Speech Contest May 2024 (4)

Why Bother Reframing Our Thinking?

When was the last time you felt disappointed, defeated, let down and disillusioned? Disappointment happens to us all and if we let it, it can make us feel like powerless losers, incapable dweebs, or rejected victims. But, if we can reframe our “loser” thinking, then we build resistance to prolonging our discouragement and get back in the saddle quicker. 

      I Thought I Was a Winner

Every January marks the beginning of a new contest season at Toastmasters, the public speaking club that I belong to. With encouragement from one of our fearless leaders, I choose to throw my hat into the ring of competitors. I’m also determined to win as many levels of the contest as possible, so I hire a speaking coach named Lindy. When I first connect with her via zoom I learn that she was a runner up in Toastmasters international final speech contest. 

Lindy is an animated individual who is professional, and I like her right away.  She agrees to coach me, and I send her my speech. She edits it, sends it back and says, “Practice it and send me the video.” 

I’m nervous in front of the camera that my friend Kay sets up, so she brings a few stuffed animals into her living room and arranges them so that I have a friendly audience to look at. They have a calming effect and I send the video off to Lindy. 

Now the real work begins. After Lindy views the video, we watch it together and she interjects comments. “You need to remember how it feels sitting on your dad’s lap. Remember how you feel when your anger rises up toward your husband and son.” 

Working to bring out my emotions is hard, and I think any kind of manual labor would be easier to do. But the hard work pays off. In March, I win second place in the first round of competition held in Hayden Lake, Idaho. I move to the next level. 

Readying myself for the next round of competition, I practice. I practice my speech in my car on my way to work. Once I get to work, I lock my classroom door and use the large empty space to implement gestures and body language. Then I practice again on the way home from work and in front of my bedroom mirror after dinner.

Now, it’s April and my practice pays off. I win first place at Airway Heights, Washington. I call Lindy and share my excitement.

“What’s next?” she asks? 

“The Toastmaster Conference in May,” I say.  

I register for the event and anticipation builds up inside of me: I’ll stand on a bigger stage, there will be a larger audience, and more competitors. Can I do this? Will I win? 

Lindy and I work together again via zoom before the conference. Once again, I think manual labor is easier than expressing my emotions, but I let my feelings rise up and express themselves. Once again, the hard work pays off because I am the winner of the District 9 International Speech Contest. My sister Diane tells me, “I knew you’d win.”  

On my way home, I call Lindy and tell her that the video of my speech will be sent off to regional judges and all I have to do is wait for them to decide. 

While waiting, I fantasize about speaking at that next level; If I am a winner at regionals then I would go onto the semi and final competition in California, an expensive trip to take. But what an experience it would be. Meeting people from all over the world and standing on a huge stage. Will I win regionals? My mind ping-pongs back and forth between yes and no.

Finally, at the end of June, an email from the chief judge arrives. I read it in haste. Did I win?  But then I reread it. No. My name is not listed as one of the two winners. I’m disappointed. I thought I was a winner. 

I email Lindy with the news, and she responds immediately. She knows how it feels. She tells me, “Take your time with feeling your disappointment then make a list of all that you are grateful for.” 

I mull over my disenchantment, think about all the could have beens and then I make a list of what I am grateful for.

  • I’m so grateful for Lindy. She was an amazing coach.
  • I’m glad for the experience of standing in front of different audiences and meeting new people.
  • I’m thankful for the wins.
  • I’m encouraged when I remember the support from the people in my club.
  • I’m delighted that Diane, my sister, shared my excitement when I won the district competition. 

Why bother reframing our thinking? When we reframe our thoughts with gratitude we build resilience to prolonged disappointment, and we get back in the saddle quicker. 

The next time you are disappointed, take your time with feeling the disappointment, then make a list for all that you are grateful for. 


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