(Estimated reading time 3 minutes)
This week I’m diving headlong into overcoming one of my long standing fears – public speaking. I went to my first Toastmasters meeting, did a video which I shared on Facebook and will be attending my first Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) event by the time this blog posts. From reading this you might think that perhaps I don’t actually have an issue with public speaking. I do. It not the actual speaking in public that shuts me down as much as it is unscripted speaking in public. My fear is that without a script anxiety will freeze my brain cells and I will not have one thought in my head! This is an ice-in-your-veins kind of fear for me and here is how it plays out: I get stuck in a loop where my brain gets fixed on this one thing – if I get up in front of people to speak in an unscripted way I tell myself that my fear will wipe every thought I have out of my head and I won’t have one thing to say. My body fills with tension, I can’t get enough breath and my vision starts to blur. For me even the thought of it is a danger signal that tells me to run away as fast and far as I can!
So what tools am I using to propel myself beyond this fear?
Up to now my goal in this area has been to avoid risk. Although I really like avoiding risk, I have traded that for something I value more – growing as a person and being able to make a valuable contribution. In fact, this idea of contribution goes even deeper for me towards something that feels like a calling to help people move beyond their shadows. I can do that by writing, but the calling is strong enough that it feels like writing is not enough – that I need to be able to speak about it too. Avoiding risk is still something I value but I have shoved it out of first position and replaced it with something stronger that will help me to exercise my courage muscle and move toward my future.
There are two other things I’m doing to help me move beyond this shadow. Every time I start to think about having no thoughts in my head when speaking in public, I tell myself that my head is full of thoughts – I’m changing the narrative that has been playing in my head for years. I also decrease the anxiety in my body by taking a few deep breaths.
It turns out Toastmasters wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I can learn a lot from being part of that group and plan to continue attending. Doing a Facebook live video is VERY scary. I opted to pre-record the video instead which still brought on a lot of nerves and felt like a good move in the right direction!
Here’s to living with courage, clarity, compassion and confidence!
Tips for moving beyond the shadows
- Change the destructive phrases that play on a loop in your brain.
- Find something you value more than staying in the shadows and place it high up your priority list.
- Take a deep breath and go for it!
Here’s to living with clarity, courage, compassion and confidence!