I was freaking out. I was about to speak in front of 300 people and I was pacing and sweating in the hotel lobby waiting to go on stage. I had 15 minutes left of this major anxiety and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I have talked in front of countless parents over the years and had never been this nervous before. These were nice, hard-working, devoted SuperMoms waiting for an uplifting keynote address, why in the world was I WAY more nervous than ever before?
I took three deep breaths and realized the thought in my head was, “There are three times as many people here as I’m used to and they are paying me three times as much, I have to be three times as good.” Clearly this thought was not helping me but as I used this 15 minutes to work with my brain, I discovered something FASCINATING. Something that has forever changed the way I deal with my own fears and has been massively helpful for my clients. The thing we fear most, is our own tongue-lashing. We are afraid of regret, making mistakes, and being embarrassed, because of how we berate ourselves afterwards!!!
Of course I don’t want anyone to think I’m stupid or ugly but when I think about it objectively, it’s never really about what other people think. Realistically, there is probably 5% of every audience that thinks I’m a stupid lame dork. Maybe 10% of folks think I’m brilliantly amazing, and the other 85% probably don’t think much of me at all. They might say, “that was nice” or “I really liked her talk” and then go back to their lunches and their lives. What I truly feared the most, is what I would say to myself in the car on the way home.
I used to be REALLY mean to myself, (“You are such an idiot! Why did you say something so stupid? You completely blew it!”) and the worst thing I used to say to myself….”You didn’t say everything perfectly.” Yep, this funny little perfectionistic thought used to send me into a shame spiral from hell. And since it was true almost everyday, I was really good at being mean to myself.
Shame feels really heavy and dark but when we shine a light on it, we realize that thing we fear the most is the negative things we say to OURSELVES. Isn’t that so funny!? Why not just stop saying mean things to ourselves?
What if, no matter how ugly we looked, stupid or rude we sounded, what if we could have our own back? What if we could treat ourselves like our best friend would? “You tried your best” “It’s not a big deal” “You’ll get em next time” “Nobody even noticed” “Have a hug and a glass wine and things will be better in the morning.”
That day, seconds before I went on stage, I made myself a promise, that no matter what I said or did, I would have my own back. I would say nice things to myself, about myself, on the drive home. I would allow three things I could improve upon, but everything else would be compliments. When you commit to having your own back, it takes the fear away. You are FREE to try new things, make mistakes, and do things outside your comfort zone!
Answer this….”What would you attempt if you had no fear?” What might you try if you promised to compliment yourself for the effort, not the result? Where do you find yourself being proud or jealous of others? If you did what they were doing, what would you say to yourself?
Once my clients realize that their greatest fear is their own tongue-lashing, they learn how to be supportive of themselves. When you can be nice to yourself, you have nothing to fear. Regrets, failure, embarrassment don’t even exist! With this tool in their back pockets, my clients have taken on many scary and amazing things like moving to another country, going for that promotion, leaving a bad relationship, taking a vacation by themselves, asking for a raise, committing to a new relationship, starting a business, exercising for the joy of it, sometimes, even something as scary as slowing down, stop taking care everyone else, and just remembering how to play.
Commit to having your own back, no matter what, and see where it takes you.