Me, the confidence coach & trainer was tested this week! Believe it or not my confidence needs just as much nurturing as yours, especially when I get into the fear zone!
I showed up late and flustered to a brand new networking event where I absolutely wanted to make a fabulous impression and be on my A game. . . .not a great start is maybe what you are thinking?! So let's reframe that first thought. . . .it's not where you start that matters, it's more about the overall process, and recognising the amazing progress that you are making. That in itself can start to transform your thinking and feelings.
Imagine if you reframe every time things didn't go to plan?
What impact could it have on you and your life?
Well maybe by the end of this blog you may start to see an opening into a new way of thinking.
So I breezed into the event all smiles as the person I am at my core, the person that loves connecting with others. Yet underneath I could feel, bubbling away, a sense of fear.
I didn't know any of these people, I was late, I was an outsider. . . .I was in a fear reaction state. This often happens when we are in survival mode, when we fear rejection at a sub conscious level.
I tried to calm myself with some focused box breathing which was helpful, yet my senses were overwhelmed still. New faces, new energy, new venue, and lots of noise and talking. When this happens our brain will often preserve its energy for survival and then cognitive functions reduce. This was happening to me.
What the hell was I going to say when it came to my turn to do an introduction?!
I was trying to grasp the great learnings I was hearing from the previous introductions yet I was struggling to focus. So when it came to my time it felt a blur and I read my audience as lacking interest in me and what I had to say. When I finished my 2 minutes I felt defeated and my inner critic Beryl was on fire! Beryl is the queen of negative thoughts. Here is some of what she said:
You didn't say your company name until the end.
Where was your memorable personal story?
Where was the clarity in what you said?
All the other ladies sounded so much better than you!
No one is interested in your business.
So yes I might be a coach, I am however still a human with natural instincts.
What I had in my favour was self awareness. I recognised what had happened with my emotions and thoughts. I had dropped into survival mode ( feelings include- fear, anger, sadness,shame,disgust) and now I was at a cross roads. I could leave the event feeling all of the survival emotions or decide to take a different route. I could choose to use the tools and strategies I use daily when I work with clients, and that I know have worked for me in the past on so many occasions.
I HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE. This can be so hard because however awful we feel we are programmed to keep ourselves safe, and safe often means familiar. Yet who wants to keep in the same perpetual cycle of survival mode?? I learnt years ago that I was done with that. I didn't want to stay in that place of feeling crap. It was time to shift my thoughts and emotions. So I took what is initially the harder route, to create change, to face what I was feeling and take small steps forward.
I grounded myself. When we are survival mode our cortisol hormone is flooding our system and we need to calm that down. You need to focus on how you feel physically and take action to stablise your nervous system.
I dropped into box breathing for a few minutes( Count to 4 as you breathe in, Hold for 4, breathe out for 4, count to 4 as you hold your breathe again, and keep going until you start to relax more). I then did my toe check in. I wiggled each one of my toes at a time. This helps you to focus and move away from the rampant emotion of fear.
I ran through my head what had gone well and what I had learned. This quieten down Queen Beryl and balanced out my thoughts so I could position myself toward the positive. Some of what I came up with included:
I had showed up even though I had to walk in late where all eyes were on me.
I had shared information on me and my business.
I had shown genuine interest in others.
I had listened and supported other women as they spoke.
Now I was feeling like this could still potentially be a great event.I was recognising what went well , I was shifting my perspective. I decided to start chatting to different women and weaved in how I work and why I am so passionate about the work I do in helping others. I could feel my emotions changing. I was feeling connected, excited and happy.
By recognising my emotional state, by grounding myself, by moving from NATS ( negative automatic thoughts to positive empowering thoughts) PETS and taking positive actions steps I transformed my experience from a difficult and disappointing start to a promising outcome.
This event was actually fabulous for me on a few levels! Yet again I had the opportunity to build more evidence that I can ride out those survival emotions. They do not own me. I can ground myself and create a confident and beautiful experience even when challenges are throw my way, and I hope you can see that you can do the same too.
I walked away with new connections
I grew my confidence again.
I have once again faced Beryl my inner critic and come back with a positive mindset that change is possible and I am enough.
I have intentionally moved myself out of fear and into joy and excitement.
I FELT GOOD!
The likelihood is that I, nor you, will ever completely lose the inner critic voice because believe it or not the inner critic is actually there trying to keep you safe. Beryl can be so brutal and mean yet all she knows is that I must survive and often that means keeping the same patterns in place because then the outcome is more predictable, even if it is painful and holding me back in life.
Prepare - when you know you may be triggered invest in calming techniiques before an event and focus on all of your amazing strengths.
What you can do is give your inner critic compassion when she/he appears. Say "it's ok", by using grounding techniques and being kind to yourself.
You can bring in positive evidence from the past to question your inner critic.
You can take small steps to prove your inner critic wrong by giving it a shot.
You can take up the motto of progress over perfection.
The outcome of taking these supportive steps is someone who is braver, more self assured, and who has another voice, the amazing cheerleading one inside.
I left the networking event buzzing. I had made some great connections and had fun. It could have been so very different, yet I made A CHOICE, I pivoted and it paid off. You can do the same in any situation when you are in survival emotions and as always if you need a partner to guide you I am right here to support and be on your journey of positive change.