I’ve never shared this secret with anyone, but I had such a big fear of public speaking that a couple of years ago, I sought the help of a psychiatrist to help me overcome that fear.
At the time, it was part of my job to present to a crowd of approximately 80 people on a monthly basis. The ironic thing is that the feedback from my boss was that colleagues loved my presentations and so, at every opportunity, she would volunteer my name to present.
I hated it. I hated it so much. I couldn’t sleep. I was sick the night before. It became so bad that for one whole week every month before the meeting, I was a nervous wreck.
So I started to see a psychiatrist.
It’s not like the movies. I didn’t get to lie on my back and talk about my feelings. He didn’t have a soothing voice and a notebook and pen. In fact, it was tough. He gave me homework to do!
The biggest question he taught me to ask myself is: Is it true?
So when I worry that people will laugh at me, I ask “Is it true?” No, they won’t. They’re even more terrified of standing up and presenting than I am. It’s a fear that majority of humans have.
When I think I will forget my words and people will judge me, I ask, “Is it true?” No. I have never forgotten my words and if I do, it’s fine. Move on.
It’s not so much as overcoming the fears, but being in control of my anxiety and stress.
When I look back now, I realise just how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come.
Yes, I still feel incredibly nervous when I have to speak in front of people. I have come to terms with the fact that this is only natural and will never go away. It’s good to have that rush of adrenaline.
If I thought I was being treated for a fear of public speaking, I was mistaken. In the end, I landed up learning the skill of trusting myself and not allowing that horrible little voice in my head to convince me of things that don’t exist. You see, sometimes you need to stop running and face those fears.