To Learn More about Dr. Doreen Downing [click here] to view her Media Kit.
Janine Bolon: Hi, and welcome to the Thriving Solopreneur Show. This is Janine Bolon. With me today, I happen to have Dr. Doreen Downing. One of the things I like about Doreen is she and I met on these little crazy networking groups where you just go on and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is gonna be so boring. Yet another networking group.” I was pleasantly surprised when I ran into Doreen because this particular networking group I was a part of had very excited and wanting to serve. I was in a Zoom room full of servant leaders. When you have that happening as a solopreneur, let me tell you something, you get excited because you know there is a lot of information.
So we’re gonna pack this in 20 minutes. So, I want you to clear your plate or if you’re driving, pay attention to the road, whatever you’re doing while you’re listening to this. But at some point, you want to come back to this and take notes because Dr. Downing, Doreen is an amazing psychologist and podcast host of “Find Your Voice, Change Your Life.” And that is no joke.
She once suffered from stage fright so bad. It was paralyzing. She managed to conquer it. She discovered how to connect with her authentic self. She uses that as a key to relaxed and confident speaking. She also, now, specializes in the treatment of public speaking anxiety. She is someone you definitely want to get to know if you, as a business owner, ever need to speak and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, how do I speak in front of the camera? What do I do? How do I help?” She can help you with all of that promotional work.
In addition, she also has coached in online courses. She’s the author of this wonderful book. I highly recommend you. Get it. It’s called “Essentially Speaking: The 7-Steps Guide to Finding Your Real Voice”. This book not only teaches you how to transform your anxiety but also how to do it with a sense of presence and strong connection with your audience. So, you can download her 7-step guide. We’re actually be going through the first 3 steps of that guide and you go find that at doreen7steps.com and that will be where you go. Thank you so much for being with us today, Dr. Doreen.
Dr. Doreen Downing: Oh, Janine. That was fun to listen to. I was going to say, you really captured everything about who I am and how I got to be a psychologist helping people overcome their fear. Thank you.
Janine: You’re very welcome. You know me. I’m very direct. It’s like let’s get to your content because one of the things I love to do for the solopreneurs who listen to this show is really giving them quality content and you are loaded with information between your ears. We’re gonna to start tweezing some of that out now.
The first one is when it comes to fearless speaking… One of the things I loved about your guide because yes, I signed up. I got it. As I was looking through it, one of the things that really hit me was how there are cultural influences that you may not even be aware of that cause you to have a fear of speaking in front of people. So, I was raised in 4 different cultures. My dad was in the military. We were in 4 different countries. As I was reading that in your guide. I immediately went, “Oh my gosh, yes.” I knew exactly where my fear of speaking was.
So, let’s talk about the most basic one. If you don’t mind. Children are to be seen, not heard. Let me tell you, if you’re of Japanese descent, you know that because I was raised in Japan for 5 years during elementary school and that was a big one. So, talk to us about, as a business owner, how do we get over that anxiety?
Dr. Doreen: Well, I think what you just said, you pointed to several causes of anxiety. I think people usually think if they’re afraid of speaking in front of groups, it’s about making a better speech, learning how to communicate better. But first, we have to go back to where did the anxiety begin. I think you just showed your listeners that the first step is to go back and do a kung fu of early life. I know people say, “Oh, the past. This is the past. Let’s move on.” But no, the past is with us right here every single day. If we deal with it today, it dissolves. For business owners, for anyone in business, I think, it is all about being comfortable with who you are and if anxiety exists, it interferes. It’s just energy that gets into the channel of communication.
So the origins of fear. I guess bottom line, I want to say, I’d like to peek back to early life experiences to find out when you might have been uncomfortable speaking up and it was a pattern that developed early on.
Janine: It’s a perfect segway. Then you talk about your parental influences, whether it was Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Stepmom, Stepdad. It doesn’t matter that you had a family dynamic of some kind where speaking up was not in your best and highest good at some point. So talk to us a little bit about what are some steps that, say, a person like myself could take. My dad was in a military environment and you didn’t speak unless you are spoken to. He wasn’t being a meanie. I had a wonderful dad. I love my dad. But at the same time, I was subconscious. It was a subliminal almost understanding. So, talk to us a little bit about how do you break out of something like that?
