I've Been There.

Your hands are shaking, your voice trembling, your knees are weak. You look up at all these eyes looking straight at you. Say the wrong thing in the wrong way and everyone will laugh at your incompetence, or so you think. Have you ever felt this way? Well, here is what you can do about it.

Feeling a bit Nervous.

Maybe you have a presentation going on. Maybe you have to talk to a group of people, or maybe out of nowhere you just get this feeling of being anxious. And then you look at all these people just not being nervous at all, and you wonder: how are they like this?

Let Me Tell You a Story:

Let's pretend you've never done any real exercise in your life. And you want to run a marathon. What do you think will happen if you try? Exactly you would probably die... Well, maybe not die, but close enough, you would feel like you are dying. Yet there is nothing surprising about this. There is no judgement of what a failure you are. You clearly understand why you get this tired. And you clearly understand what to do to get better, just run.

Now, something interesting happens when you change "running" for doing a presentation in front of 50 people, and getting tired for getting nervous, suddenly we see things differently. It just hits different, there is a judgement from withing yourself for being nervous, that you would not have for being tired.

You do understand that if you want to be able to run for 5 km without getting tired, there is going to be a lot of training to do and a lot of getting tired.

But why would you not think the same with getting nervous? If you want to be able to do a presentation in front of 50 people without getting nervous, well, there is going to be a lot of training to do and a lot of getting nervous.

It's Not The Same

Some people would say. "Well, it is not the same because no one can run without eventually getting tired, but some people will never get nervous". And my answer is:

You are RIGHT, it is not the same, and there are going to be some differences, but to you, it doesn't really matter. My point is not that getting tired because of physical exercise and getting nervous because of social pressure is the same. My point is that the way to improve in both of them are the same, and that is practice. And that you have as much control over getting nervous as much as you have over getting tired. NONE.

You cannot choose not to be nervous the same you cannot choose not to be tired. How could you? So if you cannot control it, why would you judge yourself once it inevitably happens? Would you judge yourself if you get cold when you shower with cold water? Would you judge yourself if it hurts when you get a burn? Would you judge yourself if you get tired after running for hours? Then why would you judge yourself when you get nervous under social pressure?

And before you start thinking that not judging yourself means not improving. Don't, that doesn't need to be the case. If you go running, and you get tired really fast, you might think "well my shape is bad, I should work out more" but you are not going to judge yourself as if you are useless. Or would you fear going to run again because you are going to get... 'tired' again? Yet you might fear doing a presentation again because you might get nervous. All I'm saying is that you should treat both emotions the same.

Just Stop Caring

And no, I don't mean stop caring, so you don't get nervous. I mean, stop caring about BEING nervous.

If you ask for advice about how not to get nervous, you are asking the wrong questions. You should be asking: how do I stop caring about being nervous? Because that is the ultimate goal. If you were to get nervous, but you care as much as getting cold in the winter, you would really stress so much about it.

Enjoy the Rollercoaster

Understand that emotions are just emotions, you didn't choose to get nervous. So you have almost zero control over it. And why would you stress about something that you have no control over? The sensation itself is not that bad. You probably even like it. Because I can tell you, the sensation of being nervous before a presentation is no less and no more that what you feel in a rollercoaster.