Tomorrow is the day. You can’t sleep. Your thoughts are racing. Your body begins to shake and tremble.
The morning comes greeted by great fear and nausea. You feel paralyzed and have thoughts of escaping either back to bed or to a deserted island. Or maybe you could disappear altogether. What does tomorrow bring? War. Surgery. Court. None of these. Tomorrow brings the expectation that you speak in front of a group, large or small.
If you have lived this terrifying experience over and over again you are in the majority of people in the America.
Public Speaking is the number fear in America even before death. Most of us would rather be in the casket at a funeral than speaking at it.
So why is that? I suggest to you that Public Speaking is not naturally stressful.
Stress and fear around public speaking is developed through a few different possibilities. The most common one is a traumatic event while either speaking or performing in front of others.
This could be as simple as a show and tell experience in kindergarten where someone may have criticized you or laughed at a mistake you made.
It could be a bigger event such as someone calling you names or mocking you while speaking or performing in front of others. There are thousands of possible situations that could create a fear of speaking in public. Each one is a personal experience that creates specific beliefs that then trigger a string of negative thinking that leads to the feeling of fear.
The fear reinforces it’s self each time it is experienced. You may, as you mature, be able to accept on a rational level that the fear is irrational. You can see that it really makes no sense in real life.
But knowing the fear is not rational does not make the fear go away.
You still experience the negative thinking and fear at the drop of a hat if you are expected to speak in public. You may tell yourself in your mind or out loud that you are fine. That speaking is not scary that you can do this calmly and easily. But when it comes to it you start to shake, your mind blanks out, your knees get weak, your thoughts race and you are off into the same pattern.
Your experience then just reinforces your beliefs, which lead to the negative thinking which creates your fear and all the symptoms that come along with it. Again.
Lets examine for a minute how our feelings of fear are created. Most people believe that we are subject to our feelings. That we have no real control or choice about what we feel. Feelings are powerful things. They lead to love, marriage, divorce, hate, anger, charity, our choice in jobs, having children and more. Most everything we do is based on our feelings about it. Even when we are thinking about things logically we are still seeing the logic through our own set of feelings. Lets look at an example.
Lets take a woman who loves to go camping and fishing with her husband and kids. One camping trip in the summer they have an unusually experience. A normal activity becomes life threatening. On this trip a friend almost drowns, their boat comes unanchored 2 times on a very large river and has to be retrieved, they are forced to navigate this same large river in the pitch dark in order to try and return home.
On the way home the wife witnesses her husband fall asleep behind the wheel, cross the center line and almost flip their boat and truck, thankfully it was 2am and nobody was on the road.
Six months later this same women develops a crippling fear of driving after dark or riding in the car with her husband. She also over the years develops a significant fear of camping.
Her life becomes full of fear. This is an example of how something traumatic can cause crippling fear in someone’s life.
So how does this apply to the fear of public speaking you ask. Well somewhere along the line you likely developed a belief that is now creating your emotions of fear. This is your perception. As I like to say the glasses you look through in life. We all see things differently, like public speaking, depending on the glasses we are looking through.
There are many beliefs that are creating your own personal pair of glasses. The feeling of fear is usually connected to a situation that felt like it threatened your survival either physically or emotionally. Fear is a natural response to something that could damage you in some way.
However when a situation has no real threat in it and the feeling of fear is keeping us from it then it is actually harming us instead of helping us as it is created to do. It is a self-enforcing cycle. It is believed in many schools of thought that we actually hold the fear in our neuro-pathways in our brain. And that each time we have a thought, speak a word or experience a feeling we are strengthen that neuro-pathway.
So in order to break out of the damaging cycle of fear we need to interrupt the pattern and release the original belief that created the fear.
Once the belief is released then the response of fear is no longer needed. This all needs to be done on a sub-conscious and energetic level of the mind and body. Some beliefs I have found common in people experiencing public speaking fear are:
- It is not okay to make mistakes
- Everyone is (unfairly & negatively) judging me
- I am not good at speaking
- Others will make fun of me
- I will fail
- I don’t have anything important to say
- I need to be perfect
- I inherited this fear
Each belief is so personal depending on how and when the belief and fear started. It is important to discover your specific beliefs that create your fear. Sometimes it can be difficult to uncover our beliefs because we don’t believe that on a conscious level. But remember it is the sub-conscious in the neuro-pathways of the brain that we want to address the beliefs. You may not even be aware on the conscious level that you have some of these beliefs.
Once you discover your specific beliefs you can then work to eliminate those beliefs. The techniques that I have found most helpful for releasing and replacing negative beliefs are Affect Bridge Technique, Eye Movement Integration, and Emotional Freedom Technique. In all of these techniques we are working on both the subconscious level and the energetic level of the mind and body.
Affect Bridge Technique is used to discover the original event that created the belief and fear the first time. Our subconscious mind remembers all that happens to use in great detail. By contacting the subconscious we are able to ask directly for what we need to know about the fear. Other hypnosis techniques are also used to help teach the mind to have a positive experience and to use advanced relaxation techniques.
Eye Movement Integration is used to facilitate the release of the negative beliefs and energy that is being held in the neuropath ways. We use eye movements to open up the neuropath ways in the brain to allow the negative beliefs to be released and new learnings to be integrated properly. Clients frequently report that they actually feel the energy moving and feel a great emotional release while participating in Rapid Eye.
Emotional Freedom Technique is used to balance the bodies energy system in relation to a specific thought or belief. It is believed that the emotion we feel comes from a imbalance in our bodies meridian system. The meridian system is the same energy system that acupuncture is based on. The meridians can become either over charged, under charged or blocked. When our energy system is unbalanced then we experience the feelings that come with stress and fear. By lightly tapping on specific energy points while using specific wording we are able to retrain the bodies meridians to stay balanced and in doing so we help to eliminate the negative emotions and feelings that come when the system is unbalanced.
All 3 techniques are natural and safe to use. Techniques can be learned and used at home to facilitate release and self-empowerment.
Self-empowerment is the goal of all my work. I desire my work to allow my clients to feel powerful and in charge of their own work. I am just a support person lightly guiding them when needed.
Public Speaking can become a enjoyable experience for those who are ready to let go of the negative beliefs and feelings that are creating it. There is no sweeter experience then freedom!
If the fear of public speaking is holding you back in your life and career, come talk to me. Working with public speaking is my signature strength, my favorite issue to work with and area of best results with my clients.
And you’re not just working with a hypnotist who understands public speaking in theory. Maybe that’s why I love this particular work. My background includes being a corporate trainer and training developer where I traveled the country training groups in sales. I have presented in front of audiences from 20-something to several hundred in my career as a mindset coach and hypnotist, and was even a stand-up comedian for a few years here in the Twin Cities. For a few years I was on a stage at least once a week as either a featured act or Master (Mistress?) of Ceremonies.
I have walked this road, from feeling like my knees were doing the Charleston in front of an audience (you couldn’t see it on video!) to reaching the point where I am comfortable talking anytime (as long as I know what I’m talking about!).