Yesterday I gave a talk at the International Coach Federation Global Conference in Prague. It was a talk unlike anything I’d ever given to an audience before, sharing some deeply personal stories and lessons from falling in love for the first time, and what I learned about creating trust and intimacy in relationships. I was so excited to give the talk. I’d thought about it in depth, considered the audience, practiced, got feedback, developed it more. I was so ready. I’d talked to a lot of people at the conference about it, had positive comments, and many had mentioned they were intrigued by the title of the talk – how I became a better coach after falling in love.
It went pretty well, the audience were engaged, I told the stories well, I shared deeply and vulnerably, I got some lovely questions and reflections at the end, I made someone cry…in a good way. And we celebrated last night, a great dinner, lots of wine, happiness and pride.
Great. That’s done, right?
Well no. Because this morning I woke up feeling horrible. Exhausted, upset, frustrated, angry, ashamed. So many things running through my head.
Shame about the size of the audience – for all the enthusiasm in people I’d spoken to I’d had an audience of perhaps 40 in a conference of 1500. “No one wants to hear you talking about you, you don’t matter, nobody cares.” That’s the voice in my head by the way. Judgment about my talk, the topic, the title, the content, my bio and experience. “How self-absorbed are you, there’s no value for anyone else in that talk, what a colossal act of vanity, you are irrelevant, you aren’t a good speaker”. There’s that voice again…
And so it went on. Comparisons to other speakers, why had they had such large audiences and so much praise and I hadn’t? I must really be pretty average. Feeling let down by people who had said they’d be there and didn’t turn up. Wishing I’d chosen a different title. Wondering if the whole thing had been a massive waste of time. Thinking maybe I should give up on this whole speaking thing.
I’ll be honest, writing all of this down in so much detail is for my own catharsis right now, and includes a hefty dose of self pity – if you’re still reading, thank you! Sometimes you just need to get some of this crud out of your head to somewhere else in order to process it.
Because deep down I know none of it is true. It’s a perfect example of one thing I was talking about yesterday – being willing to be uncomfortable. The discomfort doesn’t stop when we stop – we have to keep being with it when that voice in our heads is using all the discomfort as a reason we should never, ever do anything like this again. It’s also perfect that the other theme I talked about was falling in love with yourself – that’s not just when things are going well, it’s all the time. Especially when they aren’t. That’s when self love looks like forgiveness, self care, allowing all the feelings but not being taken over by them.
So for today, I’m going to allow all the feelings, and practice some self care. There’s a lot I can learn from this experience, and I will take the time to really do that – and today isn’t the day for that, and that’s OK.