You know when you’re not sure whether to do something…and you’re on the verge of saying no…but then a little voice in your head says ‘hang on one cotton-pickin minute, you should do this!’…so for once in your life you listen and do what the little voice told you to do…and then you sit back and wait for your life to implode?
This, in a nutshell, is how I arrived in London last weekend for the first module of my Cognitive Hypnotherapy Diploma.
Would this prove to be a life-changing decision or a seriously bad mistake? And, even more importantly, would I be forced to stand up and introduce myself to a group of 40+ strangers? (Thinking about this brings me out in a cold sweat.)
I needn’t have worried. I loved the weekend. There were no hideous introductions. And, best of all, I discovered the reason why I have such an aversion to public speaking.
Basically, my brain is a cement mixer.
Let me explain:
How can two people go on a course and one feel very comfortable about standing up to speak in front of a large group…even enjoy it (they’re patently mad)…whilst the other would much rather hide under the nearest table?
Both people are in exactly the same situation. So it’s not the situation that’s the problem. It may feel as though it’s A FACT that public speaking is scary. But some people love it. They even pay to go on courses to learn how to do it better (like I said, weirdos). Anyway, the point is, it’s not a fact.
LIFE-CHANGING POINT 1: Our interpretations create our reality
Our interpretations, beliefs and perceptions create our own particular version of reality. Everyone lives in their own unique “reality tunnel”.
In my reality tunnel large groups of people are scary and speaking in front of them is even scarier. In your reality tunnel it might be dogs or spiders that scare the living daylights out of you. In either case, both are just perceptions or illusions created by our brains (for a very good reason, which I’ll save for another time).
The reason it can be such an uphill battle to get over our fears/illusions is because we tend to build our reality tunnels out of concrete. And sadly, concrete is not renowned for its ability to change.
Here’s how it works:
If your perception is that you’re “not good enough” or “rubbish at speaking in front of people”, you brain will start collecting facts to support this. It will actively hunt out anything that reinforces this belief (“See, I stammered when my boss asked me a question”) and ignore anything that would refute it (i.e. the thousands of times you have been asked a question and your brain, vocal chords and lips all worked in perfect harmony).
This is how you apply an extra layer of concrete to your reality tunnel. And your beliefs become rock solid. If you keep doing this, in the future you’ll be even less likely to see anything other than what you were expecting to see (i.e. the fact that you’re generally rubbish).
The hypnotherapy course tutor, Mr T, says we can make our tunnels “prisons or playgrounds”. Personally, mine has a bit of a prison theme going on.
The aim over the next 10 months is to learn how to help clients (and ourselves) create better reality tunnels. In other words, IT’S TIME TO DUMP THE CEMENT MIXER.
I’ll let you know how I get on.