Today, I interview Marti MacEwan who says that although she was a successful speaker, there was a lack of satisfaction after speaking because there was a lingering fear of those eyes on her and the opinions of her audience. No amount of reassurance helped.
Marti learned to refocus her energy and was able to overcome stage fright by shifting her awareness and her expectations.
Marti who is a professional counselor and “Stage Fright Coach” had some fear of public speaking – the “normal” insecurity and nerves. But when she started to learn to sing solo, she had a complete meltdown. She had no idea where that panic was coming from, why it happened when it did, or what to do about it.
Figuring out how to be free of her “fear of public singing” led her to develop the Stage Fright Cure and a professional specialty of helping others be free of their fear of speaking or performing in any setting. She has helped musicians, speakers, leaders, writers, business people and professionals be free of the limiting effects of stage fright.
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Transcript of Interview
FIND YOUR VOICE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE PODCAST
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #20 “Marti MacEwan”
“KNOW YOUR ENERGY, SING YOUR SONG”
Dr. Doreen Downing [00:39]
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m the host of the podcast, FIND YOUR VOICE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I invite guests who had some struggle with speaking up in public in some way they’ve come to realize, where’s their voice? How did their voice disappear if they once had it or maybe they never had it?
So today I’m inviting Marti MacEwan to be my guest here and I’d like to read a little bit about her. She knows what she’s talking about when it comes to stage fright. Marty, who is a professional counselor in stage fright, Coach of public speaking and coach for more than normal insecurity and nerves. But when she started to learn to sing solo, she had a complete meltdown. She had no idea where that panic was coming from, why it happened, when it did or what to do about it. Figuring out how to be free of her fear of public singing led her to develop the stage fright cure and a professional specialty in helping others be free of their fear of speaking or performing in any setting. She has helped musicians, speakers, leaders, writers, business people and professionals be free of the limiting effects of stage fright. Welcome, Marty, we’ve had conversations before and today you get to share not only the history of what you’ve come to realize about your stage fright, show people how they can find you because you have a process that works.
Marti MacEwan [02:35]
Thank you for having me here. It’s really fun to talk to you again and share some of these ideas and some of my experience with your audience.
Dr. Doreen Downing [02:44]
You mentioned in the intro that it was kind of normal insecurity but it hit you at one point in your life. So, it’s wherever you want to start in this story, it’s up to you.
Marti MacEwan [3:00]
I was a Toastmaster for a long time in terms of public speaking and did well. I think like you did contests and awards and all of that sort of thing. It didn’t necessarily calm your system. Knowing what you’re doing and knowing you’re good at it because you’re getting the feedback isn’t necessarily enough to relax you in the situation. So, it wasn’t my fear of public speaking, I don’t think it was tied to speaking, it was tied to being up in front of people and having all those people look at you. It was more general but at that point in my life, certainly, the only place it showed up was public speaking because that was all it was doing. I’ve been a therapist for many years and along the way started working with some energy psychology techniques that some of your audience may be familiar with. That’s what got me over my ‘public speaking fear’.
What happened to me is I would give a fine speech and then afterwards, I would have this compulsive need for reassurance. It would come after I gave a speech rather than before and I would run around to people and ask… Was it Okay, am I right? Did I survive? Was it all right? But no amount of reassurance did the trick because I need the same amount of reassurance the next time. But one time I started using these energy psychology techniques on the speaking part and that reaction went away. I just bypassed that right reaction after I gave speeches. Two or three decades later because I was cool, young in Toastmasters, I decided that I wanted to sing solo, which again means getting up in front of people and having them all look at you. So my awareness got heightened and it was one of the elements that triggered my stage fright… it was just the pure experience of being up in front of people and having them look at you expectantly to say something or do something. So that was a clue number one and then I’m singing and it took me over like a tornado in terms of the adrenaline, the heart rate and the sweaty palms and the shaking knees and the worry that I was going to forget the lyrics or that people were laughing at me or all those thoughts and feelings, the body sensations that people have when they have stage fright. So gradually, I started making connections about where it came from. And I can use those energy psychology techniques and develop even more to calm my physical reaction to the things that were triggering.
