3 steps to healing your FEAR of public speaking
Do you know what’s hiding behind your public speaking fear?
I didn’t either. I thought there was something wrong with me. Everyone seemed so comfortable and at ease -- while I struggled to speak up. And not just in public, but with friends and family, too.
But then I started to dig deeper. I became aware of how horribly women are treated and represented in society, and of how we all have our own, often traumatic, family histories.
And I began to realize that public speaking -- standing in front of others to speak (with all eyes focused on us!!) -- is a deeply triggering occurrence. No wonder we’re so scared!
Now, experts will tell you that it triggers the “ancient” part of our brain, the one that made us run in cavemen times at the sight of a predator. While this is true, I also deeply believe there are other, profound reasons at play. These reasons are unique to women and how they’ve been viewed in their families and communities.
So today I want to share a more personal post about the steps I took to identify the root cause behind my fear of public speaking, and to reclaim my voice. I’ve worked with several healing modalities, from body work to conventional therapy, but these are the main areas I looked at:
Inner Child work
When I began investigating what was causing my fear of speaking in front of others, which was really the fear of being seen and claiming my place in the world, I realized there was a deep part of me that was begging for attention. And that I had forgotten about for decades!
I realized that there still was a little girl inside of me that wanted to be seen, and heard, and wanted to express her feelings. I had to learn to listen to her, and re-parent her — somewhat of an odd process but so worth it!
If you’re ready to love your little girl up, the book I recommend to get started is Margaret Paul’s Inner Bonding.
Getting in touch with my BODY
I also quickly realized that I’d lived my life from the head up. And my profession confirmed it: I was a scholar!!! All I had to do day in and day out was think and theorize! To reverse my fear, I had to understand that there was more to me than my intellect, and I had to slowly get reacquainted with my body.
I did so through various trainings, including a 4-month program offered by Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts. That training changed my life, and I’ve been working on body awareness ever since. A good book to get started is Full Body Presence by Suzanne Durana.
Studying TRAUMA and the nervous system
Over the years I’ve come to realize that fear of public speaking (and fear of speaking up) is the result of trauma — collective, historical trauma, but also individual trauma. Trauma can be big or small, and impacts all of us in different ways. Most importantly, it doesn’t make us feel safe in our own skin.
I had to come to terms with the fact that me and my body were, in fact, traumatized. And I had to take active steps to retrain my nervous system to feel safe, and to complete the trauma response.
This is not an easy journey. It’s very painful, and it forces us to acknowledge all the darkness that exists in us. A book a HIGHLY recommend to dive into this topic is Peter Levine’s Healing Trauma.
These are the main areas I had to reclaim to understand what was lying behind my fear of public speaking, and to find my voice and get the courage to share it with the world.
It’s my hope that you take this post as a source of inspiration, and maybe order one of the books I recommend.