How I trained my brain to care less (except about gastro and serious garden tool injuries)

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Fear is a funny thing. Not funny-ha-ha-side-splitting-hilarious.


Funny-weird-and-unfathomable.


Fear is nothing.


It doesn’t exist in its own right. It’s not a thing.


It’s something that we experience as a result of something else.


There are some fears that are very common.


Some of you will know from my constant Twitterly blatheringsthat in one of my other lives I’m a freelance trainer and facilitator. This means I make my living standing up in front of strangers  and talking. And falling over equipment. And spilling things. OK so they don’t pay me for those bits; I throw them in for free because I am a clumsy idiot like to be entertaining. Cough.


The comedian Jerry Seinfeld said (and I’m quoting very roughly here) that at a funeral, most of the audience would rather be in the coffin than up giving the eulogy, such is the general fear of public speaking.


I learned to not fear it many years ago. In fact, I revel in it.


I must be batshit crazy, right?*


Especially when you consider I also have bouts of Anxiety Disorder.


I must be nuts.


It’s true that being an extrovert helps me do my job.


I like the limelight, I’m an attention hog and I like to talk.**


When I was a kid I was cripplingly shy***. Sure I wanted to be out there performing but I was too terrified to do it. What if something went wrong? What would people think? WHAT IF?!


So I was a shy extrovert, desperate to be centre stage but unable to even get up there to cower behind the curtain.


I’m still that shy kid on the inside.


I still feel anxious.


I’m still extremely hung-up delicate obsessive sensitive about how other people receive me and my work.


I just don’t let that sensitivity stop me, because I know fear is nothing. It isn’t real.


I’ve taught myself to care less.


It takes practice.


Caring less requires small steps.


Of course, being the clumsy, accident-prone arsehat that I am helps. Nothing cures you of being precious about yourself like some of the dumber shit I’ve done.****


Now I can stand up in front of as many people as you can throw at me, and talk. Tell stories, joke, share, make myself vulnerable.


Because I care less.


I’m still that scared 14 year old on the inside. I’ve just developed MAD SKILLZ that allow me to put myself out there and not give a shit.


You know all those super-confident, socially-adept, amazingly successful people you admire?


They’re all scared 14 year olds on the inside too. They just hide theirs behind mad confident socially-adept skillz.


The journey from shy child to where I am now took a long time and I had to humiliate myself many times to get here. Here’s a snapshot of the things I tell my brain to help me care less:


WHO GIVES A SHIT?!

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In a week, will what happens today matter? In a month? A year? No? Then why care now? Stop giving so much of a shit.



DON’T GIVE A FUCK


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Will anyone die if something goes wrong? No? Then why do you give a fuck? Relax and jump in.


IT’LL BE OK

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The anticipation of an event is usually far worse than the event itself. Unless you’re talking about a bad bout of gastro, or chain sawing off your own foot, in which case YEAH BE SCARED AND WHY THE HELL ARE CUTTING OFF YOUR FOOT, DUDE?!


RISK IT FOR A BISCUIT


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Sharing a little of your own vulnerability gives permission to other people to do the same and magic happens when people are open and vulnerable. Go on, take the risk. It’ll be worth it.


FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT, BABY



Nobody can see that scared 14 year old inside you. Only you know how terrified you are. Sooner or later what you do you become so go do! 


IT DOESN’T MATTER


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Cup of concrete and a straw, baby. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter. The world will keep turning.


Don’t let fear rob you of your joy and hold you back. I trained my brain to care less, and you can too.


Are there things you’re scared to do?
What’s stopping you?

* OK no need to answer that.

** A common comment on my school reports. PRESCIENT TEACHERS, PEOPLE!

*** Being shy shouldn’t be confused with being introverted, although there may be a natural correlation. Introverts prefer to not be “out there” socially. Being shy or confident can apply to either style of social style.

**** Read a random sample of my blog if you need to see evidence.

Comments

  1. The thought of going into hospital scares me so much that when I think of it I feel a panic attack start to come.
    I have had bad experiences in the past with hospitals and hate the feeling of no control and being vulnerable.
    I still remember the nurse saying to me,after my miscarriage 20 years ago and in a room full of other patients visitors,”they will be coming to take you to theatre soon for a clean out.”I was devastated at my loss and she didn’t care.I wanted to vomit and hide at the same time as eveyones eyes were burning into me.
    Just yesterday a letter came about my upcoming operation and I started to feel sick.
    I know it is silly but try as I may I cannot help it.
    I will try to read your wonderful words in this post over and over and hope they sink in.
    I shall fake it till I make it.Xx

    • Deb just remember that you – nor they – are the same as 20 years ago. You are wonderful and strong and if they’re arseholes, well, that’s their choice. It’s not silly to have a fear based on such an awful experience. Just remember that you’ve dealt with more difficult things than this, and you did well so this will be just fine.
      Everything will be OK.
      Big hugs. Mwah.

