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How to Have a Ground to Stand On

October 2, 2013 4 Comments


Overcoming Performance Anxiety Tip #1: How to Have a Ground to Stand On –

Yesterday, I wrote about overcoming performance anxiety and I shared a number of ways I helped myself calm down and prepare for a radio interview. If you didn’t see that post and would like to read it, you can find it here.

Today, I’d like to zoom in on one of the things I did for myself and show you how to do it for yourself so you can put your best foot forward with confidence.

I’m going to show you how to “ground” yourself. And I’ll show you two different ways. One is straightforward; the other calls on your imagination.

But first, why even think about grounding? And what is it?

Imagine for a moment, that you’re nervous or scared. You have to give a talk, or have a difficult conversation, or you’ve been called out about something. There’s probably a lot going on with you both physically and mentally as a result.

In the midst of this, you probably can’t feel the ground under your feet. You might feel as if you’re floating or you’re on shaky ground or you can’t get a footing. The ground will feel unreliable in some way, if you even have any awareness of it.

Our language captures this well.

“I can’t get my feet on the ground”

“I don’t have a leg to stand on”

“I’m stepping in quicksand”

“I have feet of clay”

“I’m not on my own ground”

On the other hand, when we are grounded, we have a sense of solid support. We are literally connected to the ground and held firmly. We are stable and balanced. And, when we’re supported and stable and balanced, we are much better able to calm down, slow down, think clearly, respond flexibly, and be real.

That’s why grounding is such an important thing to do for yourself, especially when you have to perform in any way.

So, here’s one way to ground yourself.

  1. Wherever you are, stand up.
  2. Bring your attention to your feet.
  3. Really notice the ground under them, and the way the soles of your feet touch it.
  4. Let that solid, here-and-now surface support you.

If you’re doing this when you’re hurried, worried, or distracted, it may be hard for you to feel the solidity of the ground. If it feels shaky, spongy, shifting, or somehow not solid, here are a couple of ways you can help yourself.

  • Bend your knees and bounce gently while pushing your feet into the ground.
  • If the ground still does not feel solid, stamp your feet a few times, firmly feeling it beneath you.

Here’s another way to help yourself ground, this time using your imagination.

  1. Imagine you are a majestic tree.
  2. Visualize or sense your roots growing into the ground.
  3. Feel them reach deeper and deeper, counterbalancing the length and strength of your trunk and branches.
  4. Inhale down into your roots, helping them reach further into the ground.
  5. Continue to press down into your roots as your exhale rises up and out.
  6. Continue this for a few, relaxed breathing cycles.
  7. Take a moment to feel the difference.

HINT: It’s easy to let your feet get light as you exhale up and out. Consciously resist that impulse, thinking your roots downward as your exhale rises up and out. You might have a sense of lengthening as you do this.

So here’s your assignment, if you choose to take it on.

The next time you catch yourself hurrying, worrying or floating, try out one of these ways of grounding yourself. And see what happens. What do you notice? Does anything change in your heart rate? Your breathing? Your thinking. How about the sound of your voice?

Check it out and let me know what happens. I’d love to hear what you discover.

Just scroll down to leave your comments in the box below.

Your Powerful Presence Coach,

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PS: Be sure to check back for more tips on overcoming performance anxiety when you have to speak.

© 2013 Naaz Hosseini. All Rights Reserved. Copying or resposting this content without written permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author:

Naaz Hosseini

Naaz Hosseini is a communication coach and voice empowerment coach. She developed Powerful Presence™ coaching to help corporate and entrepreneurial women step into their vocal power to command the attention and respect they deserve. As a NYS Licensed Psychoanalyst and Qualified Gestalt Therapist, she supervises and trains mental health counselors at Teachers College Columbia University and therapists at the Gestalt Center for Psychotherapy and Training. She served as visiting faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Project Zero Summer Institute for ten years where Howard Gardner has said, “With enthusiasm, I recommend Naaz Hosseini, a pioneer in using the voice and the body for understanding.”

Comments (4)

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  1. Brenda says:

    Well done. Your article on grounding is articulate and very much needed by your audience.

    I caught the link on my linkIN page…

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