Like all relationships, the relationship we have with performing can change and grow. It's not fixed. The "oh my God, I've got to get up and speak tomorrow" anxiety isn't a fixed way of being, even if it feels like it is. That's some seriously good news.
How we relate to public speaking, just like we relate to people, depends on our unique mental framework. We aren't viewing the world as it absolutely is -- we see it through the filter of our thoughts and perceptions. These thoughts and perceptions are influenced by past experiences that make us think the way we perceive something is the way it is.
I don't want to get to abstract with this. Here's a more concrete example. When he was five years old, John was in kindergarten. He loved recess and playing with clay. He hated arithmetic. It stressed his mind. He's not getting it, the teacher's getting frustrated, and he's picking up the belief that addition is hard. This gets imprinted in there: math is hard. That's his new mental model that could potentially inform his experience with mathematics for the rest of his life. What happens? His relationship with mathematics is skewed to support his belief.
Okay, this is a rudimentary example. Of course there are other variables at stake. But our belief systems seem pretty concrete, right? Well, they're not. And when we believe our beliefs are true, they affect our expectations of outcomes. And that affects the way we act. And how we act affects our results, and what happens to those original belief systems? They get reinforced and the same thing happens all over again.
This is a mental model.
It works like this:
Belief ----> Expectation -----> Action taken based on that expectation -----> result that reinforces belief
The thing is, we're operating under mental models all the time. This is just fine. We do well when we believe we'll succeed. It's just that, often, we relate to performance with certain mental models that prevent stellar performance.
The first step to creating new mental models is an awareness of the old ones - and the realization that they're just not absolutely true. There's always a different way to relate to any situation.
What are the mental models that inform your relationship to performing?