Start off the year with this skill….
We are complex human beings, affected by the emotions of peace, joy, anger, jealousy, anxiety, greed, gluttony, fear, sadness, lust, shock, pride, sloth, grief, etc.
It is these emotions that motivate us into action or slow us in our tracks.
It is these feelings alone that persuades us to do something much more than rational thinking.
It is these feelings that can help you succeed or fail you in your attempts.
It was exactly negative feelings that impeded my progress from a young age. Innately introverted and introspective, I would always stay on the sidelines, observing, wishing, hoping, dreaming….
To become a better student, a successful career lady, a good mother, an efficient wife. It was all about the actions that I needed to take but my overriding emotion was anxiety and fear. In particular, the fear of public speaking. They impeded the growth of my personality.
The fear of speaking up was the bane of my life. I had no clue as to how to make myself heard which was a big stumbling block to personal progress.
Mediocrity was the order of the day. The non-eventful student days went on monotonously for years as I watched how some of my friends were so brave and eloquent and attained their goals.
Naturally, people who made their requests heard, had something to show, got what they want. It was no surprise that I emerged as an also-ran, still wading through the waters of young adult life, muddled and aimless. But, there was always an inner voice sounding me, “You need to come out of your shell and be heard”.
For years on, I searched for ways to learn to speak up and be heard. I dabbled in public speaking courses such as enrolling with the BBC for a hefty fee which was a shocker to me when they taped us speaking. It left me completely non-plussed.
Then, I joined the Dale Carnegie course and was poorer by more than a thousand dollars for ten sessions. However, it was an ice-breaker for me and I improved somewhat. The improvement came after five projects of speaking but I wished that I had more drive for excellence.
Next, I discovered Toastmasters International, a public speaking movement that was started by Mr. Ralph Smedley in the US and had since evolved into innumerable clubs in many countries. My depth of participation fluctuated but after many years, I would like to credit my progress to the program run by the club.
The change is insidious. I do not get stumped by questions these days and am able to give a positive spin to most questions. How did I overcome my anxiety over public speaking? Looking back on the journey, it was obvious. Persist and look for more opportunities to speak. Do your projects seriously.
The starting points were always very painful as they involved hard work, fear of failure, embarrassment even ridicule. The truth is, most people are busy with their own anxieties and insecurities to be bothered by yours. Hence, the anxiety was my own illusion.
Most of us are not born speakers but we can hone ourselves into good speakers. Through learning, training, and practicing. My anxious mindset was my own making.
Over the years, I find that most problems are quite minuscule if we first overcome the fear and worry caused by the problems and instead focus on the solutions. Worry causes you to go around in circles and closes your mind. When you tame the beast that is anxiety, your brain will gravitate towards solutions and a more positive outcome.
The same principle applies to the gamut of emotions listed above. When angry, hold back as nothing good comes out of anger. Anger may lead to an impulse to defend, which may not be the right thing to do if you are wrong. The correct thing is to admit and apologize.
Anger may lead to the impulse to leap at the other party which is equally unwise and have dire consequences.
“In anger, we should refrain from both speech and action” — by Pythagoras. After simmering down, the whole incident may be a non-incident at all. One may even laugh at one’s folly. In any case, disasters are averted.
In any case, one may ask ourselves; What am I feeling? Why? What happened? How did it happen? What could be done about it? What are the possible consequences of an unbridled emotion? Will I regret it later?
The only emotions worth cultivating are joy and peace.