Dr. Doreen Downing [06:14]
I think this applies to so many people that I or we’ve worked with, what happens afterwards? Is that judgment that comes in and says that it wasn’t enough or I could have or if only I had said this and why didn’t I speak up when I had the opportunity? Just the whole kind of beating themselves up afterwards. You said, you needed reassurance and you were looking externally, not internally for whatever you needed because obviously, the next time you needed it again.
Marti MacEwan [06:57]
Exactly right, you make a huge point because that’s a majority of people. The fear is not of the outside circumstances, the fear is of what we’re going to experience within ourselves. I think a big part of my getting over my stage fright and helping other people do the same is to help them to center in on what is going on inside my skin rather than what is going on the outside, that the triggers that fire off that adrenaline response, certainly are outside of ourselves but they can also as you said, be about what we do with it, we run the regret rehearsal to the point where we’re causing ourselves unnecessary anxiety.
Dr. Doreen Downing [07:47]
I hope people grab on to that one because unnecessary anxiety is dangerous. We’ve pointed to the one that happens most when you’ve put yourself out and have been seen and heard and feel it wasn’t enough.
Marti MacEwan [08:09]
For me, this goes back to tracing its origins. It was the fear of feeling humiliated or fear of feeling embarrassed, fear of feelings that I have felt in the past that were excruciatingly painful. The brunt of a joke feeling like, people are laughing about me or talking about me behind my back. I think that’s why after I gave a speech, it wasn’t the same as singing, I was afraid of beginning to end. But that phenomenon of needing reassurance was for me because I could tell on the inside it was more about ‘did I humiliate myself’ ‘did I embarrassed myself.’ And that’s not the same for everybody necessarily but it was certainly true for me.
Dr. Doreen Downing [09:09]
I like the way you linked it to something earlier where these messages or where the insecurity starts, which is often really earlier about and maybe you did have and people do have those experiences where they are bullied, shamed and singled out, that sticks in the brain. You’re talking about energy, an energy that let a wound, isn’t it?
Marti MacEwan [09:43]
Sure, everything is energy when you come right down to it. We are all vibrational beings, whether it has to do with the electromagnetic energy that’s running through our whole system or the energy of heat, all of everything happens in our biological systems, everything happens by bioelectric reactions, positive and negative polls and reactions that are either attracting or repelling and move our molecules around. So, all of that has to do with our energy.
Dr. Doreen Downing [10:21]
Before I go deeper into that, I want to get back to what you said about singing, that was a whole different story and you called it a meltdown. Do you understand why was that so different?
Marti MacEwan [10:48]
I knew I was a good speaker. I had already been a teacher, that was not a skill that I had insecurity about. It wasn’t the skill. It was that what I just talked about getting up in front of people in the fear of humiliating myself, but I didn’t know that I was a good singer. So, on top of it, I was afraid that I was a terrible singer. And here’s another aspect of it that came out for me was that I thought singers were cool but I’m not cool. For several reasons, while growing up, I didn’t grow up as one of the cool kids. I was not one of the popular crowds. So, I think there was a train wreck that happened at the moment where I had my first voice lesson. She asked me to sing ‘Mary had a little lamb’ and I couldn’t do it. Speaking of losing your voice, my throat just tightened up, my eyes were big, I was frozen in place and I was shaking. I lost my voice literally. I was so tense and so overtaken with a wordless stop, it was a panic and a stop. And then, going back to that incident and figuring out what was the train wreck, it was my self-esteem. There was one point in my young life where I was enamored by these opera singers on ‘The Ed Sullivan’ Show, I and my dad were sitting in a chair. I said I liked that singer and my dad said, she’s just showing off. I didn’t know any different when I was eight years old. I remember registering that’s showing off is something you don’t do. So, there was a taboo that got created, coolly filed away and my brain then didn’t think about it again. But when I got up to sing and dared to sing for someone else, it was showing off or it was at least me trying to show off, not consciously.
Dr. Doreen Downing [13:39]
The way you demonstrated; I just want to say to the listeners that what you did was demonstrate what it was like to have that collision. In that moment, what you’re saying it was built and buried in your system. So, say a little bit more about energy and how it gets stuck and how to release it because that seems to be a secret of yours.
