Butterflies in my stomach

Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach?

It is a term that has been used to describe that nervous feeling one gets normally just before moving out of their comfort zone. With adrenaline pumping, that fight or flight response kicks into gear. Some of the most common examples of potential butterflies in the stomach would be public speaking, first dates and job interviews. We are facing people we know little to nothing about and the expectations is we have something good and important to say. Our voice is now front and center, our future and/or reputation may ride heavily on this encounter.

Public speaking was not a source of great anxiety for me, I don’t know why but speaking in public came naturally. I get an initial small sensation of nervousness that quickly dissipates as soon as the first introduction is complete. Good thing that, as I make part of my living standing up in front of people for presentations and workshops. For others though, it is a dreadful prospect to be asked to speak in front of an audience. Toastmasters has provided tips, support and opportunities to help many get over this fear. Butterflies will lessen as participants get more comfortable with their new skill.


First dates had me fighting off the butterflies, while putting on my clothes and makeup the importance of breathing itself took on a whole new meaning. I remember the first time I saw my husband… butterflies. An unplanned meeting of the minds after one of his gigs (former bass player in a band), our first date, first invite to my New Years party (for four) and subsequent first kiss, all had butterflies flying around like they were high on caffeine.  At our wedding the butterflies were momentarily flying but couldn’t get full lift off, I was exactly where I wanted to be and once I saw my man there was no room for anything but love.

Job interviews, Wow! I have seen people just fall apart at the thought of doing a job interview. It is such a real fear that places the butterflies in overdrive. A hands shaking, voice stuttering, no digesting, face flushing experience for some individuals. Much like public speaking there is a real feeling of vulnerability, others are hanging on your words and essentially you are on stage.  What you are wearing, your body language, facial expressions, everything under the microscope. Each person in that room with you has gone through the exact same experience at one point or another but that is of little comfort when you are in the hot seat. I like helping people get over their anxiety with job interviews and use unique tools to accomplish that goal, but I have been around long enough to know it is a big hurdle for many people.

Sometimes the butterflies can tell you not to go in a certain direction, they can act like a warning sign. Flight may be a good thing. When trying to make a decision or simply even exploring options I have often found those butterflies help me understand whether I’m going down the right path or not. Paying attention to our body and all of its little internal signals is not to be taken lightly. It fascinates me that we have been created with an inner knowing and have the ability to conquer our fear or follow our bliss if we just let those butterflies do their thing and then move on.

Caught a few butterflies today, but feeling much better now.


What makes you nervous and how do relieve those butterflies?

8 Responses to Butterflies in my stomach

  1. This is a topic I can relate to! While I’m not plagued by swarms of butterflies in my stomach on a regular basis, there definitely have been times when I was overwhelmed by them. When dating a new guy I really liked, at job interviews, and when I’m called into my boss’s office and I don’t know why, sometimes I just assume that I’ve done something wrong and I’m going to be reprimanded for it. I’ve only been in my current job for 5 months and on Tuesday my boss did this and I really felt like he was angry with me for a miscommunication via email even though he wouldn’t come right out and say he was angry. He’s never been angry with me before so I apologized even though I felt like I didn’t do anything wrong and in fact was just trying to be helpful. He misinterpreted my email so I immediately assumed there must be something wrong with how I wrote it. Big butterflies that day!

    I haven’t done much public speaking and while it doesn’t traumatize me, it does make me a bit nervous. I like the idea that we should pay attention to when we have butterflies because they could be a warning sign. Now, how do we deal with them?

  2. I deal with Public speaking, with first of all taking a deep breath and then giving myself an internal talking to.

    I often say, “self they have asked you to speak to them, so that mens that they likely think that you know more than they do, or that your presence, words and opinion are valued..”
    That often works for me.

    If it is a TV taping, I firmly keep my eye and attention on the interviewer and let the cameraman/woman, do the moving around.

    If I am speaking in a hall or to a large group, I will often focus on one or two people in the audience, who look friendly and encourage some audience interaction to break the ice and establish possible common ground.
    (I often used to ask Jennifer accompany me to public talks, she is very good with people and can often pick up subliminal feelings and atmosphere.)

    As for being summoned by a boss…I often get butterflies with that one.
    But I find it helps to imagine how I would cope with the worst case scenario and work down from there…It then does not seem so bad, after that.

  3. See this is quite common, we have certain circumstances that totally play with nervousness. Going to the boss is another great example, thanks for that. This is where power/hierarchy or at least the perception of such creates uncomfortable feelings. The fear of the unknown and being reprimanded equally cause butterflies to rise. Even as you were briefly describing it I could imagine the butterflies pre and even post meeting.

    So you asked how do we deal with them:

    Everyone has different ways to deal with this, I believe wholeheartedly in the breath/meditation. Often before doing something that is causing such a reaction I take minutes to meditate and breath. By concentrating on my breath I relieve some pressure.

    I listened to music or something that soothes me. If I’m at home, I use the adrenaline more productively with a short workout.

    Job interviews, practise is key. My students/clients through practise and understanding what the questions are designed for, often find relief from some of the nervousness. Like first aid, once you know why and how you just go into do mode without thinking hard about the what ifs. The interview is a mutual exchange and is based on mutual needs, we are not better than each other we both have something the other may want.

    I agree with Pat’s response with public speaking, focus on faces that seem encouraging and interested. Practise comes into play here too.

    Generally, I assess what my fear is and remind myself that people really don’t care as much as I think they do. They don’t remember half of what I think they will. A stare may only be someone resting their eyes on me but thinking something completely different. I am my own worst enemy most of the time. Each of these realizations lessens the duration of the flight of the butterflies. Not perfect but a work in progress.


  4. Thanks Pat, those are also good examples and I’m glad you offered some different ways to approach it.

    I agree with you about TV taping too, I hadn’t thought of that one for this post. I too, when I have been in that situation, concentrate on the interviewer; keenly interested on the questions and thoughts. Let everyone else do their job around the set.

    Butterflies can teach us many things about ourselves and in that I think they deserve their place. Like anything though if it is debilitating, it needs to be addressed. Life is full of awkward moments, mistimed steps and words that are misconstrude.

    I will share my worst butterfly moments… when I’m about to sing. I sang for years in public but one day I made a mistake on stage and since then when I am about to sing the nervousness goes nuts. All of the symptoms come back, terrified my voice barely does what I want it to do. Butterflies aren’t even the half of it. Sad really, something I will have to work on, practise what I preach. Maybe one day I will blog about it further.

    Thanks Pat for your comment.

  5. i get butterflies regulary when i am watching tv when i am busy i dont get or dont notice them i suffer with depression and they are part of my symptoms hope this helps someone

  6. Thank for adding your voice to this post. It is interesting how this nervousness shows up in each of us. Welcome to my blog and all the best is wished for you.

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