Dr. Doreen: First, you have to realize it. First, you have to accept the fact and have that insight to say, “Oh.” Then I think, second, I do a little of what we call inner child work because you were a little one there. You have influences. You had some rules and some family dynamics and norms. I think that first kind of self-awareness. Knowing that you had this situation and it was then and speaking to the little one. “Hey, little one. We realized that you have this father, speaking about you. Mine was my mother who was depressed and didn’t pay attention.” So we all have some kind of situation where we didn’t get to grow into the fullest of who we can be.
So what I do as a psychological, as my work as psychology is I take people back with my psychological tools at inner child work and have conversations. It’s called dialogue with parts. You take the part of you that was trapped but let’s just say, found herself in a situation and you speak to her, “Hello, little one in there. Tell me how it felt.” And then, there’s a listener. She could speak up in a way that she couldn’t before. So you start to give the little one that didn’t have a voice way back then, some confidence. “Yes, I can because somebody’s listening and I know this somebody who’s listening.” Well, that’s what I do in my office as a psychologist. I listen to people and in listening to people, their voice begins to emerge. Does that make sense?
Janine: Totally does. For those of you who think this is woo-woo stuff. Let me tell you, it goes all the way back to Carl Jung, all right. He was talking about how to talk to the subconscious. So, what Dr. Doreen is talking about is totally an alignment with stuff that we’ve been practicing for decades, almost a hundred years now. Believe it or not, it works. It’s stuff that I’ve seen happen in my own life. As you guys know, you’ve listened to me long enough. I’m an analytical biochemist. I don’t do anything unless I’ve tested it and proven it for myself. So, I don’t bring somebody like Dr. Doreen on to talk about stuff unless I know, for a fact, that what she’s talking about really does work. Having these internal dialogues are very important for helping you gain confidence in ways that you never thought possible.
So let’s go on to the third person, the ethnicity or the minority status. Now, this was huge for me because I was, like I said, an analytical biochemist. A lot of times. I was the only woman in a corporate boardroom. I was presenting results and I would watch how as the only woman in that boardroom, how I would be interrupted and talked over in ways they did not do to the male colleagues that were also presenting data or results. And then, I saw how it was even worse. If the person was a Hispanic or African-American woman. The men were about level with me and it was just something I noticed in the boardroom as I move through society.
What was interesting though is that the Asian-Pacific folks didn’t have so and so. Forgive me for calling out directly. But this was my personal view of when I would move through the scientific industries that I was involved in and as a woman as I was watching who interrupted whom. That’s, as you know, you’re sitting up there talking and who felt it was okay to talk over you and where it wasn’t. I would always turn to the African-American males that were there and we wouldn’t make eye contact and I go, “I’m sorry, my brother. I don’t know how to help you” because this is back in the 80s and 90s. Okay.
I talk to him later. I’m like, “What were you trying to say before you were interrupted? Let’s see how we can get this on the docket for next time.” Things like that. So anybody who doesn’t think this is a problem needs to be a little bit more observant because it most especially is if you’re an African-American female. Now, that’s happened. A lot of that has changed with Black Lives Matter, but, there’s just now a hypersensitivity.
So, talk to us a little bit about how we become a fearless speaker. Now, we have 2 dynamics in the world. One, you want to speak if, say, you’re an African-American person, but then the other thing is here I am as a single white female speaking to a group and I have been attacked on some things because it was immediately assumed I was privileged so I had no voice. So there’s fear now on both sides that are inhibiting communication. I’d love to hear your perspective. As an entrepreneur, here I am standing in front of a mixed audience. How do we handle that elephant in the room?
Dr. Doreen: Well, I think you really layout so much of what I’m talking about, Janine. You point to exactly what the whole purpose of finding your voice is so that who you are, what you have to say has value. I think we start with a self-concept that you have to begin with a sense of what I have to say matters and what I need to do is to find ways in which I can feel confident and my sense of confidence is deeper. It’s not about what you say, it’s about who you are. So this whole self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-development. You mentioned earlier today, being part of groups where you get environments, where you are hurt.
So that’s one way where you get to practice finding your voice and speaking in an environment that has a “listening” in it. I mentioned “listening” a few minutes ago, too. About finding people who will listen to you helps you articulate so that when you are in environments where it’s more challenging, you’re able to stay connected to what you know, what you believe, and what you have to say. It’s like a gym. So the practicing in environments where people truly listen to you, care about you, I think breeds really deep confidence.
