By Tuff Harris
What makes you nervous to think about? In other words, what gives you butterflies? For me, it’s public speaking, asking for help or explaining myself in front of people. This process use to torture me! In school, it was the speech I had to give in front of the class. In leadership, it was the talk I was asked to give to some younger students. In relationships, it was the girl that I wanted to ask out. In my job, it was the sermon I had to deliver or the motivational speech I was asked to give. In life, it was the help I needed from someone I had to ask. All of these things had the same dreadful feelings of butterflies in my stomach that made me sick; not to mention the sleepless nights, the outburst of anger from stress and the deep feeling of pain that led to procrastination.
Another example was trying something new, like changing my style of clothing. It went something like this: I would go to the department store to try on a few things and thought, “I look good in this and love this style”. I even managed to talk myself into buying that item even if it was a little bit expensive. I knew it would be worth it because of how good I felt in it. And then the morning came when I tried it on and the butterflies showed up. All those feelings of loving how it looked suddenly left. I’d tell myself, “I can’t wear this, it’s not me, it’s out of character, it will be noticed by everyone that I’m trying to look and feel good. I’ll have to explain myself to people”. So what did I do? I decided I’d only wear it for special occasions, but it never left my closet. Other times I took it right back to the store where I bought it or gave it to someone else who would wear it.
I used to let the butterflies keep me from living. I would talk to the same people, wear the same clothes and rarely accept an invitation to speak in front of people in any way. I would also rarely try anything that would require me to put myself out there, the real me! The fear and dread of “what will they think” kept me from living the life I wanted. The reality is that people don’t really care about these things, at least not these things about you. If you are confident in all these areas people will only love you for them. Ok, maybe some will be jealous and mean but it doesn’t matter. If you are not confident people have this broken tendency to try to help you by pointing it out or making fun of it.
So how do we get confidence? You have to chase the butterflies!
First, recognize that the butterflies are there to serve a purpose. The purpose is not to keep you from danger or pain rather they are there to give you something. When you press into these feelings you will start the ignition to getting the life you want to live. The things that make us most nervous in life have the greatest rewards if you choose to walk in that direction. Whatever is common or easy rarely gives us satisfaction and accomplishment. The payoff is on the other side of the butterflies.
Second, verbalize everything you are feeling, first to yourself and then to a person you trust. If you don’t get the truth of how you feel out it can cause negative symptoms later. Some of these symptoms are anger, denial, procrastination, or creative excuses. We can tap into our creative bank to come up with every excuse as to why we should not follow through on our original agreement to get what we want. By verbalizing our feelings we lower stress and we are able to continue on the path to completion.
Third, visualize the best version of yourself and how you want it to play out. Before a football game I used to visualize how I was going to play the game. Every catch and every tackle was thought through before I stepped onto the field. What really accelerated the result I wanted was to visualize how I was going to respond when it didn’t go the way I wanted. I would visualize what I would do if I dropped the catch or missed the tackle. This helped me respond powerfully by developing my character when things didn’t go my way. Part of the visualization process is verbalizing positive phrases when things are getting stressful. You need to predetermine what phrase will help you through the pain. Referring to the stress I would repeat “You want this!” And when the actual moment came, I would repeat the phrase that I said many times before. Sometimes the phrase can be a single word like “courage” or “power”! Trust me, it works. Its better to visualize and say simple phrases then to get stuck in the alternative (anger, denial, procrastination, etc.).
Lastly, practice! It doesn’t rhyme with visualize or verbalize but it is vital to getting what you actually want. Find every area of your life that you want something different or something more. Change is hard but you want it. We don’t want to get stuck in clothes fashion that has been left behind decades ago. You don’t want to live with regret because you never tried. You don’t want miss out on life because the butterflies kept you from the most exciting, adventurous and best version of yourself.
Make the commitment today to stop talking yourself out of things and start talking yourself into things. When you choose to go places and do things that confront your fears you inspire all the onlookers. Tell the scaredy cat version of you that things are going to change because you are now chasing butterflies and slaying dragons!
-Tuff Harris | Executive Director
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