I recently worked with a client (let’s call him Todd) who was worried that, when speaking in meetings, his colleagues would notice that his hands were a bit shaky from a feeling of anxiety. It’s not hard to get at the root of this sort of problem: fear of the judgment of others. Todd plainly told me, I’m afraid to speak in front of colleagues.
We all suffer from this fear. People can sometimes be unkind, and we’ve all experienced our share of critical commentary by others. (In Todd’s case, the fear traced back to bullying he endured while in middle school.)
I always begin addressing my clients’ fears of being judged by others by talking with them about the idea that, bullies aside, our imperfections often endear us to others, who can identify based on their own sense of imperfection.
Todd had made some progress after one session, after which he had a pivotal role in the agenda for a professional meeting with a few participants whom he had never met. He saw a significant decrease in the shakiness, but did notice it happening right at the beginning of his turn in the spotlight.
After the meeting, one of the participants approached Todd to tell him that she had noticed his hands shaking at first, and confessed that she too felt nervous about speaking, so much so that she avoided it. She told Todd she admired him for doing what she herself found very difficult, and for quickly getting past it. Todd now has a new friend and supporter.
We might all learn from Todd’s story, and remember, when faced with a personal fear or weakness, to think, My imperfections humanize me and connect me to others.
You're reading the Bad Thoughts Blog, which maintains that feeling good is as simple as thinking a better thought. I'm Debbie Covino, hypnotherapist, coach, and creator of the Master Your Own Mind self-hypnosis program, available at www.hypnotic-wellbeing.com/store
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