“I’m in Form 5 and I lack the confidence to speak in public. My teachers have said that even though I’m smart, I need to speak up more because communication skills are vital in today’s world. It’s not that I don’t want to; my brain just freezes when I’m in front of a group.”
Do you know that the No 1 fear in the United States is public speaking? It ranks higher than death! Irrational fears, or phobias, are “caught” usually when we’re young (between 2 – 7years.) An event occurs that cements two situations and strong emotions are felt – in your case perhaps you were speaking in front of others and your father mocked you… then there are feelings of embarrassment, fear, humiliation, insult, etc..
It all happens in a split second, but the imprint is so powerful that the experience becomes encapsulated in our psyche and can last a lifetime. The good news is, as we can learn, we can also unlearn. A good therapist will take you back to the time when the initial event occurred and replace what happened, with a more positive meaning. The new feeling when superimposed over the old; will reduce the unpleasantness of the original experience.
Our brains are miraculous organs. But you know what? We’re superior. We can control our brain! What you need to do is to keep asking yourself, “What does speaking in public mean to me?” Give the most ordinary answers i.e. “talking to my friends.” Before that, set some rules. Tell yourself, “Mistake-making is part of learning.” Say, “Whatever I say, will be my best answer for this time.”