Nauseous, scared and vomiting at the thought of speaking in public, she is now a professional speaker.
I'm 50 years old and a clinical psychologist, meditation teacher and professional speaker. I'm the Director of the "Mindfulness Centre", in Adelaide, South Australia.
I have overcome a loss of confidence by befriending those parts of myself I didn’t want: the fears, insecurities, less than perfect health, less than perfect performance. It seems funny, but when I stopped trying to ignore or push away those aspects I didn’t want to be ‘me’, I just softened into my less than absolutely ‘enlightened’ self’ and started to look at those familiar tendencies in me as one would look endearingly at a young child frustrated at not being able to tie her shoes.
I lost my confidence very seriously after viral meningitis and encephalitis damaged my body and fried my brain. Before that I was accustomed to speaking in front of groups of people. After that I was terrified. I went to Toastmasters and just loved the incredibly supportive, structured learning environment that allowed me to learn to speak again, with a memory and mind that at that time I was not sure would ever recover. I used to tremble to get up and speak in front of 8 people. I’d feel nauseous and scared, sometimes throw up on my way there, and was almost blinded with heat from fear, and yet, I started to accept that is simply how I would feel. I started to see how bad my memory was for a while, and to learn how I needed to do some things very differently, and I felt carried and supported by every single person in the Toastmasters group, none of whom knew me, or what had happened. I only went for 12 months, yet I will feel their love and affirmation and constant support always.
What has helped me build my confidence is knowing and living my talents and passions, and coming to accept that those areas where I have always struggled are not my strengths. Simple. When I was younger I saw my strengths and passions, and also my weaknesses and dislikes. I felt compelled to spend a lot of time improving the weaknesses and challenging my dislikes. Of course, there was value in that, but perhaps it might have been kinder, more productive, and of more value, to simply revel in my passions and strengths, and seek support in the other areas.
Being confident has meant I trust that I always know I will manage whatever comes, pleasant or unpleasant. In 1995 my specialist told me that there was no anecdotal or research evidence to suggest I would ever again walk unaided, work or study. In 2004 I trekked through the Himalayas unaided, confident and strong.