As Hamlet said to Horatio, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
A lot of people are afraid of things like public speaking, speaking out or networking for example. They are afraid because of something called “Negative cognitive bias”.
Negative cognitive bias refers to the tendency to focus on negative or dangerous outcomes rather than rewarding ones. If you are biased toward negative outcomes, if you are looking for them, they will become true.
Most people that are afraid will recognise that they tend to talk negatively about whatever they are afraid of, even if they’re not actively involved in them. The words “public speaking” alone can make some people feel negative.
Do you recognise sentences like “I know I will fail” or “I will forget what I have to say when I’m on stage”? You are not alone.
Developing a positive mindset
To change this, you need to develop a positive mindset. That is easier said than done, but it is doable!
You can do this by reorganising the negative thinking. This is called cognitive restructuring. It means going from a negative reaction to a positive mindset.
Here’s how it works:
1. The negative talk
Create three columns on a piece of paper. In the first column, write down a list of examples of negative self-talk that you use. You could write down sentences like “I’m not a good public speaker” or “I am bad at networking” for example.
2. The positive statement
The next step involves the second column on the page. Next to your negative self-talk, write down a positive statement that can help you. For example “I can learn to speak” or “there are people that can help me with this” next to the negative sentences above.
3. Turn it around
In the third column you complete the list where you turn around all the statements. “This is a make-or-break-situation,” becomes “If it doesn’t go great, it’s only one speech” and so on.
Look at the list and you will feel better already. And keep looking at this list until you feel more confident!
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