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Archive for September, 2014

Sometimes fear is not at an awareness level. It’s like those dust mites floating in the air. We don’t notice they are there until the light exposes them. You’re put in an unexpected position that makes you tremble, shake and panic: an intruder, a disaster or a loss. You manage to survive, and sometimes, looking back, you don’t even know how.

But there are also those fears that we are well aware of, so we avoid those situations: rock climbing, flying or public speaking. That fear can define us and we let it.

How we deal with fear can be transformational. Because it’s not what’s happening to you or what you’re experiencing that matters. It’s how you relate to it. In fearful situations, if you shift your focus to what you do have control over, you can reduce fear’s influence.

This is how I diminished fear’s impact in one area of my life – public speaking.

Shift perspective

For years I let my fear of public speaking influence and shape many of my actions and decisions.  Early on, I had decided that public speaking was not something that was possible – at least not for me.  So, the first step was to simply entertain the idea that it might be possible. To consider, ‘What if?’

By spending some time entertaining possibility, instead of being completely opposed to the idea, I could expand rather than contract. I could imagine “worst case scenarios” and better prepare and accept those “what ifs.”

Acknowledge fear

I want to grow and evolve and the fear of making a mistake or looking like a fool in front of people had such control over my life, it was standing in the way of my evolution. So I allowed it to show up every time I just thought about speaking to a group. I accepted it and became the observer. Acceptance and not judging fear as good or bad reduced its power.

Slowly the desire to expand and grow became more powerful than my usual response of avoidance. When faced with the choice to be conquered by fear, or to keep walking, fear can become a comrade of sorts. Almost like a friend who keeps me on my toes.

Get Help

This is an important part of the process. For every public speaker, there is a fan club behind the scenes. I had the help of fellow Toastmasters and actively enlisted friends and family members; people who were open to listening to my message, who gave me feedback and most importantly – who believed in, and celebrated me. They are all there with me, every time I speak.

Own your message

Believing in and committing to my message wholeheartedly, significantly increased my bravery. And accepting that there is no guarantee that I will not make a mistake or say something foolish because I am, after all, imperfect in a perfect way.

Knowing, deep in my bones that my message is an important one….that it has the power to inspire, motivate and induce positive change – if only in one other person – that’s where I tapped into a whole new source of power.

And may it be so for you!

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