Our emotions are regulated by the Mid Brain. In conjunction with other parts of your brain, your Mid Brain will make you nervous when you're reminded of a previous nerve-wracking experience. So if you had an experience at school where you were humiliated in front of your classmates, or suffered an embarrassing mindblank in an important presentation, those strong emotional memories may come back to haunt you.
If you can readily identify a previous experience which is causing you to be nervous now, the most important thing to do is rationally evaluate how bad it was. If you continue to tell yourself that it was a terrible, awful experience it will continue to create nervousness for you into the future. So rationally evaluate how awful it was. What were the consequences of it?
Here's an exercise I use on our courses to help people put these experiences in perspective. You can do this now:
1. Think of that nerve-wracking presentation experience.
2. How awful was it on a scale of 0 to 100%?
-. Imagine, your little finger has just been cut off in an accident!
-. How awful is that on a scale of 0 to 100%?
5. And now how awful is that nerve-wracking experience compared to losing your little finger.
Most people revise the awfulness of their nerve-wracking experience from somewhere near 100% to somewhere near 0%. They would prefer to relive that nerve-wracking presentation experience rather than lose their little finger. The loss of the finger helps them to put it in perspective. (If you're happy to lose your little finger, imagine losing your hand, or the finger or hand of a loved one - at some point you'll gain some perspective).
The rational reality is that most of the things that happen to us in presentations, are not that bad. They're nothing compared to the other things that can happen to us in life - like relationship break-ups, loss of a loved one, and serious health issues. The most serious consequences of a presentation going badly are losing a large sale, an election or other contest, or your job (though I've never heard of someone losing their job because of one bad presentation). These consequences are disappointing - but not catastrophic.
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