Reframing Your Negative Thoughts About Public Speaking

By Sandy Lawrence on September 14, 2017 in Communication

In my last few posts, we talked about the fear of public speaking, Do You Have a Fear of Public Speaking? and how telling yourself you can’t do something over and over affects your neural pathways and makes the negative things you say seem more real.  You can learn more about this in the post, Starve the Fear of Public Speaking

ReFraming Your Negative Thoughts

Building Your Confidence is Important

Building your confidence is important and comes from breaking through your fear and practicing reframing your thoughts.

It is super important to have identified all those negative excuses and messages you commonly send yourself in social occasions before you can begin to reframe them. If you’ve actually taken the time to write them down, it becomes much easier to recognize and stop them instantly, before they have time to push you down that old, familiar, slippery neural slope.

Write Them Down

Take the time to write them down, it becomes much easier to recognize and stop them instantly, before they have time to push you down that old, familiar, slippery neural slope.

Take a couple of days or weeks to do this. Carry a notebook or notes on your phone and write them down.  Learn to recognize negative self-messages in situations where you are faced with:

  • Speaking to a new person
  • Asking for something in an unfamiliar setting
  • Addressing workplace peers

If You Have A Business

If you run a service business and you have a phobia about public speaking, it’s a pretty sure bet you’re also uncomfortable talking to clients. This leads to:

  • Being overworked – You have trouble saying “no” or your impulse to please leads you to overbook.
  • Being underpaid – You are uncomfortable asking for what you are worth or raising your prices.

Even if you have a great relationship with your clients, confidence issues can still attack you in these areas.

Overcoming a fear of public speaking also involves overcoming a lack of confidence in communication.

A Secret

And here’s another secret:  Once you gain confidence and break bad habits, personal and business success tends to follow with surprising speed.

The key to getting there lies in learning to reframe your negative self-talk – as it happens.

What is Reframing?

Cognitive reframing is replacing negative things you say to yourself with positive statements.

To counteract these unwanted reinforcements, we should:

  • Analyze the negative statement
  • Test it for truth
  • Adjust it to a more realistic statement with a positive focus

Many people forget to test for truth.  Missing that step makes it more difficult to jump for negative statement to possitive affirmation. It leaves out the element of “proof” the mind needs in order to truly believe and accept the new, more positive statement.

Telling someone to “just change the negative statement into a positive affirmation” is like telling someone to “just stop being depressed”. There’s no actual transformation because the positive affirmation you’ve replaced your negative thought with doesn’t feel real.

How to Reframe – Successfully

Once you’ve identified your own habitual, automatic, negative statements, be sure to follow the three-step process.

  1. Acknowledge the statement

Example: “Whoops, I just said “I’ll never learn to write a newsletter” again.”

  1. Test it to see if your statement is accurate

Example: “That’s `all-or-nothing’ thinking. I haven’t yet learned to create a newsletter – but millions of people learn to send newsletters every day. Chances are that if I just stick with it, I can learn to write a newsletter too.

  1. Change it to a more accurate and realistic version, giving this the most optimistic outlook possible while still maintaining truth

Example: “I can easily learn to write a newsletter.”

Upping the Stakes                                       

You can speed up the process and effectiveness of reframing by realizing that the more specific you are in your new positive affirmation, the more focused you will be in achieving the goal.

For example, add a time frame to your statement. Instead of simply repeating to yourself, several times a day, “I can easily learn to write a newsletter”, try “I can easily learn to write a newsletter in the next three weeks” or “I can easily learn to write a newsletter before September 27th” or “I can easily learn to write a newsletter before my next birthday”.

Say it aloud with a confident, bold tone of voice – and say it often; every time you think of writing your newsletter.

Be Fair To Yourself

Make sure also that any date or time-limit you set feels right.

  • If you set a date that is too soon, you may be falling prey to unrealistic expectations.  You’ll know you are doing this when you catch yourself adding your old negative message onto the end of your statement. (“I told you it never works for me!”)
  • If you set a date that is too far away, there is no urgency – and no reason to get to work and tackle what you want to overcome.  You’ve created built-in procrastination – without having to “avoid” anything.

You’ll know you’re doing this when you catch yourself saying: “Oh, gee. Is it Christmas already? Wow, and I never learned to write the newsletter I thought about back in June.

The Ideal Scenario

If you’re going to use dates and deadlines as a tool to help you overcome your fear of public speaking (or of anything holding you back from even tackling that) lies in picking a date that gives you a definite challenge but isn’t unrealistic.

If you can tie an incentive to your goal, even better!  You need a reward – a pay-off – for meeting your goal. (example “I can easily start swim lessons next week, so I can swim in the ocean on my honeymoon with grace and ease.”)

Reframing your negative thoughts into positive affirmations can make a world of difference as you tackle your public speaking fear.

Perceptive PR

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Sandy LawrenceView all posts by Sandy Lawrence


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