Friday, March 4, 2016

Helpful Hint: Get YOUR Story Straight!

Helpful Hint: Get YOUR Story Straight!

Speaking in public can be a little nerve wrecking, right? Sometimes I feel no fear or anxiety until just before it is time to talk, and then the jitters start.  Or sometimes I am nervous for days in advance and freak myself out on a regular and ongoing basis.  But either way, every emotion starts with a thought. Or a bunch of thoughts. I call them, “The Story I Tell Me, Before the Story I Tell You!”

We all have these stories. And it’s these stories that give birth to our fears, doubts and anxieties. Sometimes these thoughts are obvious to us. Sometimes they are undetectably booking around our minds like stealthy gremlins. But by identifying - and questioning - our “Story before the Story”, we can stop our Mind Gremlins from running the show and making our life a living hell.

So how do you find out YOUR Story before the Story? And how can you stop those Gremlins from wreaking havoc and stealing your joy?

1. Get those little devils down on paper.  

What are you thinking, feeling and believing about your upcoming speech?  Write it down on paper or type it up. This powerful step stabilizes and stops the mind right in its tracks. When you tell yourself your scary story on paper, those gremlins racing around in your mind come screeching to a halt and stop pro-creating into little gnarly baby gremlins.

And sometimes just doing this alone can calm the mental cray cray. You may choose to do “stream of consciousness” journaling and just let her rip.  But remember, even if only a tiny fraction of you believes a particular thought, WRITE IT DOWN ANYWAY! Don’t be spiritual or wise – don’t edit.
We are looking for gremlins here and it can get ugly! It is sometimes just those little marginally believed thoughts that we think we have “evolved” past believing that can trip us up the most. And
besides, no one needs to see this thing! You don’t need to post this on Facebook! Use short, simple sentences.

It might sound something like this:

"I have to give this speech next week, and I am SO scared. I just know I am going to blow it and no one is going to laugh or get it. I am afraid I will be humiliated! I am so not prepared and I always wait til the last minute. This is gonna suck. I want to cancel. I want to tell them my car broke down. I cannot put myself through this again. I just have too much stress in my life.”

Or you can start off with something like: “I am feeling (Concerned, Afraid, Anxious) about my upcoming speech because…”, and then make a simple list of your thoughts. Here are some of my frequent visitors.

"I am anxious about this speech because:

I am not prepared. I am going forget everything. People won’t like me. If I don’t worry about this, I will screw it up. I need to do this right."

2. Question those thoughts!

Circle a few that give you that really pukey feeling. Then ask yourself, “Is it true?”  Are these thoughts really true? Can I REALLY know this is true?

As Byron Katie discusses in her masterpiece book on questioning stressful thoughts called, "Loving What is," this is a question to sit in as a meditation, allowing the answer to rise to meet you. You might be surprised at what you find. Isolate one thought and question it like this:

Thought: I want to tell them my Car Broke Down. Is that true? (Wait - don't rush) Yeah it feels true. But is that really true, is that really what I want? No. I love doing this. It isn’t true at all. And I don't want to tell them an untruth. I love them!

Thought: I cannot put myself through this again? Lisa is that true???? No I can. I Can. Of course I can! The Gremlins are lying - I CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

3. Find Evidence for the Opposites.

Gnarly Gremlins are notorious liars. And when we believe them, it affects our vision; we can only see the evidence that backs up their tall tales and we miss the rest of reality! So bust them out and gather evidence for the opposite of your thought or belief.

For example, if you believe, “I will screw this up”, find at least 3 concrete examples of where the opposite could be as true or truer!

“I will not screw this up.”
Evidence: I am well prepared. I have done okay in the past. Just doing it at all is a win so I can’t screw it up anyway!

SO SIMPLE! But so powerful. And now that you have your “story about your story” stopped dead in its neural tracks and stabilized on paper -  now that you have had a moment to question the insane Tom-Fibbery of your Gremlins - ask yourself this final, critical question:

4. “What is the WORST that could happen?”

and write the answer down. You may be surprised. It will likely be a lot less scary than your gremliny mind would tell you.

Now go give your talk, or speech, or presentation - and plan on killing it!
Because YOU are Gremlin Slayer.
And a total ROCK STAR!


  1. This is great, Lisa! Excellent use of The Work.

    Do you have tips on how to become a paid public speaker?