In a recent talk about self-awareness, I gave an example of my own experience with being aware.

Preparing for the talk really surprised me. About four days before, I began to feel a heightened pressure in my chest. As time passed, I began to recognise a nervousness quite unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I put these feelings down to normal nerves before giving a talk. Except that these feelings got worse and worse. I couldn’t figure out why.

Two days before the talk, I decided to make sense of these odd feelings.

Calling on my emotional well being experience, I first looked to identify and name the emotions I was feeling. I journaled:

Ok, nerves, nervousness, trepidation, excitement… oohhhh fear.

What the … fear?!

That made no sense to me. How could I be feeling fear?

I’ve given loads of talks to random strangers countless times and haven’t experienced this kind of emotional response. So, what’s different this time? Ohhhh… I know many of the audience members. Many of them work here or work with me in some capacity.

I actually give a shit about their opinion.

And with that, I came to see that it didn’t matter what self-assessment I made about my capability to speak. I was to speak to a room full of people whose opinions I actually care about.

With a room full of strangers there’s a dissociated, disconnected experience from what I’m saying and the actual opinion of the audience. Of course, I care that they learn and have a good experience, but I care a great deal more for the people who know me and who hold me to a high standard.

To deliver a new talk, with new content, and feel the need to refer to my notes as I knew I’d need to, made me assess myself as somehow less competent. Which was evidently a load of hogwash when it came to present but at the time, it was affecting me a lot.

In the dawn hours of the day before the talk, I worked out why this was something causing me considerable fear and it boiled down to the same thing I’d say to my clients – I needed to be honest with myself and with the audience about the newness of the new idea.

It was this self-awareness process that enabled me to release all pressure and heightened expectations and just enjoy speaking again. Had I not taken the micro-moments to hone in on the emotions I was feeling and what the noise in my head was saying I wouldn’t have learned what was limiting me from the success I delivered in the talk.

Self-awareness, when practised daily, is a remarkable tool for changing how you cope with the challenges life throws your way.

Your EQL Coach,