Everything You Want Is On The Other Side Of Fear

Oct 15 2019

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: I pinched this from Facebook / The Mindful Life

I've never been one to shy away from the borders of my comfort zone, but this TED talk malarky has reached another level on the beyond-my-comfort-zone-o-meter! In just over a month, on the 17th November, I will stand alone on the Bristol Old Vic main stage and tell my story to a bunch of strangers. It will be filmed live and will exist on the internet for the rest of time.

Lately, I've been noticing how pressure and fear are causing my teeth to clamp together, my shoulders to hunch and my breath to shorten. Sweaty nightmares of lost lines, bored audiences and clothing malfunctions have been violently jolting me out of my sleep.

Then why am I putting myself through this? You might ask.

1.) I'm putting myself through this because I have experienced a series of profound learnings throughout my life. These experiences have formed the basis of my teaching. My teaching work seems to be getting great results; my students are reporting that skills gained in my classes are helping them into deeper connection with family, friends, colleagues, patients, students, audiences and themselves. (Mega thanks to all those who filled out my survey to tell me about how my workshops have impacted you.) Word of mouth is spreading like wildfire and I can no longer keep up with demand. I'm putting myself through this so that more people can get access to my teachings.

2.) I'm putting myself through this because my inner critic is currently being quiet enough to let me have this space. Our years of intense negotiations have led us into a clearing. My critic has grown bored of holding me in the dark scary forest of shame. We're both bored of the forest – we know every inch of it now, which means it no longer has the debilitating impact it used to. My critic has finally decreed that perhaps it's OK if people can see and hear me. Besides, he's been hankering after a holiday for years. He pops back from time to time, just to show me his tan and help me edit my script. He's got a great eye for continuity.

3.) I'm putting myself through this is because I owe it to my students. I'm continuously honoured by the privilege of my position as therapist-teacher. I get to see into people's hearts and souls and their courage to be vulnerable moves me every single time. So now it's my turn.

But what support have I got in place? Thanks for asking.

I've got absolutely loads of support. Team Bristol TEDx have been amazing – they've been leading all 15 of us speakers through a process of script development and public speaking coaching. They've helped me focus my script towards telling my story, with a series of 'take-homes' woven in along the way. They've slashed my stats and data, advising me that other people are doing that stuff– but no-one is telling my story. 

I'm now on draft 5 of my script. I've tried each draft out on audiences of friends and friends of friends so I can feel how it flows and get feedback from actual real people with actual real ears and hearts. They're mostly all saying the same thing as TED; “We just want to hear your story.” So be it. Even though I feel vulnerable, exposed and terrified, there's clearly something I have to contribute...

You can book tickets to The Bristol TEDx live event; Reflect Rethink Reboot here. I'm on in the 3pm show. I'll post a link to the video as soon as it's out. 

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