Some fears are irrational. Some fears are based on superstition. And some fears have a real reason. Maybe you’re afraid of swimming in a deep pool after a near-drowning incident. Maybe you burned yourself while cooking and now fire scares you. Or maybe you embarrassed yourself onstage and now you speak with fear.
If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’re afraid of public speaking and presenting. After all, it’s the #1 fear Americans have. So you might have a story, a reason why you have this fear.
But have you cleaned your wound yet?
As a kid, I played hard. It was common for me to get cuts on my knees, get back up, and play harder. I was a daredevil. I was an explorer. I was crazy.
Each time I injured myself, my Mom would eventually see me poking my knee, elbow, shin, or another area in pain. Her questions would lead to exposing my wound. “Mike! This is infected!” I don’t know how many times I heard that growing up. Too many! My mom would jump up and get the first aid kit. She would drag me to the bathroom and painfully clean my cut. She was merciless. She insisted on rubbing out all the dirt and sterilizing my cut. At times, she scrubbed while scolding me of the dangers of rusty metal or filthy streets. Only after she probed my pain did she apply neosporin and band-aids.
You would think I would learn, but I didn’t. I just kept injuring myself and tried to move past it.
Many people ignore their pain and run from their hurt. I see it again and again. People walk around with barely-disguised limps, bandages bleeding through, or makeup to cover infections. Some are hurt so badly that their wounds causes them to react hysterically if you get near. And just as we cover up emotional wounds, we cover up past public speaking wounds. No matter how much you cover an infected wound with bandages, clothes, or makeup, the wound will still be there. To effectively move past it, you need to clean it first.
If you want to uncover your page, ask yourself the following question: what is the root cause of your fear? Have you been embarrassed in public? Have you been put on the spot when you weren’t ready? Were you bullied? Are you concerned with being a people person? Was your most humiliating moment something to do with people noticing your mistakes, failures, or weaknesses?
My bestselling book, Speak With No Fear, gives you seven strategies to fight your speaking and presenting fears. This is the beginning of the first strategy – to uncover the wound. Otherwise, every bad experience will compound, further “infecting” the wound and making your fear heavier.
In the next blog in this series, we’ll work on cleaning your speaking wound, learning to repurpose the pain, and looking through the bad and finding the good therein.
If you haven’t bought a copy of my book already, you can do so here.
– Mike Acker
President of ADVANCE