I once heard a therapist say that shame is like an electric bulb that suddenly glows with greater intensity - an intensity triggered by a perception, thought, or memory about a perceived humiliation. For the public speaker who suffers from the effects of shame before, during, or after a talk, this reaction of extreme blushing or heat, or feeling of embarrassment, is a painful sign that you believe that others see you as being not worthy, lower than the lowest, less than nothing.
To fight the feelings by avoidance or tension only increases this devastating reaction. When you practice the TalkPower Mind/Body Program regularly, plus the following anti-shame exercise, you can eliminate the shame reaction after six months of weekly rehearsal. The peace of mind is certainly worth the effort.
When you stand in front of a group - better yet, when waiting to speak - make up your mind not to fight or resist your shame reaction. Embrace your shame. When you feel it coming over you, stay in touch with the feeling, exhale, and do your belly breathing. Breathe and relax with the shame. Breathe it in and out, letting it swell and grow inside of you. Breathe and surrender to the reaction of shame. Try to tolerate the feelings of shame by breathing into them. At the same time, it’s important to be aware of any pictures, memories, or thought that come up for you.
Make a commitment to work on your shame. Whenever you feel even a tinge of self-consciousness, immediately exhale, begin breathing, and relax into the sensation. Let the shame pass through you and out of you. At first this exercise is incredibly uncomfortable. Do a little bit each day. After several weeks you will find that the intensity of the shame sensation begins to diminish, and finally, disappears, as the exercise rewires your brain with new neural patterning.