is pounding. What if everyone sees my whole face trembling? Am I blushing? I’m sure I must be beet red by now…” and on and on.
Now you are not only feeling nervous about your presentation but you’re frightened by what you are feeling inside your own skin.
If only you could have a shot of whiskey, you’re sure you’d feel better. But there is no whiskey and it’s only 9:30 in the morning, so you try breathing deeply in an effort to calm and control these sensations, but this only makes you more nervous and tense. In trying to control these physical symptoms, you’ve only made them more aggressive and persistant.
What to do? How can you allow these sensations to assist you rather than make you feel crazy and out of control?
The first thing is to realize that it’s just energy. It’s just sensation.
Oh, sure, you can call it “nervousness” or “anxiety” or “terror” even, but actually, it’s just energy moving in your body in such a way that you feel physical sensation. Can you let yourself be with these sensations without making them bad or unwanted?
It’s okay that your heart is beating. Hearts do that, hopefully. Let your stomach turn somersaults. It’s not terminal. It’s just energy moving through. Let it move through!
Let’s walk through the following four steps to allowing these physical waves of energy to assist you rather than freak you out.