Neutralize negative thoughts.

Facts, situations, and circumstances are neutral. Our thoughts and feelings about them are not.

How you feel about something is only derived from what you think about it. This is why, given the exact same situation, two people will feel completely differently about it.

Some feel outright fear about public speaking. But some relish in the energy and experience of it. Same situation. Different feelings.

The fearful person has a thought that generates their fear – I’m going to do this poorly, I won’t know how to answer questions, everyone will think I’m a fraud – and the other person has a thought that generates their excitement – I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned, I’m interested to experience an improvement since my last presentation, I wonder if anyone will ask an interesting question that I hadn’t though of before that we can work on together. 

Something of particular note: Both people are nervous and anxious. Butterflies in the pit of their stomach before they go on. Both of them might have had poor sleep the night before, but one in dread and the other in anticipation.

Do not expect to have nervous and anxious energy magically dissipate. Instead, you can repurpose it toward a positive outcome, rather than a negative one.

You don’t even have to throw out all the negative thoughts you might have. That might be hard. Instead, you can do one of two things (or both!).

  1. Add a modifier to your negative thought. “I’m going to do this poorly” becomes, “I’m going to do this poorly unless I practice.” And “I won’t know how to answer questions” becomes, “I might not know how to answer some questions I didn’t expect.” And so on. Modifiers like yet, sometimes, at this moment, in the past, unless are also good ones.
  2. Identify as many positive thoughts as negative ones, even if you don’t believe them 100%. This exercise forces you to acknowledge that there is more of a balance that you feel, and it can help jumpstart the process of repurposing the negative thinking toward something more neutral, if not positive.

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