According to PositivePsychology.com, self-talk is “the internal narrative you hold about yourself” or “your own personal inner voice.”
The way that we see ourselves influences how we respond to and relate to the environment around us. If you think negatively of yourself, you will see the world in a negative way. If you think of yourself in a positive way, you will see the world in a positive way. Your thoughts reflect the reality that you will experience.
When I was very young, I developed a fear of public speaking. Most of the time, I found ways to avoid all assignments involving public speaking. If it was a presentation at church, I found a way to avoid it. I was also pretty strong-willed so someone’s encouragement didn’t really help me.
I was convinced that public speaking was something to be feared. I went to college, graduated school, and was even in the workforce. Yet, I still had this HORRIBLE fear of public speaking.
Fast forward, I learned about group therapy. I wanted to be able to facilitate groups. However, I knew that I would not be able to do this as long as I continued to fear public speaking.
I had to learn how to feel comfortable with public speaking so that I could overcome this fear. I took a public speaking course called Toastmasters. While in this course, I was able to practice speaking in front of others. This course helped me to build my confidence in speaking.
But to succeed at public speaking, I had to retrain my inner voice. Instead of telling myself that people thought I was not smart, I had to tell myself “they want to hear what I have to say.” When I was able to focus on the value of my message, I was then able to deliver my message.
Some of the steps that I practiced to overcome public speaking included:
- Putting myself in an environment where I could grow. In order for me to stop being fearful of public speaking, I had to place myself in an environment where I could learn and grow.
- I had to affirm myself. One thing that I learned and still enjoy telling myself when I am facilitating a speech is, “they want to hear what I have to say.” And, sometimes I tell myself “people need to hear what I have to say.” I had to remind myself of the value of the message that I shared with others.
- Remind myself of my successful attempts. I had to keep track of the times that I did a good job at public speaking. If someone gave me a compliment, I cherished it in my heart.
- Focus on the positives. When I did a good job at a speech, celebrate it! I have to remind myself that not every experience will be perfect but choose to celebrate what goes well.
- Keep trying. Changing your inner voice is not a one-time thing. It requires a lot of effort and attempts. But consistent effort makes the difference.
Now, I would be LYING if I said that I have not been afraid of public speaking since then. I still have moments in which I am still uncomfortable with public speaking but the fear does not consume me as much as it use to.