Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

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Poppy Webb
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Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by Poppy Webb »

Hey everyone,

Hope all are well. So I am around six months sober and last night I did my first chair and am feeling worried/anxious about it. Is this normal? I always find in meetings that when it's my time to share, my heart races and my mind goes blank so I end up brushing over huge topics without much detail, whereas everyone else seems to give really solid advice and are able to tell their story well. And this was only exemplified during my first chair. It was last minute and definitely a good thing that I wasn't prepared (as I know I would've spent all week/month worrying about it) and everyone at the meeting was super supportive and lovely, but I worry that my story was just pointless and that I didn't really go into any useful detail about the craving and severity of the alcohol problem.

Has anyone experienced this? One on one I'm fine, but in a group I just clam up. Does anyone have an advice on this?

Thank you xx

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Jojo2
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by Jojo2 »

Welcome Poppy.

I can relate to what you say. I am used to public speaking, yet not without my share of nerves and fear of freezing. I am still reminded at meetings that they thought I might never speak and now they can't shut me up!
When I reached my one year sober anniversary, it was Gratitude week and I went to about 4 or 5 meetings that week. I was asked to be lead speaker at every meeting (all in different areas). My sponsor always said that my Higher Power was speaking through me. I didn't have time to be nervous.

Ask your HP to help you to express rather than impress.

Remember it's not about you; it's about carrying the message.

I can never remember what I said, but I always remember what I forgot to say (ego talking). We never know what we say will be helpful to others.
The first AA share I ever heard, someone was talking about feeling like a square peg in a round hole all his life. That was it for me. I knew absolutely I was in the right place. I couldn't tell you anything anyone else shared all those years ago (or even yesterday!), but that feeling of hope and belonging has never left me and I can still picture that man sharing and remember his voice.
You can only be a channel and just tell your truth and if you say one thing that one person hears, you are a success.
I believe that if you are in AA, there is someone who needs to hear your story. I also believe that if I am asked to tell my story that there is someone in the room who needs to hear it.

I like to work with the Set Aside prayer whenever speaking, leading discussion, and working with another alcoholic.
"God, please, set aside everything I think I know about the Big Book, the 12 steps, myself and You, God, for an open mind and a new experience".
Focus on what happened, what it was like, and what it's like now and I'm sure you'll have plenty to talk about. The emphasis needs to be on what it's like now rather than drunken escapades so keep an eye on the time. It certainly gets easier with practice and you soon realise it is not a competition. It is quite usual in my experience to feel as you do ... this will pass as they say. You'll be just fine !
Glad you have joined us.

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avaneesh912
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by avaneesh912 »

As we gain more experience and knowledge and understand more about this disease it does get better. As Jojo suggested prayer is a good way to calm ourselves and be god focused.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

Poppy Webb
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by Poppy Webb »

Hey there,

Thank you so much for your input and your advice. I really liked what you said about prayer and also the need to let go of ego - I think that's an issue as I want to get all of my story out. But actually the bits I remember most from people's shares are their messages of hope.

Really appreciate your feedback :) thank you

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PaigeB
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

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Ask your HP to help you to express rather than impress.
Good advice.

I have a big ego. Yup - I think I have A LOT of good things to say and good ways to say it! So I pray this too, but not for the right words - but so that I might express the humility with which I was bestowed by the Grace of my HP. It is difficult for my atheist ego to let go. But I dip my head for a "God help me" right at the last second - not caring if the audience sees this. Then I dive into whatever I say - assuming that my HP is in charge of whatever comes to mind & comes out.

When I get the hand shakes and thank yous at the end - I send those into the Wind.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

kingsizexx
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by kingsizexx »

anxiety is always being solved by meditation and soul books, also depression aswell. Everything of this related domain is linked to your subconsciousness problems and deregulations, consequences of which are represented in form of anxieties, depressions, fears and other negative emotions. I love the white maeng da effects as it can chill your nervous system and body, so you can be humble analyzing what's really going inside you and your soul. Don't even try to run from those kind of emotions with drugs or alcohol, you'll just make it worse. Good day !
Last edited by kingsizexx on Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

tomsteve
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by tomsteve »

1st open talk i did, i rode with my sponsor to the place. along the way, i started getting jitters.
"dam! im gettin jittery-whats up with that?"
"my sponsor:" i dont know. what ya thinkkin?"
"ive never done this. dont wanna say a bunch of crap that dont mean nothing or go on a drunkalogue."
my sponsor:"ya worried what people will think?"
"well, yeah."
sponsor:"hey-you were at last saturdays meeting. who read how it works?"
"i dont remember."
sponsor-"what about the traditions?"
" i dont recall."
sponsor:" thats how well what you say will be remembered in a week."

MyNameIsBetsy
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by MyNameIsBetsy »

sponsor:" thats how well what you say will be remembered in a week."
That made me laugh. So true, and more than a little humbling.

I remember being on vacation with about four months of sobriety under my belt. The island had local AA meetings five days a week, with maybe 8 to 12 people there. The meeting secretary asked me to be the speaker a few days later, and said I had 20 minutes!

I spend the next few days rehearsing in my head, carefully choosing which experience to share and what I learned from it. I nailed that 20 minutes - finished exactly on time! And everyone else started sharing. I don't know if anyone got anything from what I shared, but I did. I had spend days on the beach with my head thinking about AA instead of thinking about those drinks I wasn't drinking. I stayed sober in a vacation environment. Success. Guess that meeting secretary knew what he was doing.

Betsy, an alcoholic
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."

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herpawearo
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by herpawearo »

That is just so familiar to me actually. I have been facing this kind of issue since I was a kid. I still remember the first time when I faced this issue, I was at school, and I just forgot everything single thing that I had to say. I still face this issue every single time when I have to give a speech in front of many people.
Last edited by herpawearo on Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

MyNameIsBetsy
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by MyNameIsBetsy »

Hi herpawearo, glad you posted.

It's hard to share at first. It all feels so darned awkward. I remember feeling as if all eyes were upon me, expecting something profound!

I don't know anyone who is good at this at first. But, with time, we get more comfortable and the words (mostly) come out better. Until then, short and honest usually does the trick.

Betsy, an alcoholic
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."

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PaigeB
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by PaigeB »

herpawearo wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 4:36 pm
That is just so familiar to me actually. I have been facing this kind of issue since I was a kid. I still remember the first time when I faced this issue, I was at school, and I just forgot everything single thing that I had to say.
When I am in a meeting it is good for me to forget what I WANT to say... likely that comes from my EGO cause I am soooo smart! LOL. But when I forget what I thought I wanted to say - and say what comes from the heart than I am in the moment and likely more effective. At the top of mind, I usually forget what I said - but I think my brain remembers somewhere... I usually say something I need to hear!

When speaking at the podium for more that 10 minutes, I take a skeleton list of 3-5 things to add in if I lose my place or if I need to fill more time.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

Tonyc
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Re: Anxiety surrounding the first chair/speaking in meetings

Post by Tonyc »

I would say it's pretty normal to be nervous. I started chairing a small meeting,10 people, that helped. After a few times it's fine. When it comes to sharing what helped me was finding a meeting that's a round robin. Everyone shares in order around the room. You will get used to it fast.

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