Janine: I just wanted to say to all the folks, I don’t care what your ethnicity is. I know you’re challenged. It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you feel you’re on, there’s a challenge when it comes to speaking. I mean, come on now. Out of the top 5 fears or whatever, public speaking is number 1. So there are people who would choose death rather than have to talk in front of people. So just let me share with you. I get it. I get why you have a lot of fear. That’s why Dr. Doreen is on with us today.
I see so many quality, high-quality business owners that have come from all walks of life all over the globe and they have landed in a certain area. I know that they could do more for their families and their communities if they could get that confidence. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about is those traumatic events. That’s the fourth one that you have on your list. That you talked about the areas where we learn to be afraid of speaking and there are traumatic events that happen to you.
Yes, I have had things thrown at me when I was on stage speaking because there was such a disconnect between the audience and myself. And so, I now know how to avoid ever being in that position again. So I choose to interpret that traumatic event as a lesson on how to connect better with my audience so they are not taking out the anger that started before I entered the stage but how to diffuse it once I am on stage and that’s with humor. So, when you get up and you make a joke, and especially if you make that joke about yourself, it helps people laugh. It helps address the elephant in the room.
Can you talk to us a little bit about how to turn that horrible traumatic event into the best thing that could have happened to you? You guys, you psychologists are great at this. You take these awful, horrific events and you’re like, “Now, we’re going to show you how to make it funny and we’re going to show you how to make this your strength instead of your weakness.” So talk to us a little bit about that mental juggling you guys go through to help coach people like me over those horrible barriers.
Dr. Doreen: Yes, I would say that one of the biggest resistance is to take events in your life and say, “Okay, where’s the gold? Where’s the nugget?” I think just asking that question helps people realize that there could be something positive where they did learn. I know I had an experience when my father was leaving. I was 5 years old and somehow I sensed it. I knew it. It was a party. Everybody was drinking beer, but I knew and I think that was the beginning. It’s a painful moment when my father disappeared, but on the other hand, it’s where I learned to listen. I knew that I was able to sense into people and what they’re saying and what they’re not saying.
So I think that whole idea of taking pain or taking any circumstances and looking for, “What did I learn that I couldn’t have learned in any other way?” One example I’ll give is a man that I’ve worked with who said, “I feel like an imposter whenever I get in front of people.” When we did a little of that early digging that I talked about, we discovered that when his father died, he was 12 years old and his uncle said, “You are now the man of the family.” He said to me, “I’m now the man of the family.” He recalled being so challenged and so inept at being a man at 12. He linked that, “I’m an imposter” today when he’s standing in front of people to that moment way back when and so what we were talking about earlier about the inner child work and dialogue work. It’s like you were able to take on something really challenging.
So, this whole idea of standing in front of people is like doing something really challenging. Yay, you. I have so many stories. There’s also somebody who is a bully and he asked a question and I don’t know, it’s health education, maybe 12 years old and it had to do with sex. Everybody in the class wanted to ask that question, but nobody had the nerve. He was bullied and teased afterward, but we reframed it. He said, “Look at me. I was the bold one in the room. I was able to step up and ask the question nobody else was willing to ask.” So that taking the moment and making it into something powerful.
Janine: And there are some people. It depends on where you are in your healing process where you look at a traumatic event and you’re like, “There is no way I can reframe this into a positive. There’s just no way.” For that, just say compassion. There have been several moments in my own life where I just had to say, “I have learned compassion.”
Then, I also encourage you to seek help. Find somebody like a Dr. Doreen who can help walk you through very gently through that traumatic event so you can find your voice again and find that authenticity. I just realized when it comes to impostor syndrome, I have yet to meet a business owner that doesn’t experience that at some point on their journey and their business ownership because we’re highly creative people, and nobody is more terrified that they’re an imposter than creative people were so terrified of somebody finding out if they really dug. Oh my gosh, what we would find underneath?
So let’s dig a little bit into these 7 steps of being a fearless speaker. You have so many wonderful things, but we’re only going to talk about 3 today. The first one was becoming comfortable with silence. That is something that is stated over and over again, but you frame it in a very different way. Care to share a bit on that?
