Here’s a little peek into the mess of insecurity that is my shy-introvert-who-sometimes-talks-a-lot brain. This is what happens to my feelings after I talk in public — in a meeting, in a formal talk, facilitating a dialogue or a workshop, giving an interview, even asking a complicated question — pretty much every single time.
- First, there’s euphoria. This is a release of tension, fueled by relief that (at least most of) the bad things I imagined could happen, didn’t.
- That’s followed by optimism. I’m focused on next time, building on what worked. In this stage I am starting to think about what went less well, and I’m still in a forward-thinking place.
- Then, regret creeps in. My mind touches on, or returns to, something I wish I’d done a little differently. This is sometimes a super concrete thing based on tangible feedback I got in the moment. It’s sometimes a realization that something I said could be taken in a way that was different than I meant it. It is sometimes a vague feeling that maybe I talked too much, or too little, or interrupted someone, or let a tangent go on too long.
- That inevitably sends me into a trough of despair. I start second-guessing everything about it. Things that initially went well are particular targets. I doubt any positive feedback I received.
- Then, I get a grip and start developing some perspective. It usually helps a lot to remind myself that I am not the center of anyone’s experience, even in a workshop I designed, and that I should stop making it all about me. I also start thinking critically about the choices I made that I am worried about. Some, I realize, made sense. Some, I realize, need work.
- And that brings me back to an optimistic place where I can start planning for the next step.
I co-facilitated a dialogue last week and I learned SO MUCH doing it. And one of the things I learned was this – that this is what I experience and do. As I was headed into that pit of despair, I had a thought out of nowhere, “it’s okay, give it a few days and you’ll have worked through this. This stage doesn’t last.” That really helped. So I thought I would put this out in the world, in case my tangled mass of insecurities might be helpful to you all out there too.