I don’t read a lot of books, since I have a hard time remembering BUT I do love the core principles Valerie Burton outlined in her book, Successful Women Think Differently.
Your thoughts create your actions. I have said it a million times, think negative thoughts and more negative things happen. Think positive thoughts and more positive things happen. For me, sometimes I don’t realize I am thinking negative thoughts. Crazy, right? How many times have the words “don’t” or “need” or “won’t” been in your thoughts? The Universe seldom hears things after these words. I never really understood it until I started a list of positive mantras and read them every morning. I claim the things I want and I am getting them – slowly but they are coming.
When you become aware of what you are saying to yourself about things, you can consciously decide if the thought is moving you toward your goals or farther away. Thoughts don’t just lead you to take actions, your thoughts also shape the sound of your voice. Yes, the tone of our internal voices will reflect on the outside and others will see it.
Our voice is an expression of our internal state. If our internal state is anxious and you think danger is imminent, our voice will reflect anxiety. I have seen this play out so many times. On the inside, I am stressing about money, relationships, business or whatever – on the outside, I am snappy and tense. Our body responds to our thoughts. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to hide it.
Here is the “technical reason”: The sound of your voice is regulated by the vagus nerve, which is central to the parasympathetic nervous system. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, which can happen as a fight-or-flight response to anxiety-producing thoughts, the vocal cord muscle spasms. This can cause your voice to quiver or ‘sound nervous’. Additionally, when stressed or nervous, you typically don’t breathe deeply. As a result, you don’t have the air which creates the pressure needed for a strong, consistent voice quality.
How can you change things to sound more confident?
1. Become aware of your thoughts and redirect counterproductive ones. Basically, go from a negative thought to a positive one. Instead of “No one wants to book parties” or “It is taking so long to pay off my debt”, intentionally change the thought. If you can, change your environment – go for a walk, a ride or just sit out in the sunshine and watch the clouds. Choose a new thought – like “I am a booking machine” or “I have enough money to pay off my debt”. Do something (anything) to get your mind moving in a new direction.
2. Exercise. Exercise purges negative energy. It is true. I don’t mean you have to go to the gym to exercise, unless you want to. For me, it means a walk around the block or some housecleaning or turn on the music and dance.
3. Practice. We have heard most of our lives “practice makes perfect”. While we aren’t looking for perfection, we are looking to feel confident. Need to do a presentation in from of a group and you feel uncomfortable or anxious – practice what you are going to say in advance. Some will say you should even record it and listen to find the areas where you want to improve. Take a video on your phone or have someone else film you. Then watch it back. Don’t be overly hard on yourself, just look for ways to improve. You don’t need to be PERFECT but you want to get rid of the nervous energy.
4. Hydrate. Hydration alleviates dry mouth. Drink water before or during important conversations. In the beginning of talking to a group of any size, I am nervous. I usually ask for a glass of water or keep a bottle of water handy. When I feel like I am talking too fast or my nervousness is showing, I stop, take a sip of water, breathe and move on. It really does make a difference. It is like the water washes away the nervousness.
5. Talk it out. This one is tough for me because when I have the negative thoughts and I try to share them, I get emotional. I have been blessed with friends, old and new, who help me to put my negative thinking into perspective. Be careful and choose wisely. Be sure you pick someone to share with who will help put the negative thoughts into perspective restoring a sense of confidence and calm.
These are some basic steps which will help, I know because I continue to practice all of them at some point in my life. As you become more aware of the negative thoughts, you will be able to convert them to positive thoughts and actions to help you move forward.
What thoughts make you anxious and chip away at your confidence?