Marti MacEwan [14:23]
There’s a whole field called ‘energy psychology. A colleague and I Stephanie Eldering is also a therapist came up with an energy psychology protocol that we call the rapid relief process. It’s a series of exercises or routines that are designed to disassociate not in a negative way but in a positive way. To unlink those old experiences and the emotional charge and the emotional meaning that they had from the present. So, example, one of the early incidents that I had to clear up my energy about regarding singing was a fourth-grade incident where I was going to show off for my boyfriend in school and I was dressed to the nines, I had a brand-new dress and I had fancy new shoes. Well, in this elementary school, there was a rule where you had to be in your seat by the end of the bell or you’d be sent to the principal’s office. So, I’m outside the classroom and I’m all nervous about how I was going to show off for my boyfriend, Steve. And the bells started to ring. So, I ran in the classroom, I ran up the middle aisle up to my seat in the front of the class, only to realize that they’d wax the floors the night before. And with my slippery new shoes, I went on my ass, right in front of Steve, right in front of the whole class, that class was laughing, the teacher was laughing and I was so humiliated. And at that moment, I think most of your listeners can relate to this, oftentimes, in those situations, there’s this little gap of silence that in your head and that’s when I think that we make meaning out of things that happen. I think the meaning that I made out of that incident was, don’t wear your heart on your sleeve, don’t call attention to yourself, look what happens when you try to be somebody, all these meanings get lodged. So, what energy psychology does by actually addressing the acupuncture system and the chakra system, the auric field, which are very real parts of our energy, while you’re remembering a particular thing, you do these routines that are Mind Body energy routines and it has the function of dismantling the emotional charge and the meaning that we still have attached to those old incidents that are still lodged in the subconscious. So, what you experience is that you calm down about it, your physiology calms down about it and your memory of it changes so that it no longer carries that loaded meaning. And then it’s just a memory. It’s just a memory of something that happened once that didn’t matter much, which is truly what it was. It was humiliating for me but the rest of the class, in that fourth-grade incident, it was just a slapstick moment, it didn’t have anything to do with me. And when I use these energy psychology routines and the rapid relief process to dismantle the emotional charge on that memory, I could realize that it wasn’t personal. I could let go of the meaning that better not do that. It’s going to be painful.
Dr. Doreen Downing [18:13]
I have taken some workshops with you. I think one of the reasons why I wanted to introduce you to my audience is because I think I love the phrase ‘rapid relief process’ and how to do it is very simple. It’s almost like, I am doing something with my body and I sweep my energy. And it’s almost like I’m cleaning out my system. In sweeping my body, it takes this pent-up energy or this buried energy or this negative energy that still comes from that those experiences that we don’t even consciously remember. It dissolves them, it moves them out of our body. I liked what you said about the memory as just a memory. So, with listeners, I’d like you to have that image right now with your moments that you remember and still feel some excruciating pain. Just imagine the possibility of being able to just have a memory and have no charge. A memory but without the charge, without internal reaction.
Let’s move on to give people a way to contact you and to get more information or sign up for one of your workshops.
Marti MacEwan [19:58]
Thank you very much. My website is stagefright.com and it’s all there. I have written a book; I have an online e-course. I do private coaching and teach a free class that Doreen was referring to called ‘RAPID RELIEF FROM STRESS AND DISTRESS’. It is for people who want to resolve the stage fright reaction but also for people who have any kind of stress or distress in their lives that they want to feel better about or some situation they want to handle better or a memory they want to clear up.
Dr. Doreen Downing [20:42]
Wonderful. Marti, any last words?
Marti MacEwan [20:50]
I’m excited about it that stage fright gets in the way of so many people’s goals, dreams and aspirations. Sometimes it stops people in their tracks, they just won’t go there because stage fright is so severe, scary or uncomfortable. They’re not willing at all to do whatever it is they want to do because of that and like you with finding your voice. You don’t want people to be hampered by that and stopped from doing what they want to do or voicing what they want to voice. My big message is that you don’t have to live with it. There are remedies and I invite you if you’re being limited at all or stopped at all by your fear of performing or speaking, that you check out the website and see that you can be free of anxiety.
Dr. Doreen Downing [21:41]
The beautiful message “YOU CAN BE FREE OF ANXIETY THAT HOLDS YOU BACK”. Thank you, Marti.
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Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: https://www.doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: https://www.doreen7steps.com.