Step into your mental time machine, and go back to 1985. Watch as little Johnny, age 3, dances into a room of adults singing, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” Little Johnny is having a wonderful time. Fast forward to 2015. Now, grown-up Johnny is thinking about turning down a promotion that he’s worked very hard to get, because it means he’ll have publicly speak to groups of adults. (He was scared that people would be looking at him!) Wondering desperately how he could remove his fear of public speaking, hypnosis came to mind. Johnny was willing to try almost anything.
So what happened between 1985 and 2015? Obviously Johnny was not born with the fear of public speaking. It was something that he learned. Perhaps it was an unpleasant experience in front of a room while he was presenting. Or, it could be that he became afraid of public speaking because he knew other people who were deathly afraid, and he picked up on their fear.
Most people have had the experience of outgrowing a fear. A childish fear of the dark may fade over the years, for example. Outgrowing or removing a fear is a natural ability of the mind. And, the hypnosis, or more properly, the hypnotherapy, that helped Johnny become comfortable speaking to groups drew upon those natural mental functions.
Before the hypnosis session, Johnny imagined his audience being very critical. In his mind’s ear he imagined them saying things like, “Johnny is really stupid”. In his mind’s up eye he saw them looking at him with disgust and throwing rotten fruit and folding chairs at him. No wonder that the mere idea of speaking to a group of 200 people would make his boots shake.
While in hypnosis, Johnny imagined watching another person, who had mediocre speaking skills, present some excellent information at a business conference. And, as he watched, Johnny noticed that he wanted that other person to do a good job. When the other person did a good job in their presentation everyone benefited. So Johnny found himself thinking supportive thoughts. Johnny joined in the polite applause at the end of that other person’s presentation. And, as Johnny imagined his audiences being equally supportive, and equally appreciative of his efforts, his fears faded away completely.
Because hypnosis can be used to amplify emotions, during his session Johnny was directed to bring to mind a number of times when he got applause and appreciation for presentations that he had done. And the emotions that he felt those times were amplified and linked to the thought of public speaking.
Johnny decided to take his promotion. He now is doing an excellent job of confidently communicating to audiences that include his coworkers, and even the big boss.