Do you feel stressed out when you speak Italian in your day-to-day life?
Do you see every speaking situation literally as a pain?
Do you get nervous when someone talks to you in Italian?
When we live abroad, any type of conversation can be potentially stressful. We worry that we won’t be able to understand, that we won’t know what to say, that people won’t understand us…
I’ve seen it in my experience when I was living in the UK and now that I’m living in Spain, and I see it with my clients when they have a sort of bias towards the Italian language or the Italian people. When they take for granted that speaking will be a disaster because they believe that:
- the Italians speak too fast and can’t stop talking
- they might get mad at them for how they talk
- they won’t have the patience to listen to them
- the Italian language is just too crazy
… they set themselves up for frustration, stress, and sometimes even sadness and rage.
If this is your case, I would like you to remember something really important:
our thoughts influence our feelings.
This comes from cognitive-behavioral therapy, and it shows you how easy it is to see the darker side of a situation or a speaking opportunity instead of its brighter side. If you think that no one will understand or help you, you’ll get stressed out even before joining a conversation.
So, in this video, I would like to give you a few tips to take the reins of your conversations and feel more and more relaxed when you speak Italian.
Most of the time, we see these our speaking situations as obstacles. So, it’s easy to perceive them as overwhelming, scary, stressful… the list goes on
But if we start to see each speaking situation as a challenge, we can start to see ourselves as in charge of that situation.
What changes here? Everything. We start to see ourselves no longer as a victim but as someone who can take the reins. So we can start asking ourselves questions like
What can I do to change this?
What’s in my power?
What are my resources?
How can I face this situation?
And this, believe me or not, is a real game-changer.
Label your feelings
It’s easy to let feelings take over, but when we do it we get lost in our negative thoughts. And, as we saw before, thoughts influence our feelings, which in turn influence our behavior.
So, what can we do to begin to stop this vicious circle?
Any time you feel stressed out before joining a conversation or during a conversation, try to tell yourself:
“I’m feeling…” and then complete with how you’re feeling.
For example “I’m feeling scared”, “I’m feeling overwhelmed”, “I’m feeling tense”….
This helps you calm down and have a better and clearer perspective of the situation. It’s something I also say to the members of my Italian Warriors Club any time they feel stressed out before their weekly speaking challenge.
You need to recognize your feelings and label them, if you want to start feeling relaxed when you speak Italian.
Label your feelings so that they’ll stop hunting you.
The third tip that I would like to give to you is somehow linked to the first one.
In the first tip, I showed you how to reframe a speaking situation and see it as a challenge rather than an obstacle. Now we’re going to see how to reframe a situation after you see that something hasn’t gone as you planned. In other words, when you make a mistake.
We all think we shouldn’t make mistakes when we speak, because that means (according to how we were taught) that we can’t speak well. But mistakes are actually inevitable. There’s more: if we want to learn, we need to make mistakes.
So the next time that you make a mistake and you want to blame yourself for that, try and ask yourself:
What can I learn from it?
What needs my attention?
What can I say next time instead of what I said today?
To sum up, here is what to keep in mind if you want to be more relaxed when you speak Italian:
- Our thoughts influence our feelings
- We can change perspective and see each speaking situation as a challenge rather than an obstacle
- If we label our feelings, we can calm ourselves down
- Mistakes are our ally to learn, grow, and improve
Now, over to you, what are going to put into practice today?