Could you ever become so nervous that you could not announce your own name? Does that sound insane? Well it happened to a friend of mine. She is a highly educated woman, who is now in her late forties, and in a recent workshop she started crying when she was asked her name. They asked her to write it down but she was shaking so hard that she could not even write. I asked her what had taken her into such a state and she said that as confident as she was with things that she was good at, she had just walked into a class with no idea of what she was going to do. That little voice in her head, the saboteur, told her that she was not good enough and that she needed to get out. A conflict ensued between running away and the fact she had paid a huge amount of money which spiralled into anxiety and absolute nervousness. Her adrenal triggered all her fear responses and overwhelmed her which resulted in her crying. In truth, I was stunned because she is an amazing woman who previously had been a top sales person. Her story really made me think.
So what is it that really makes us nervous? What is it that drives to react like that? There have been times when I have been teaching creating writing and people have become so nervous about reading out their work that their mouths dried up. Luckily I have not had anyone cry yet, or descend into a meltdown. The situation is more common than we think and in preparation for such an event I realised I wanted to be prepared and have an action that make such a situation easier. Some people say take deep breaths. Others say focus on something outside of yourself whereas I realised that I had my own coping strategy, which had become automatic. When I am in a stressful situation, one that is outside of my comfort zone, I observe the voice in my head, the one that says I can’t do it and listen from an objective perspective. I then ask myself whose voice is it – who taught me to think like that? I then tap into my rebellious nature and say to myself, thank you for trying to protect me from ridicule but I am going to do whatever is making me nervous anyway because I will push my limit. Admittedly I wasn’t always like that. Many times in the past I would run and regret it. It was then that I came to the conclusion that life was too short to hinder myself, criticise myself or sabotage myself. So the technique is simple, listen, observe, reflect and say ‘bollocks!’
As for my friend, we laughed about her situation because we had hindsight and I asked her to spell out her name in YMCA style dancing. I hummed in my most out of tune capacity. If you are nervous there is nothing better than a blooming good laugh to alleviate it! You will be pleased to hear that in the future should she start crying she now has a very elaborate dance to spell out her name!