I’d rather be shot at dawn than play a game of Pictionary. Sure, it’s supposed to be a fun game, lighthearted and full of endless, squealing delight, but here’s the deal. I donâ€™t draw. Not publicly, not privately. Not ever.
Because long ago and far away I decided that I was no good at drawing or painting or anything that resembled visual art. I’m not sure when or why I made this decision, but I did. And as a result, I don’t draw. Or, rather, I wonâ€™t draw.
Yet to this day, I envy people who can draw or paint. My friend, Jim, for example, and Tony Bennett, both who paint amazingly well and love doing so. And I’ve always thought it would be a blast to be a cartoonist. But there is no way that I will allow myself to even experiment, because my internal script says “Nope. No way. Canâ€™t do it.”
We all have these internal scripts we’ve written for ourselves, scripts that define the character we call “I” or “me.” And from what I can tell, these scripts are based on certain decisions we’ve made about ourselves as we’ve bopped along on this journey of life. The longer we travel, the longer we recite our internal scripts without ever stopping to question if we like our lines or if this character is who we really are.
So, let me ask you now, what script have you written for yourself in regards to speaking or performing in public? Does your internal script say, “Oooo, I love to speak in front of groups! It’s a total blast! And I’m really good at it.” or does it say, “Public speaking sucks. I hate it. And besides, I’m no good at it.” Whatever your script is, it’s based on a decision you’ve made about yourself at some point along the way. Like my decision that I’m no good at drawing and therefore I can’t (wonâ€™t) do it.
There is nothing wrong with the scripts we’ve written for ourselves. They help us define who we are in this life. And much of what we’ve written is positive, strong and helpful. Scriptwriting only becomes a problem when what we’ve written keeps us from “living into our greatness,” as Kim George says, or keeps us from having what we truly want for ourselves. Or keeps us in a small, less than supporting role in our own lives.
So, when you listen at your own internal script around expressing yourself in public, do you like what you hear? Is it allowing you to live into the fullness of who you really are, or is it keeping you safe and small behind a boundary of excuses?
A script can sound like this: â€œIâ€™m too shy.â€ â€œOh, my voice doesnâ€™t project loud enough.â€ â€œNo one wants to hear what I have to say anyway.â€ I really donâ€™t have anything to say.â€ â€œIâ€™ll just make a fool of myself.â€ â€œI donâ€™tâ€™ know what Iâ€™m doing.â€ â€œIâ€™ll forget what Iâ€™m supposed to say.â€ â€œItâ€™s just not for me.â€ â€œMy speech teacher in high school told me I should stick to writing.â€ You get the idea. Perhaps your internal script is a variation on one of these or perhaps it’s something different, but you do have one. We all do.
Anytime I conduct a Unconditional Confidence workshop, it never fails. A participant will take their turn to speak in front of the group and will end up mesmerizing everyone with their honest, natural charm and authenticity. But when I ask that same person about how they felt about how they did, they launch off into a list of negative judgments, like “Oh, I couldn’t stay focused and I didn’t know what to say, and I’m sure I said “um” too muchâ€¦”
This list of judgments always echos this person’s internal script. Always.
It doesnâ€™t matter if the rest of the group showers this person with tons of positive feedback. They canâ€™t receive it or give it credence because their internal script is shouting a different story. This is where our scripts get in our way, keep us from moving towards what we really want and who we really are. They keep us quiet, scared and small.
But if can we can loosen our attachment to our old script and start to play with the idea of re-writing it to fit who we are becoming, who we really are in our heart of hearts, then anything is possible. You donâ€™t even have to know what your new script will be, you just need to be willing to question the pay-off for keeping the old one around.
What would happen if you let go of the script that says you always get nervous or distracted when you speak in public? Or the one that says no one wants to hear what you have to say? Or the one that says youâ€™re not as interesting or as knowledgeable as you should be? What if you let the old script go and start drafting a new one, one that would allow you to live out loud, fully and fearlessly?
When Kim George writes about scriptwriting in her book, â€œCoaching Into Greatness,â€ she says:
â€œItâ€™s all a great big story â€” a bunch of hooey thatâ€™s defined by a big pile of â€œshouldsâ€ that sit on an even bigger pile of â€œcanâ€™ts.â€
Whatâ€™s the script you recite to yourself about speaking in public? Is it moving you closer to your dreams and goals or does it have you stuck in a trench of excuses and old habits of thought? Itâ€™s okay, whatever it is.
But if youâ€™re feeling a little typecast by your present script, if the lines in your head donâ€™t fit the dream in your heart, then just know you can rewrite your script any time you want. Because it belongs to you. You are the writer, director and star in your own story, so write yourself a masterpiece that is worthy of who you really are.