The Power of Affirmations
The fear of public speaking is a real and prevalent feeling. It’s not the fear of speaking; we speak throughout each day. It’s the fear of being judged as we stand in front of a group of people, whether the group is small or large. Why is that? Do you really believe that people are taking their time, and sometimes spending their money, to come to judge you? No, they are investing time and money to learn something, or to be entertained, or to be inspired. Did you ever consider it’s not them you have to worry about—it’s you? We fear being judged because we are constantly judging ourselves and we convince ourselves that those negative messages we hear repeatedly are believed by everyone. They aren’t. It’s our self-talk that is keeping us paralyzed and holding us back from being our highest selves.
That’s not enjoyable to accept, but it’s good news when you think about it. If the problem is us, we can fix it! We can’t control others, but we can definitely control our own behavior.
In my classes, I hear a lot of the negative messages holding the students back from writing and delivering the fabulous speeches they have within them. “I didn’t have time to prepare,” or “I have something but it’s not compelling; it’s boring,” or, “I have to read it; there’s no way I can remember it all,” or, my least favorite, “I can’t prepare—I have to just speak from the heart.” When I hear that last one, I hear, “I’m going to ramble from the heart!”
My suggestion always is to prepare from the heart! We sabotage ourselves by not preparing properly so those negative messages we’re feeding ourselves can be validated. I’m stupid; I don’t deserve to be up here; they’re going to hate me; I’m not prepared and they’ll know it; I’m an imposter; I’m going to forget what I want to say; they’ll be bored; they are going to judge me, they are going to judge me, they are going to judge me.
When those same students agree to begin replacing their negative self-talk with positive messages, everything changes. Just being aware of it and being open to being kinder to themselves has a beneficial impact. If you talk to anyone who has accomplished high goals—champion athletes, for example—you’ll learn they use affirmations.
Muhammad Ali famously declared, “I am the greatest!” He explained, “I said I was the greatest before I knew I was. It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” So, if you don’t believe me, believe The GOAT!
Louise Hay is a fabulous source for affirmations. She believes in mirror work, too, where you look into a mirror as you affirm positive statements about yourself. She shared that every time she caught her reflection in a mirror or a window, she would smile and declare, “Hello, gorgeous!”
Take five minutes and make a list of the negative messages you beat yourself up with most often. Is it about your weight? Your facial features? Your intelligence? Your choices? Does it sound like, “I’m so lazy,” or “I’m never going to reach that goal,” or “I don’t deserve to be happy (or rich, or loved).” What toxic tales are you telling yourself? Now, make another list with messages that would better serve you, like, “I’m full of positive energy,” or “I reach the goals I lovingly set for myself,” or, “I deserve happiness, abundance and love!” It won’t happen overnight, but I promise you, if you’ll play this game it will work for you. Every time you hear yourself saying something that you would never say to another person, stop. Now, add a positive statement to balance that out and soon the positives will be replacing the old negatives.
Do you want to conquer your fear of public speaking, or anything that puts you in the public eye? Take a deep breath and say, “I am not being judged because I no longer judge myself!”
Now, look in the mirror with a big smile and greet yourself with a heart-felt, “Hello, gorgeous!”
President, The Zen Speaker