Have you seen the movie The Secret of Life of Walter Mitty? I have and didn’t care for it one bit. Of course, I was hopped up on meds and lack of sleep. Anyway, I don’t think I am spoiling any plot points by saying that he copes with his boring life by engaging in vivid daydreaming. That part I can actually relate to.
I am one of those people that can engage in lucid dreaming. I have been in the middle of a dream eating a hamburger and I wake up with my hands in motion near my face. I can feel my dreams and I can control parts of them. It’s a tactic I learned very early on in life. In part, I learned to be a lucid dreamer in order to control some part of my life as I grew up in a very scary, crime-ridden neighborhood. Or that is what my own psychoanalysis of myself tells me.
Whenever I have been faced with a nerve-wracking situation up ahead, the night before I calm the nerves down by lucid dreaming. The day of the situation, I engage in very active day-dreaming. In all my dreams, I am often an Indiana Jones type of adventurer and social justice seeker. What a nerdy set of dreams for sure. It is in that mode that I calm my nerves down. Just like Indiana Jones I am afraid of rats, but I can overcome that fear to get to the holy grail. That is how I view most situations. I remind myself that the situation will only last so long and that it too shall pass.
I give hundreds of presentations and talks. Many people think I do not get nervous before giving such talks. I am quite charming and anybody that has heard or seen me give a talk knows I like the microphone. However, I am just like anybody else. It does not matter how many times I have taken the stage each time always brings about a round of stomach butterflies. It’s natural and human to feel nervous.
I psych myself up by remembering why I am there and reminding myself that I know my stuff. That is part of any arsenal of getting over one’s nerves. My secret weapon is my day dreaming whereby right before hand, I dream of catching the “bad guys” or sipping a mai tai on a Hawaii beach somewhere.
Yes, right before I give a talk, I let my mind wander and go elsewhere for a bit. Why not? It’s good to free the mind and then rein it back in right when it is necessary. I even attain witty anecdotes when I engage in such daydreaming, that I then integrate into my talk. Inspiration can come from anywhere, including the nerves.
Go ahead. Dream a little dream and then go one to do a fab job.