Recently a participant made a comment to me about how he felt that the Speaking Circle was “too safe” and this made him doubt our approach. I explained that in this process I intentionally create a gentle learning environment because I believe it’s difficult to change behavior without support and acceptance.
To guide people into their fear and help them learn how to stay present while they are experiencing intense anxiety requires new conditions that will promote growth. We say that the inner voice was wounded in public and that is why we use the group approach; however, this time the “public” is available for connection, has no expectations, listens only to the essence, and gives appreciation for natural qualities. In this way, people can tap into their real voice.
Even though the participant said that the Speaking Circle was safe, I had to question him. During his turns, he showed signs of being nervous and he was not practicing Relational Presence. He then admitted to me that he was avoiding following the instructions and doing the work which was to be present and allow himself to simply be with someone in the group and let words arise. He told me that he had figured out how to make it through the turns. All he had to do was pick a topic, stick to it, and keep talking.
As we know, the idea is to be willing to have the discomfort and to explore it. Repeated exposure to the fright without the imagined negative consequence is part of what is transformational in this process. In bringing the anxiety to the surface over and over in the new and “soft” space, one can expose and discover more about what it is that lurks and threatens. By learning how to be present with fear, without fighting it or covering it up, people can navigate their way to the true source of power—their authentic voice.