Someone recently told me that fear of public speaking is considered to be the second biggest fear after fear of death.
I am not sure how accurate that is, but it does make sense as it comes up in my homeopathic practice quite often.
I never allowed myself to consciously admit that I had a fear of public speaking, since it was something I had never done, never found myself in the position to do so, or maybe I was just subconsciously avoiding any situation that might lead up to it. I felt very proud (and a bit jealous) of my 14-year-old daughter’s confidence to deliver a wonderful speech for a school event and I found myself coming up with all sort of excuses, why I have never attempted anything similar, or maybe why it was not for me, or any other excuse I would come in my head, to justify my avoidance to be in a similar situation.
We recently took the leap as a family and bought our first home in the UK. Everyone was telling me how exciting this would be, but honestly it was one of the most stressful, exhausting and draining things I have ever done in my life. In the midst of the long process and the stress of a house buy, I was sent an email from an American company with offices here in Newbury where I live, asking me to deliver a workshop/ talk on well-being and nutrition. Without hesitating twice, I said yes. I was so consumed with the house move and the stress of managing life, work, children, a new school year, that my brain refused to sabotage and take me down a spiral of self-doubt and fear. So, I accepted the invite; to put together and event and to speak in front of strangers.
I suppose if I wasn’t so tired, busy and overwhelmed, my monkey brain would kick in and I would go into “what if” mode and consume myself with self-doubt about all the stupid things that our minds tend to make up. “Will I be good enough?”, “will they find me clever or interesting enough?”, “will they like me”, “will they think I am worth it?”.
These are some of the thoughts that subconsciously can run in the background like a programme and at some point, you have to put a stop to the circuit. If you don’t, they will consume and swallow you.
I wish I could say that I managed to block the circuit and change the pattern, by doing all this amazing inner work and all these meditations and visualisations to stop the programme from running. I didn’t; I was simply SO exhausted with work, seeing patients, managing a very busy family life, sorting out a big house move and on top doing a supper club for 14 people -that was booked moths before, that my brain had no capacity to allow me to think and go down the panic mode.
The day of the event was approaching and I started preparing all these “clever” facts, trying to come up with statistics to share with people, researching other people’s work and going through my books. I suddenly realised thought, that this would not be me.
What I had to do, was talk about the things that I find interesting, be authentic, share my passion and my calling as a therapist; to empower people to live a more holistic life with nutrition, homeopathy, spirituality, connection to nature and finding a community and a sense of purpose. And I did just that.
I prepared my notes, the conversation became quite interactive and people -who were a different audience that I am used to- intellectual men working in a corporate environment, engaged and stayed interested throughout the talk. Surprisingly talking about what I am passionate about and not just delivering facts and numbers, made it really fun for me too.
Who knew that public speaking could be so much fun!
What was the most fun thought, was that this experience taught me a very important lesson:
when you stay true to yourself ,to your values and mission, not trying to become something you are not, when you are passionate and authentic, only great things can happen.
I came out of the workshop elated, not because the feedback was very good and the organisers were very happy with how the event went, but because I actually had the guts and I went for it. Making myself uncomfortable and getting out of my comfort zone like that was a huge challenge for me, I pushed myself to do it and I delivered and it was great fun!
The sheer pride that I felt for actually being brave enough and showing up, was one I will never forget. A feeling that cannot be bought or given to you by anyone else. A feeling that you have to create for yourself by making yourself uncomfortable and by daring.
It blows my mind when people, consciously or not, step out of their comfort zone making themselves uncomfortable and attempt new things; they try and they succeed. Only because they show up.
Daring greatly, like the brilliant Brene Brown says and the courage to be vulnerable, transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. Great things happen when you dare. Show up and dare. And be proud!