Dr. Doreen: Yes. First, I liked what you said about digging in. That’s what we need to do, is go deeper inside of ourselves to find the essence. That’s why I call my programs essential speaking because it’s the essence of who you are that powerhouse this strength and once you know that, you can go into any situation.
Let’s just say, I’m working with somebody and we’ve combed through the early history. We’ve identified the anxiety. We’ve done some treatment strategies. Then, there are some skills that need to be developed. I have 7 of them that I teach people and they’re all mindfulness techniques. The first one is being able to quiet your body and quiet your mind. Of course, breathing. A certain kind of focused breathing is the best one, but there’s progressive relaxation, there’s meditation, there’s apps. So I don’t teach people particular quieting techniques of how to get the stillness, but there’s so much.
We do find something that works for people whoever they are whatever works. It could be nature, like really taking a break and going out and just sitting looking at the fall leaves or the spring blossoms where they start to feel connected to something larger than the meeting that they’ve just come out of. So, the stillness is something that is like the center core quiet. They call it the still point inside. Going dropping down into that place in the center grounds you. I would say that, that capacity to look at what’s happening in your mind, noticing, and then going woooo… I know dead air is not good on the radio, but I just wanted to let that… That’s part of what’s the problem in our society is we don’t give space and we don’t let people just take a pause and reflect. So, that’s important. The first step is learning how to still yourself, quiet yourself and be silent.
Janine: And it’s really kind of a mini-vacation. Like you said, we don’t get it a lot. So if you can learn to do that even if it’s for 30 seconds, it’s amazing how refreshing that can be for you. Especially for an entrepreneur. We’ve got a million things that we could be doing in any moment and so, we stay pretty active.
Step 2 is, be in the present. Now, this is something that we hear quite a bit if you’re in any kind of a meditation or yoga. You hear this a lot. What happens is when you hear stuff a lot in certain contexts, you don’t know how to then translate it into a different context. So, talk to us as a business owner someone who is getting ready to speak, what does it mean to be in the present?
Dr. Doreen: Well, it means not being noticed. See, this is where knowing yourself comes in. If you know that you have a history and you start feeling anxious and you go, “Oh, that’s my history. I’m not in the present.” So you’re able to self-regulate. You’re able to take that deep breath. Find that course enter inside of yourself. Recalibrate your body and your mind to come into this very now.
The other thing that interferes, I think, with being in the now is the projection into the future. “I’ve got to make an impression” or “I’ve got to make this sell” or “I’ve got to look good” and I’ve got to complete a project here and I’ve got to make sure that everyone is on board.” So, all those kind of pressures. But we have to look at that’s pushing yourself into the future. It’s not in this very now.
One quick technique, I’ll say, is spotlighting, if you’ve heard about that. Yeah. It’s taking yourself into this environment and looking around, and just noticing, taking one object. Lamp, lamp, lamp, oh, and then looking at the lamp and seeing the shine on it and the light on it and the reflection and the texture. Then pretty soon, you’re right here. It’s almost hypnotic to bring yourself into the now moment.
Janine: And some people encourage you to look at a specific member of the audience. Some people encourage you to look at inanimate objects. It’s really your own comfort level. That’s why it’s always nice to have a friendly face in the audience, and you pivot to them and then once you’re comfortable, then you can pivot to other people. Thank you. Because I heard that on a different Zoom call. Dr. Doreen was talking about that at a different time.
Dr. Doreen: It’s that anchor.
Janine: Yeah, there you go. That was the word you used. Yes.
Dr. Doreen: Anchoring into the now.
Janine: Yep. Thank you so much. So step 3, be aware and eye to eye contact. Now, you even mentioned in that particular step that you have to make sure that you feel safe first before you move into eye-to-eye contact with your audience. That was something that I thought was really wonderful. Then another time, I heard you speak, you were talking about looking at people just above the eyebrows if you can’t look right into their eyes and stuff like that. So talk to us a little bit about how being aware and eye to eye contact is how you connect with your audience.
Dr. Doreen: So the reason why I use eye presence as the way to describe this step is because it builds on what we’ve just done. The stillness, anchoring into the center of who you are, being in the now and then, eyes open up naturally and softly. I tell people to gaze softly as opposed to the hard stare or the eye contact.
