Wouldn’t it be great if you knew how to stop being nervous? You walk into a meeting and pitch your business to a potential client with ease. You step on stage in front of a packed audience without breaking a sweat. You are a fearless machine crushing it at life!
Sounds fun, right? It is! There’s just one problem.
If you want those things, you can’t stop being nervous.
- Being nervous comes with all great accomplishment.
- Being nervous is a sign you are on the right path.
- Being nervous grows you into a better version of yourself.
If you want to know how to stop being nervous, you might as well throw away feelings of joy, excitement, and fulfillment.
You’re human and getting nervous is a hardwired response. Trying to stop it is like trying to stop breathing. If you stop breathing you will die. If you stop being nervous, your dream will die. Great entrepreneurs, visionaries, and high-achievers all experience trepidation.
“I came to realize long ago that I can barely sleep the night before presentations; it doesn’t matter how many times I do them.”- Tim Ferris
You must not run from the nervousness, but embrace it. Accept that it’s going to be there. Seth Godin talks about this in his audio book, Leap First. He compares it to a marathon Runner:
“Everyone in the marathon gets tired. They don’t say, I’m going to be able to run without getting tired.”
Anyone striving to be the best version of themselves get nervous. They don’t say, “I can accomplish my goals without getting nervous.” You can’t run from worry like the runner can’t escape being tired.
Both are expected. Now, what do you do? Now it’s time to manage the being nervous. Or better yet, TRANSFORM IT.
See nervousness for the sign that it is. Seth goes on to call nervousness, “tension.” He explains we want to feel that tension because it’s a sign we are doing something that might NOT work. This is how we do work that matters.
Don’t stop feeling nervous. Instead, feel it and say:
“This is good; this means I made a decision, this means I took a chance, this means I’m pushing forward.”
So how can you begin to re-wire your brain to say “Nervous = Good”? Here are a few steps.
1. Define what’s on the other side of nervousness.
Driving into a hurricane and stepping on stage for a public speech both trigger the same “fight or flight” response. You get nervous because of the perceived danger – but only one of these presents an actual danger.
On one side of the hurricane is tragedy. On the other side of giving a speech are excitement, growth, fulfillment, and success. Define what’s on the other side of nervousness and you will see when your fear is warranted or a limiting illusion.
2. Accept that you might fail.
“But Lou” you might say, “I understand on the other side of being nervous is success, but there is also failure.”
Transformational Speaker and Comedian Kyle Cease has a sign outside of his workshops that reads, “I hope I screw this up.” He makes the point that when you become okay with failing, it frees you from being nervous. It allows you to be fully present in the moment. It brings your consciousness up to a level where it can make a bigger impact and connection.
Accept that things might not go how you hoped. Failure is nothing but a stepping stone to success. It’s not “bad.” Let the thought of it go and watch your nervousness go with it.
3. Celebrate when you feel nervous.
There’s nothing like a celebration to reinforce to your mind that “this is good.” If you feel nervous the night before a presentation, set aside 15 minutes to celebrate. Call it your “Nervousness Ritual”.
Phone a friend and say, “Hey. I’m scared s***less of making a fool of myself tomorrow. But how amazing is it that I have the chance to?”
Make a journal entry with positivity each time you feel worried. “I’m happy I feel nervous right now because I know I’m pushing myself.” Create a motivating “nervousness playlist” with songs about reaching your goals that make you feel good. Meditate while listening.
Have a special “Nervous Celebration Drink”. I don’t recommend alcohol, but something simple like a special tea or high-quality mineral water. Make it a game to have this drink as much as possible, because it means you’re living on your edge.
Make it fun! Celebrate nervousness in your own way.
4. How to stop being nervous? Laugh!
“You see, with me, when I’m nervous, I smile and laugh”- Paula Radcliffe
Laughter takes a stab at nervousness right in the face. It releases tension and makes you NOT take yourself so seriously. When the uneasy feeling comes, acknowledge it, and then laugh at it. “I am petrified right now, and it’s funny.” Laugh at the thought of failing. Laugh at the possibility of succeeding.
Laugh because it makes you feel good. You perform better when you feel good. You connect with people when you feel good. You get out of your head and into your heart.
5. Be curious instead of nervous.
The true trick on how to stop being nervous, is to transform the meaning you give it.
Mike Rowe, the actor best known for his work on Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, spent time in countless new circumstances, meeting entrepreneurs and learning new skills. He credits his curiosity as the key to succeed in new situations. He says:
“People who are curious, have willingness to fail, and do not care how they’re perceived. It’s very liberating”
When you’re curious about things, you approach them like an eager, young child. You look at new situations with eyes wide open. Tap back into your inner child and choose curiosity over nervousness.
6. Be conscious of your breathing.
When you get worried, your breathing tends to become shallow. A shallow breath increases your heartbeat and adds to your nervousness. Become aware of your breathing in these situations, so you can ease the feeling and release those anxious thoughts.
Next time, before you try something new, find a place where you can close your eyes and focus on long, slow breaths. If you can’t find a quiet place, then just do it wherever you are.
Just by becoming conscious of your breathing, you will find yourself feeling more capable to put yourself out there, and have fun in new situations.
Still interested on how to stop being nervous?
I hope you now can see apprehension for the compass that it is. It’s no longer something to run away from. Continue putting yourself in new situations. Seek to have more experiences that make you nervous.
TRANSFORM what nervousness means and watch your growth and success take flight!