    • Thankyou my dear froggy friend.
      Your encouragement means a lot.Xx

  2. Best advice I received was from a mutual colleague (Mr Henry) when I admired how he never let work or pressure get to him. He said ‘never compare yourself to other people, they are way more fucked up than you will ever know’, and showed me his anxiety medication.
    And of course there was a wonderful young lady with purple hair that shared with me and made me realise I wasn’t alone. xxx

  3. People are scared because they’re worried about what people will think of them, especially if they make a mistake. I don’t want to make a dick of myself, fall arse over tit, stutter and stumble. People don’t want to do anything that will make them look bad in front of people.

    When the switch flicks and you get that light bulb moment that other people’s opinions of you are irrelevant to your life and people you don’t know are nothing in your life, the worry goes away.

    You no longer give a shit what other people think because they are just ships passing by on the sea of life.

    Besides, it’s rather arrogant to believe everyone is looking/laughing/worrying about you and what you do. If you understood that no one was giving a shit about you because they have their own issues to deal with, then the sooner one would get over themselves and stop being so precious about being embarrassed and looking like a dick.

    Who gives a shit if you do? Only you! Others look and move on, it’s only you that keeps the insecurity going.

    David – love your colleague’s comment!

  4. Yep, to all. Fantastic post. Loved what Lady Jewels and David had to add too :)

    I was always able to not give a shite about things like laughing loudly in public or wearing odd socks. I kind of liked how much these sorts of quirks seemed to annoy people. I find normals quite an irrit mainly because they always seem to be trying to force their beigeness on the rest of the world.

    Having been forced to public speak a few times I won’t say I love it, but am ok with it and I get that you can be anxious (having Generalised Anxiety Disorder myself) but behave in ways that seem to contradict that. Some of the finest stand up comedians nearly collapse from nerves before they go on stage. I think you would be one of the, just by the way :)

    My first line of defence is usually to treat what people say as a joke, and people’s opinions, even their outrage as amusing.

    One of the great lessons Cognitive Behavioural Therapy taught me is how little what people think of you actually matters – as has been said here :) Unless they are your boss and sack you, or your husband and leave you – to give two extreme examples. Even those would be sad and upsetting but not the end of the world.

    I am very aware of catastrophic vocabulary in my thoughts and words. No, it’s not terrible, awful, appalling, just inconvenient most of the time. But it can take practice to grab our unconscious thoughts and be aware of them, instead of driving yourself from within with mental whips.

    When it comes to the opinions of others most people go through a mental process something like: “Oh no! She knows I said blah blah blah. She’s going to tell everyone!” Rational inner response – yep – so what? “Well, she’ll hate me! They won’t invite me to blah de blah” Possibly, so what? “Well, I’ll be sad” Why? “People will hate me” You don’t know that, you’re indulging in mind reading again, truthfully you have no idea what they are thinking, and again, so what if they do? How will this affect you? “Well, I’ll be sad” Only if you choose to make yourself feel sad. Or you can just say I know that their opinion cannot harm me, I can only harm myself.

    That’s very simplified, but you get the idea, the rational person has to effectively challenge the irrational, anxious person. And mind reading is very very common, we are all guilty of imagining others are thinking badly of us when they are probably actually wondering if their arse looks fat or what to make for dinner. And it’s never letting yourself feel bad about what others think, you actually are the one who makes yourself feel bad about what others think. They can’t make you feel a damn thing, you do all that to your own sweet self.

    Anyway, this is nearly a fucking blog in itself, sorry sweets! But CBT really did change my life and my way of thinking and I tend to get all excited about sharing it. Also, I just like to talk. I was lucky to have a psychologist who explained it in a way that I got it.

    Bottom line, I am still a fucked up wreck of a person, but at least I’m not constantly mentally berating myself about it :D
    xox

    • Did you just say I could be a stand-up comedian?!

      That’s it, this is LOVE ;-)

      Yes I use catastrophic language too. I love a good bit of hyperbole!

      CBT is pretty damn great when you get a good shrink.

      No need to apologise for the length of the comment. Oh. Wait. Hey you, pesky kid, get off my dang blog! ;-)

      xxxxx

    • Yes I did. From what I have read of your work and your words elsewhere, you’d be hilarious :)

  5. I am a shy introvert who taught herself to ace public speaking and corporate training. I know all the tricks now and can do a pretty good job.

    I was most terrified of being alone and life promptly delivered me what I was afraid of – sole parenting. It sucks donkey’s balls. And it was horrible to start with and I cried constantly. Now it’s my new normal. I don’t love it, but I get by and know that I’ve conquered by greatest fear.

  6. When I finished work (albeit temporarily) I planned to try to get some freelance writing and blogging work. I have gotten some in the 4mths, but am yet to actually approach anyone myself or pitch ideas etc.

    Too scared of the rejection I suspect. Or just too scared to try!

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