A client was referred to me who was uncertain and about their confused about their career direction. They felt like others had made decisions about their career choices for them and that they were passive.
In addition to this, they felt that their self-consciousness precluded them from applying for any work activities or roles which included presenting. This meant that they did not want to teach or train in groups although they had feedback that they were very good at 1-1 mentoring.
They said that they even felt phobic about attending training events run by other people - where they had to do role plays because they felt too self-conscious and uncomfortable to participate.
Their anxiety levels increased when they thought about any type of work situation which required them to put their ideas forward in anything but a small group where they knew their colleagues. Interviews were a significant worry and they catastrophised about this. They wanted to move on but felt bound up by their negative emotions and were stuck in a role which was two grades lower than their qualifications. They wanted to know what career options were a possibility and how to be more comfortable managing their self-conscious emotions.
As we explored this area several new pieces of information came to light which challenged the client's view of their self-consciousness. Firstly, they were responsible for running a regular training session at their organisation to people outside their department. However, the client had not framed this work as "training." The dissonance between their perception that they couldn't train and the fact that they were actually doing this without self-consciousness as a 'run of the mill' activity to a number of people every month led them to reconsider that not only were they able to do it but that they were regularly presenting and training. This gave them a lot of confidence.
In addition, the client received an award for a creative project they did outside work coming first in a national competition. This event gave them great pride and meant a lot to them personally. When the result was announced publicly, they were surprised and delighted. They gave an amusing, animated, impromptu speech to everyone at the event, in front of friends, family, judges and other competitors. This was recorded and they showed it to me. They were brimming with confidence and joy in that moment and it led to them believing that their self-conscious feelings could be overcome.
By talking through these events and understanding how resourced and courageous they already were helped to reframe the label that they had given themselves of being 'shy and self-conscious.' It was also a helpful reminder to know that some feelings of anxiety are perfectly normal and can even be helpful to have energy to enable peak performance.
The client started working on writing about their feelings and issues to break it down into manageable logical thoughts which helped them to feel much more in control of their self-conscious emotions. They also became much more confident about taking career steps to new roles which they had previously dismissed.
The client's body language completely changed towards the latter sessions, they were much more confident and self-assured. They felt more agency about taking steps in a career direction they felt was suited to them in the future.