So, with the sense of having gazing, you’ll see that when you just soften your eyes, if people are listening right now, can soften their eyes. They’ll notice that their cheeks and then their neck and then their shoulders drop. It’s amazing how one little tweak, softening your eyes, can help you relax at the moment so that when you’re opening your eyes, your eyes are available and it’s no longer because I could just go on about how much society makes us afraid to look eye to eye. Right? That’s why I’m trying to make it a different experience as opposed to eye contact because that’s loaded with eye presence. Just be open. You’ve got your eyes more in a gazing than a staring. In the gazing, you take much more of the present in also. So eye to eye presence is what I talk about.
Janine: So those are the first 3 steps. So let’s talk a little bit about this fearless speaking. It sounds like we go from our own backgrounds in our own history and then we move into the environment that we’re going to be speaking into and that’s one of those beautiful things. So, we’ve covered these 7 areas of cultural influence, your family dynamics, ethnicity to traumatic events, and then being comfortable with silence, be in the presence, and then be aware. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, people, with what you can learn from Dr. Doreen Downing.
Tell us a little bit about what you have coming up here in September 20th. You have an event that you only host 6 people on. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Dr. Doreen: It’s a personal private, I know you use the word intimate coaching program where it is a group so you get group support and weekly we meet. I have an online material that they get lifetime access to. I teach all of the 7 steps that I’ve talked about. We also do some of the uncovering, the roots of anxiety. Then we have challenges every week where they go out and have to practice what it is that we’re learning because it’s an application, it is not just learning. It’s like, “Let’s put it right away. Let’s get out and start using our voices.” And then coming back to the group and getting feedback.
One thing I want to say about my whole steps and you were pointing to that. The whole idea, each step begins with “Be.” Be still. Be present. Be aware and then so forth. What I’m working on is who you are, essentially. You’re authentic self. I’m not working on you doing a better speech. What I’m working on is you being confident. So confident deeply that you can enter into any arena. The boardroom, to co-workers, to managing, to giving a presentation to a couple people or thousands of people which Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Wherever you go, there you are.” That’s what I’m working on in these coaching programs with people is to help them find their voice so they can change their life.
Janine: So, how does somebody get a hold of you to talk to you more about the coaching program?
Dr. Doreen: I think the best way since it’s a personal program is to email me at [email protected].
Janine: Yes. If you’re like, “Well, I’m not ready to make that step quite yet,” I’d like you to go to Doreen 7-step Guide to Fearless Speaking and just read what she has to say there. It’s a free download that you can take in. Yes, it does put you into our newsletter, but her newsletter’s not invasive. She’s not one of these people that you sign up for a newsletter and you get 10 emails and you’re hearing from her 3 times a week. She’s not that type of person. So, just make sure you go to www.doreen7steps.com so that you can get onto that 7-step guide.
She handles GDPR guidelines so you have to say, “Okay.” So, when she sends you an e-mail. So, she does handle her newsletter very well. I just wanted to say that because sometimes I know you hear about things and the next thing, you’re on a list you never wanted to be on. That’s not the case here. Before we wrap up, Doreen, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Dr. Doreen: What I’d like to say, Janine, is how brilliant you are and how you are able to capture what people are saying. I’ve listened to your podcast. Just being a guest today, I feel like you’ve taken what I say even deeper and more expansive. You have so much experience. I think people who listen to you, and I’m so glad you get to be syndicated because the world is going to get to listen to your wisdom and brilliance. Thank you so much.
Janine: Okay. I’ll pay you 20 bucks for that bribe here at the villa later. No, thank you very much. I appreciate it. It’s one of those mutual admiration societies. The guests that I have on this show. I know are doing amazing work and it’s an honor and I’m always thrilled to have you, folks, on The Thriving Solopreneur Show because I know there’s so much that you’re doing. We’re going to sign off today. Thank you so much, Doreen, for being with us.
Dr. Doreen: Yes. Thank you, Janine.
Janine: This is Janine Bolon with The Thriving Solopreneur. I just wanted to let you know that we are now syndicated and you will find us on the Janine Bolon Show at KHNC,13:60 a.m, and other radio stations are coming online to broadcast us. So, you’re welcome to continue to listen to us here on Spotify, iTunes, whatever of the 27 platforms we are in. Also know that you can go to the thejaninebolonshow.com and pick up any of the episodes that you may have missed. Have a great day and thank you so much for listening.