Tales for Our Times-How A Kindly Old Man Helped Jessica Overcome Her Public Speaking Anxiety
Gifts of Inner Wisdom are messages from our Divine Nature. These messages are most eloquently expressed through images. As we interact with these images, we discover the wisdom, strength and unconditional love our Divine Nature provides.
In Tales for Our Times I offer you narratives drawn from my imagery work and the work of my clients in the hope that you will find the universal wisdom in these Tales both inspiring and beneficial.
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Since she could remember, Jessica had always felt frightened whenever she found herself the center of attention. No wonder she suffered from severe public speaking anxiety! Her new promotion presented a great challenge, since Jessica now needed to present her team’s sales results at monthly regional meetings.
In the days leading up to her presentations, Jessica awoke every night in a panic. Though she always managed to make it through, she felt certain that the people in the back row of the auditorium could hear her heart pounding. As daunting as she found the situation, she knew the time had come to confront her life-long fears and overcome them.
Jessica knew the root of her anxiety. Throughout her childhood her older sister Beverly had regularly teased her at the dinner table. Beverly would sing out “Jessica’s going to cry-y!” and, though Jessica struggled mightily to resist, tears inevitably coursed down her face, burning with humiliation, as the rest of the family looked on and laughed.
Unfortunately, knowing the source of her fears did nothing to dispel them. So we turned to Jessica’s Inner Wisdom for help. The image of a kindly old man appeared. He introduced himself as Joe.
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Joe explains to Jessica, “Those experiences had nothing to do with who you are. There was nothing wrong with you, at all. It was just an unfortunate situation.”
Jessica had always felt there must be something wrong with her for her family to treat her this way. She’d blamed herself for breaking down under the pressure of Beverly’s teasing.
Profoundly relieved at Joe’s words, Jessica asks, “How do I move forward?”
“Just put it aside,” he replies. “You haven’t done a thing to feel embarrassed or self-conscious about. You do not need to fear being the center of attention.”
While Jessica sees the wisdom of Joe’s words, she can’t imagine how to transform the familiar dread she’s felt for all these years. Joe offers to take Jessica back to her childhood dinner table so she can view the situation from an entirely different perspective. Jessica agrees.
The noise of five brothers and sisters talking and laughing around the table fills the air. Then Jessica’s sister, Beverly, begins chanting “Jessica’s going to cry-y.”
Everyone turns to look at the little girl. Jessica watches her six-year-old self struggling not to cry. She can feel the embarrassment and humiliation of the young child as her bottom lip starts trembling, tears pour down her face and everyone begins to laugh.
Angry, Jessica declares, “I need to be strong enough not to cry!”
“It’s not you,” Joe insists. With this, he replays the scene for Jessica the way it should have unfolded. This time, when little Jessica starts to cry the others don’t laugh. Her parents tell Beverly it’s wrong to make fun of her little sister.
“It was never your fault,” Joe assures her. “There was never anything wrong with you. You were just a little girl. You need to forgive yourself. It was your family that got it wrong.”
For the first time Jessica can clearly see that problem lay, not with her but in the situation. With Joe’s encouragement, Jessica tells her younger self that it’s normal to cry under these circumstances. The six-year-old breaks into a big grin to hear this.
Suddenly, Jessica realizes that it’s time to confront her sister. “Your words are very hurtful,” she tells Beverly. “I need an acknowledgement. This should never have happened.”
Tearfully, Beverly tells Jessica how sorry she feels. “I didn’t know how bad that hurt,” she said. “I’m never, ever going to do that to you again. I promise.” With this, the sisters hug.
The rest of the family now gathers around Jessica. They acknowledge that the teasing was wrong and shouldn’t have happened. When Jessica asks them to promise that the teasing and humiliation will never happen again, the family assures her that they will not allow it. Both the six-year-old and the adult Jessica feel reassured by her family’s caring words.
“Your mother and father cared about you,” Joe explains, “they just didn’t understand how hurtful this was for you. They didn’t know how to handle the situation. You can put it behind you now and move on.”
For the first time in her life, Jessica can to let go of the feeling that her parents never protected her because they didn’t really care about her. From the adult perspective, the little girl could see that they just didn’t know what to do. Jessica feels lighter as she releases the burden of these painful experiences and the difficult feelings they created in her.
“Remember,” Joe reminds Jessica, “that was just a moment in time. You can leave it in the past now. Never forget your worth.”
Jessica agrees, “I am who I am regardless of what’s around me.”
As he leaves, Joe encourages her, “Stay strong, because you are strong.”
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Following this session, Jessica’s fear of public speaking disappeared. The calm she felt leading up to her presentations and while delivering them astonished and delighted her. She continued to get jittery just before the time came for her to speak, but she considered this normal stage fright. After all, she reasoned, even the greatest actors use that energy to create outstanding performances.
What You Can Do
If you are plagued by irrational fears, know that they may be related to distressing events in your childhood that you may – or may not – be aware of. The most important thing to know is that, though you can never change the events of the past, you can completely transform your relationship to these experiences and thereby free yourself from the effect they are having in the present.
One of the most valuable gifts that Interactive Imagery offers is the opportunity to return to these early experiences, view them from an entirely different perspective and bring about the healing that transforms their impact on your life.
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The more we open to the unconditional love that is always there waiting for us, the more joy and equilibrium we experience in our days here on Earth.