Friday, June 20, 2008

Fear not

Most people who meet me professionally assume I'm always the way I present myself when in an office or networking environment -- bubbly, positive, outgoing, confident.

Though I'd love it if that were the case, I have to admit that I sometimes allow myself to become swallowed by fear. It's not always a specific fear, mind you, but just an overall feeling of impending doom (a wonderful phrase coined by my dear friend Susan.)

Working from my home exacerbates the "fear factor", I believe. When your sole colleague is just shy of 5, you don't have many opportunities for deep water-cooler discussions. I can tell him, "Mommy's just having a rough morning," and his answer is, "I'll kiss you. Are you better now?" And though I'm touched, I'm not necessarily moved to action.

Ironically, I gave a motivational talk on Wednesday night to a group of about 150-200 people. (Yes, I love public speaking -- the more audience members, the better!)

The topic?

Overcoming Fears.

(As a side note, I wasn't talking about rational fears; those are important to our survival. Instead, I focused on fears that aren't based on anything real but are ways we trap ourselves into self-made "boxes".)

The presentation went very well, and many people told me afterward they were inspired to try something new, something different, something uncomfortable. The experience was a blast and I was thrilled to hear several attendees' personal stories after the speech was finished.

Today, I'm feeling a bit shaky. There's no one reason for this sudden lack of confidence. But there it is.

I guess I need to listen to my own advice and keeping moving forward. But I'd rather listen to advice from you, my "virtual" office mates.

What do you do when you're suddenly seized by unfounded fears?


Mary Witzl said...

Yoga breathing: it's gotten me through many a panicky moment. But I also believe in intuition; when I feel that sense of impending doom, I tend to stay at home and look after myself and those around me. This might help or it might not, but it comforts me. When my sister feels a sense of impending doom I get really nervous: she has had dreams that have come true on several occasions.

What you write is fascinating. My husband tends to be depressive and shy, but as a teacher his persona was big and bouncy, friendly and outgoing. He can speak in front of hundreds of people with confidence and clarity but be miserable at a party. I'm pretty good at parties but my legs go wobby in front of large crowds. I have spoken in front of crowds -- several hundred on a few occasions -- but it is a hellish experience for me and I do better with beta blockers.

We all create a personality that we want others to believe in. I think we need to do this in order to survive. But I also think it is good to stay in touch with the person inside; not to lose sight of what we feel.

You're part of my virtual office too! I've got my kids (sometimes), my husband (at certain hours) and my cat. And that's it! I miss talking to my co-workers...

The Quoibler said...


Hey, office mate! :)

I just have to ride it out, too, sometimes. One day I thought for sure I was having a premonition of something "about to come", but nothing ever did. My mother, however, has premonitions and dreams that have come true. YIKES.

I am actually quite outgoing, including at smaller parties and events. But I just sometimes find myself seized with fear. I'm starting to ride out of this weird phase today, but I still have a little bit of the gnawing. Yuck.

What did you speak about to the crowds? Was it abroad or in the U.S.? Just wondering...


Hoodie said...

There are some days that you have to give yourself credit for breathing.

I'm all too familiar with irrational fears. Sometimes I could feel the "box" coming on like I was riding a raft and could see rough waters ahead. When that happens you just hold on tight, grit your teeth and keep breathing.

I find that on those days, it's helpful to give myself more credit for the little things and try not to feel guilty in small indulgences. It passes.

Mary Witzl said...

I taught large groups of EFL and ESL students, in Japan and in America. In Japan, I also gave a few presentations on teaching, the last one being in Kobe (before the earthquake), and I was forced to make speeches when I spent a year at a Japanese university -- pure hell. The very first time I had to do this, I fainted dead away. When my eldest was a baby, I was asked to MC at a Japanese-Welsh cultural conference in Wales. I'm still amazed that I said yes. And that I remained conscious throughout.

I hope you get through your phase. Yoga breathing really has helped me! How interesting that your mother has premonitions that come true, too... I agree with what Hoodie says: some days you have to give yourself credit just for breathing.