E048 - Three tips to presenting your best self

communication heart self-regulation Mar 09, 2023

I'd like to share some really simple ways of presenting your best self. Even in front of 50 people, or 10 people in a meeting, these are simple ways to bring yourself into clarity and alignment to express exactly what you want to say. 

Many of us walk into a group setting and get a little bit activated. We may become nervous, our throat might start to close, we might get excited… and this can result in us over-speaking, with all our words coming out in a seemingly unending fountain. Afterwards we may feel ashamed, feeling that we spoke too much. 

On the other hand, some of us start to shut down when there are a lot of voices, loud voices, or funny people, feeling that there's no space for us. But this is a nervous system state inside us that we can undo, even though it may feel like it just happens to you. 

We don't actually have to be trapped inside our bodies with these feelings. We can move through them. No one taught me how to do that when I needed it, and it’s only after decades of self-knowledge, training and performing on stage that I began to understand my own conditioning and how to change it. 

So below are my three simple hacks to feel more confident, safe, settled, and happy to share yourself in a group setting. Watch the video or continue reading the blog below.

The very first tip is to think to yourself every time you walk into a group situation, “I'm going to regulate my nervous system.” So instead of becoming hypnotized by the group and everything that's going on, where everything feels so intense, and you don't know what to do—instead of freezing or getting anxious, your whole job when you walk into that room is to regulate your nervous system. That means down-regulating that anxiety or excess excitement, or even that sense of freezing, like you're starting to shut down and become cloudy and the wool's coming over your eyes. These are nervous system states that we want to regulate ourselves out of. 

So how do we do that? To down-regulate we want to slow our heart rate down and become more grounded, and one of the quickest ways to do that is with our breath. So we start to really consciously breathe. When we start to slow our breathing, we're already regulating our nervous system. 

There are many different ways to bring a sense of grounded calm into the nervous system. While you're consciously breathing, bring your awareness into your body. One way to regulate your nervous system quite quickly is to cross your wrists and put your hands onto the opposite thighs (your left hand on your right thigh, and your right hand on your left thigh). Now tap your thighs gently with your hands, alternating left and right. You can do this quite unobtrusively below a dinner table or a meeting table. Of course, if you're standing up at a party this will look a little strange unless everyone's dancing. If you're standing up, you can just tip, tap, tip, tap your feet left, right, left, right. The main object here is to bring your awareness down into your body, to become grounded and regulate your nervous system. It could take you a minute, it could take you five minutes. It could even take you 10, worst case. But use your time and attention to regulate your nervous system. 

Tip the second: Bring your awareness inside. We tend to hyper-focus when we're anxious in a group situation—we're hyper-aware of everything going on around us. On the one hand we're probably in our heads, but our nervous system is also doing a whole bunch of activating, because we're effectively scanning for danger. We're no longer feeling safe in our own body. 

Bring your awareness inside using some of the tips I described above—maybe tap your feet and breathe—bring your awareness into yourself instead of hyper-scanning the environment and being hyper-aware of everyone. By bringing awareness into your body and breathing, you can start to regulate and bring calm in. Imagine your mammal body as an animal body; it's overstimulated, and you're soothing the animal. Soothe the animal by bringing awareness inside. 

Tip the third is heart awareness. Most of us spend a lot of our time and energy trying to be socially acceptable when we're around other people. This mostly means being in our heads! So just imagine or work with the idea of bringing your awareness into your heart. This could mean softening a little bit, choosing kindness or a sense of gratitude, or even putting a little bit of love into the situation. Warming up inside and bringing warmth into the situation creates a lot of connection and a lot of trust. This isn't a Hallmark-card version of warmth of being super loving, lovely and sweet at the exclusion of all else—it's bringing a sense of heart connection, or heart awareness, into all of our interactions. And from my experience this creates a lot of warmth. So then wherever we go we tend to feel loved, safe, connected, and appreciated. And it makes other people feel safe too. 

Those are my three hacks for feeling more confident and safer in groups. Please put these tips into action and let me know how it goes for you—if you have some wins please pop me a line. My wish for you in all of this is that you feel deeply safe, comfortable, and confident in your own skin. It's an awkward, beautiful, messy thing, being a human being. We never get it right all of the time, but we really can feel safer, more confident and happy around other humans wherever we go, and that's my wish for you—and for me too!