While I may have a natural knack for languages, it hasn't always been plain sailing for me either. A plurilingual, global expat life also comes with its own learning challenges and communication blocks.
Past vs Present vs Future fears
I used to get anxious about speaking in front of people for different reasons, even in a foreign language - whatever foreign meant each time. I would often have some concepts in my mind about how things should go. In hindsight it's easy to say that's a recipe for disaster and guaranteed to set myself up for anxiety before I even have a chance to have the experience. Talk about self-sabotage! Sound familiar?
There have been many times when I have had no choice but to step up and speak in another language. Maybe it's a survival mode thing but I always find it easier to embrace the fear when I'm pushed up against the wall in the moment. Because there are no other options. When I was younger things were different, there was no Internet, there were no smart phones, so you kind of just had to figure it out in the moment. And somehow you always did. There wasn't any time for worrying about what someone might say in the future if it didn't come out "perfectly". You had to just get on with it in the present moment. What is perfect anyway?
A growth mindset
But it's not easy to catch ourselves and apply the right mindset in the moment. It takes awareness, courage, and acceptance of our blocks to be able to start creating changes. And of course, the anxiety didn't just disappear for me over night. I was just determined to not let it control me or keep me stuck. So I kept practising and confronting myself. Every time I faced a challenging situation that made me feel anxious or nervous, I trusted and knew that it was one step closer to freedom from my limiting beliefs. This growth mindset has helped me personally and professionally to keep pushing through and finding ways to overcome my communication fears and face the challenges head on.
Finding our voice
Many of us are at heart very social and passionate communicators - and naturally so in our mother tongue. We love to share our voice, to express ourselves and simply feel connected through spoken words. Yet so often, when it comes to speaking in front of others, especially at work, the fear of getting judged can be an utterly paralysing experience. Don't let your fears stop you from having a voice and finding connection in another language.
Follow your heart with self-compassion
The good news is that there is a way to let go and move forward with more confidence. You just have to feel what it is that you want in your heart. Then you can commit to the change and growth with clarity and certainty so that you can let go of the fears and overcome your obstacles. You have to have trust and have faith - and patience - no matter how long it takes you to reach those goals. And you have to have a lot of self-compassion. Comparing your communication skills with those of others and putting yourself down with your inner self criticism and judgements only takes you further away from your goals.
When you know what you want, then you can focus on that and you know your goals are within your reach!