Is a fear of public speaking holding you back from a purposeful life coaching career?
Over twenty years ago, I’d put down the phone with a terrifying “Yes.”
I’d agreed to speak at a conference and be filmed for a television documentary.
Shaking and swallowing back tears as waves of terror ripped through my heart and gut, I asked my husband to watch over our young daughters while I went to lie down.
My fear of public speaking was made worse by a life-long crippling shyness. Haunted by the monstrous tumour that once caused the little four-year-old Colleen so much suffering, I was terrified of being looked at.
“The tumor is gone, The tumor is gone,” I tried to remind myself. But the long scar inside the bridge of my nose and along my hairline ear-to-ear remained.
The desire to tip my head and be invisible was still my go-to.
Here is an extract reflecting the Wisdom Well Meditation that helped me heal my fear of public speaking and step onto the stage with peaceful confidence.
MIND: “I’m terrified of standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people; just the thought makes me nauseous… what’s worse, there’ll be cameras recording for a documentary television feature on my life… How can I overcome the fear of public speaking? They’ll see my scars; they’ll all be looking at me!”
I knew it was an irrational fear, held in my body, locked in by the trauma of my childhood.
WISDOM: “What are you really frightened of?”
MIND: “People laughing at me. Children used to laugh and point at me as a kid with a tumour… all I can think of is how they’ll point and laugh. What if I say something stupid? What if they think I’m an idiot?”
WISDOM: “Picture what you’re most afraid of.”
MIND: “I can see them laughing; I can hear their judgmental thoughts –” I sobbed.
WISDOM: “– now breathe in wisdom, open to peace, see how your soul experiences their laugher.”
I opened to my intuition, setting an intention to see the experience from the eyes of wisdom, to know deep truth. I felt more peaceful, the twisting fear in my gut relaxed.
I imagined them judging, whispering and snickering. It felt different. With the clear seeing of wisdom, it was no longer frightening. There was no fear. Instead of shrinking back at their laughter, I joined in, laughing at myself. Tears of healing streamed.
MIND: “I would laugh with them!”
WISDOM: “Yes you would.”
MIND: “They can’t see me,” I saw with clarity. “They only see themselves, the parts of themselves they don’t like and do. I wanted to be invisible, but I see that I am. They never see me! They see themselves.”
Wondering if my fear of public speaking was now gone, I thought about the upcoming conference and the documentary filming.
The contracted twisting fear feeling had reduced but was still there.
MIND: “I’m still afraid; it’s better, the nausea is gone, but I’m still really frightened of speaking on that stage in front of cameras. The fear of public speaking is still there.”
WISDOM: “Look deeper than the surface layer of your fear; allow yourself to know what you’re truly afraid of.”
So I set that intention and waited patiently for insight asking, ‘What am I truly afraid of?’
The word formed clearly, and with it came a gut-punch confirmation.
MIND: “POWER. I’m afraid of power. What if I teach something and they use the knowledge in a bad way. Instead of helping, hurting, causing more harm than good. I’m afraid of the power of being a speaker, a coach and teacher.”
WISDOM: “Ask for the deep truth about this.”
MIND: “What is the deep truth? What do I need to see to be free of this fear?”
WISDOM: “There are only two things you need. One: Love them. Two: Be yourself.
MIND: “Love them and just be me?”
I could feel the truth of this insight. The fear dissolved. When I opened to the truth of letting myself love the audience and be myself, the last resistance in my being dissolved.
So I breathed in this new way of seeing and being, giving it to my mind, heart, and gut.
We cannot love what we’re afraid of.
I was terrified of people.
A month later, I stepped onto the stage facing the television camera and a jam-packed audience without a word prepared, trusting wisdom to speak.
My heart still beat fast, but the peace of inner wisdom held me steady, and the speech flowed.
About midway, my words came to a natural pause. There was inner and outer silence. The room of strangers and I were held in the words of wisdom; we’d laughed, some had cried, and there was just a beautiful natural pause of pure silence.
No one moved. The barrier between me and them was no more – there was only love.
After the talk, many thanked me, but I was the one most grateful for this truth: deeper than the surface of many different separate wells, there is one water. A shared self that is love, peace and wisdom.
They helped me know this. Fear could not survive this clear seeing.
Over my long career, wisdom has helped me stand on many stages around the world, delivering heartfelt speeches.
I tell you this so that you know what’s possible when you build your Wisdom Well and find clear seeing from your inner wisdom.