Grounding: Strong, Solid and Free
My feet don’t often touch the ground. Now, don’t me wrong; no one’s going to mistake me for David Blaine or anything.
But that’s just because my illusion is even better than his.
My feet are physically on the ground, but they’re definitely not always emotionally on the ground.
Public Speaking and Me
This has started to change for me a bit in the past couple years, but it’s been a process (like life, right?). I used to only notice it when I was nervous. Fortunately for me, I was almost always nervous, so I got lots of opportunities to practice.
When I was in college, if I had to share a paper in front of the class, I’d read the whole thing in under a minute and on one breath – even if it was five pages long. I couldn’t look up. I didn’t even try to make it interesting. All I cared about was getting it done without passing out. And not showing how much my hands were shaking.
So I did the only logical thing for someone who is afraid of public speaking: I became a teacher. And then I took a job where all I did was go around and give presentations.
Working with Me
Doing all this public speaking did make me a better, more comfortable speaker. No doubt about it.
But it didn’t help me bring my feet back to earth. If anything, it did the opposite. By forcing myself into uncomfortable situation after uncomfortable situation, my nervous energy got shuffled elsewhere—typically into my stomach and/or head.
Because, oh yeah; if I don’t feel like I have to go to the bathroom every five seconds when I’m about to give a talk then I feel like I’m getting a migraine.
That is, until I heard about this simple tactic that helps me to ground.
Pressing through My Feet
About a year ago, I was introduced to the work of Gail Larsen. I read her book Transformational Speaking in a hot second after I learned about it. It’s a great book all about weaving story, specifically personal stories, into your speaking and teaching.
But what I found even more helpful was the technique she shared about getting grounded. It goes a little something like this:
You know how a dog can put on their “brakes” and you can’t get them to go anywhere? Well, we humans have a similar thing. You might have seen kids (or frustrated adults) do it before.
First, try standing how you regularly stand. If you have someone trusted nearby, you can experiment with them. If not, you can just imagine it:
- Have the other person come up to you and try to (kindly) push you over from your regular stance. (They shouldn’t actually push you over unless you can fall into one of those children’s ball pits.)
- Now, make yourself an immovable mountain. This is all energetic; you’ll know what to do. For me, I press more through my feet and just get really strong inside.
- Next, have the person try to push you over again. It’s probably much more difficult, if not impossible.
Grounding vs. Bracing
For me, this activity helps me get grounded not only for public speaking but for anything going on in my life. Sometimes I just notice that my energy is all up in my head—I typically notice this if I’m talking really fast, rehashing an event for the umpteenth time, feeling a migraine coming on, etc.
When I notice these things, I do the activity above, and it pulls my energy right down out of the ether and back to earth.
What I love about this activity is that it helps me to ground instead of brace. And for me, there is a big difference in those two things. I used to brace all the time; it would show up for me as grinding my teeth at night, holding my pelvic floor so tightly that it was like I thought it would fall out and (pretty literally) carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.
When I brace, I feel smaller, more limited, more fearful. But when I ground, I feel taller, more limitless and more able to move forward with grace.