Overcoming #1 Fear: 3 steps to Speaking Up with Heart
3 easy steps!
We’ve all heard that speaking in public is the #1 fear reported in most surveys about fears and phobias. For most people, it ranks above fear of failure and fear of death. To me, fear of public speaking is an extension of a deeper issue: fear of speaking from the heart.
What if you had no fear of speaking from your heart, not just in public, but in your relationships, at work and even in those day to day interactions that contain small (or large) annoyances, like someone crowding in front of you in a line, being treated rudely by a store clerk or being ignored?
Unless you are professional speaker, the issue of addressing the public doesn’t come up very often but every single day of our lives we face the choice of speaking authentically from our hearts or just talking from our heads. Obviously, being able to speak intelligently and knowledgably when we’re conveying information and facts is a key life skill. But so is, when the situation warrants, being able to speak with passion, compassion, authenticity and the expression of our true feelings. This is what I call “speaking from the heart”.
Many of my clients come to me because they know they’re missing out on deeper connections with others as well as themselves. They talk about a sense of disconnect which sometimes is accompanied by descriptive words like “mind chatter”, “numbness”, “loneliness” and “being stuck”.
I’m passionate about making a heart-based connection with people because I know how differently life flows and feels when you’re authentically coming from your heart. A heart-based connection with people really matters. From this place, our relationships expand, we brighten people’s lives and when an issue arises that needs addressing, small or large, we end up speaking from a very different place of compassion and understanding, both for ourselves and for others.
The comfort zone of the head:
For most of us, we’re comfortable with head-talking, meaning, sharing what we think, what we’ve learned and what we observe about people, situations and life in general. Most of the time during these exchanges, our judgments and beliefs are running in the background and our heart takes a back seat. By the time we realize that something’s missing, we’ve usually been operating this learned-behavior for years, if not decades.
I was in that position myself a few years ago as we started to film my portions of the documentary where I wanted to share my heart healing journey as part of the film. I was a little nervous during our shoot, but, I figured “no problem, I’ll just get in front of the camera and start sharing my ideas.” But I found out very quickly, after seeing myself in the first edits of the film, that while I was talking about my experiences, I wasn’t conveying anything other than a “talking head expert”, frozen in my expression and looking pretentious and sort of fake. (At least that’s how I saw it!)
If you’ve seen the film, you know from the first two minutes of the prologue, we had to stop filming for several months. I needed to figure out what was really going on inside of me so that I could be on camera and be comfortable, animated and authentically connected to my own heart!
Now, I use a simple, three step process to get in the zone to “speak from my heart”. I still need to do this because my habit of head-based speaking lingers, especially in times of conflict or stress.
A before and after example of head vs heart-based conversation
I’ll give you a before and after example of head-based vs heart-based speaking.
Last week, I was having a phone conversation with my sister who lives 1,000 miles away. I was talking to her about an important decision I need to make and wanted her input. After about 3 minutes, I noticed she was responding in a automatic way, vs really listening. We all feel this, even on the phone, when the other person starts saying, “yeah, uh huh, ok” etc. I could tell she was focusing on something else.
In response to her disconnect, before, I would have shut down and said nothing to her. But internally I would have been saying to myself, “she doesn’t care.” I would have wrapped up the call, saying, “talk to you later.” Then I would have distracted myself from my true feelings by judging and criticizing her, and finally reminding myself of one of my old childhood beliefs (unconsciously running the show!) “No one will help me, I have to do it alone.” Does that sound familiar to you?
As long as my heart was shut down, that old pattern “ruled the roost”, so to speak.
After learning how to open, heal and empower my heart, the situation actually unfolded this way. I was aware of my sister’s focus getting divided and so I actually took a heart-centered breath, checked my coherence, and asking myself internally “What’s really going on here?” I don’t even think she noticed I had stopped talking! Then I said: “Hey Sis, I can tell you’re busy and this might not be a good time to talk for you. I would really appreciate having your undivided attention because your advice and perspective help me a lot. When’s a good time to help me flush this out for about 15 more minutes? “ She then responded: “You’re right, I just remembered something I have to do. How about if I call you back in about an hour? I’d love to help you on this with my full attention.”
For me, there is a world of difference in the before vs after exchange. My sister and I clearly expressed our needs and felt heard and understood. When we hung up, I spent a few moments genuinely appreciating her and feeling our heart-connected even though we were no longer on the phone!
The benefit of heart-based speaking
This is just a small example, but when you apply this to all situations in your life, there is a richness and depth to life itself. This is exactly what Mary Morrissey, our film narrator means when she says in the film, “Living from the heart doesn’t just change how you feel about life, it changes your life itself!”
With two big speaking engagements coming up this month (see info at the right), I will have a chance to really hone in on this skill some more in front of an audience!
The 3 step process for heart-based speaking:
Here is my three-part process for speaking from the heart:
#1: Coherence. Take a heart-centered breath and get coherent! This is one step for me now that I’ve been using HeartMath’s tools for a few years. Taking a heart-centered breath means just focus one or two breaths in your heart, as if you are breathing through your heart itself. Anyone can do this, it just takes practice. You can easily learn how to get into physiological coherence where your nervous system is in balance through your heart, which controls 95% of your bodily functions. When you are in physiological coherence, your emotions and thoughts are aligned and in synch. And in this state, your intellectual and intuitive functions are working optimally. (See my previous blogs about more information on HeartMath research tools. Also, I offer private HeartMath coaching as a licensed coach and trainer if you’d more individual instruction. www.modernmastery.com )
#2: Connection. Take a moment a moment and ask yourself: “What’s really going on here? What do I need or what does the person I am communicating with really need?” In a state of coherence, I can tap into this in a second or two, because my wisdom and intuition is coming from my heart. And our hearts are our most powerful organ of the body in terms of our connection to others. In the film, Dr.Rollin McCraty of HeartMath describes why this is scientifically proven fact. In my observations in using this technique, what is usually going on is a feeling from one person or the other that someone “doesn’t care”. As a society this uncaring feeling undertone has become rampant and it’s what drives the “me first” and selfishness syndrome that results in the interactions I mentioned at the beginning of the article. This leads to step 3.
#3: Caring. Whatever I intuit about the situation, I say to myself (sometimes touching my heart briefly for a deeper connection), “I care”. Just saying those two words internally can shift us into a place of heart-based connection, deeper compassion and authentic expression of our feelings and our thoughts. And when we come from this place, we have no fear of speaking from our hearts. When we speak up in this way, we truly live in an awareness of our commonality and connection and our communication is empowered and authentic. To me, that’s what it’s all about!