Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living in better conditions.
-Hafiz, Sufi poet
I almost failed speech in college. I got a D in public speaking. And my other grades where low too because of my fear of speaking up in class. I was terrified to raise my hand to ask or answer a question, even when I knew the answer. Yet, for the past twenty-plus years I have had a professional speaking career.
For one, it was my passion to share my message with the world. After my wife’s death, and seeing how her sense of humor helped me get through those trying times, I devoted my life to teaching others about the therapeutic value of humor. To do this, I had to overcome my fear of public speaking, one of the major fears people have.
Fear is a powerful force that prevents us from facing challenges in our life, from moving forward, and even from doing the things we enjoy. Even the biggest names in the world have to deal with their fear. Did you know, for example, that Barbra Streisand did not perform in front of a live audience for over twenty-years because of her performance anxiety?
Do I get nervous when I get up to speak? You are darn right I do. But I’ve learned to focus on my message and a positive outcome. I am determined not to let the fear get in my. The most important thing I learned was that I could feel the fear and do it anyway.
To overcome one of your fears, you might want to try this activity:
Write down what fears you have that might be getting in the way of what you want to accomplish or confronting someone, or something, that is in your way.
Then write down what small steps you might take if you didn’t listen to your fear, (Remember that sometimes facing a fear seems like a monumental task but when taken in small steps it becomes doable. Writing a book, for example, might seem like an enormous task but when taken in small steps, like writing a page a day, it is not.)
MY FEARS ARE:
IF I DIDN’T LISTEN TO MY FEARS, I WOULD:
How did it feel to list your fears?
Is there something you could focus on to distract you from fear?
What could you do to prevent that fear from having the last word?
Note: The above article is excepted from my book, L.A.U.G.H.: Using Humor and Play to Help Clients Cope with Stress, Anger, Frustration, and more. (Wellness Reproductions and Publishing, 2010)