If you are struggling with job interview fears, looking to improve your relationship or career, then this episode is for you.
Today, we are joined by the wonderful Dr. Doreen Downing, Ph.D., a Psychologist, Founder of Essential Speaking, and Training Director for Speaking Circles® International.
In this episode, Dr. Doreen shares her raw and dramatic story of how bipolar and depression badly affected her mother and after being constantly shut down by her own grandmother, how that hindered her own childhood experience. Doreen shows how she regained trust in herself and broke free from stage fright to become one of the most sought-after experts in her field of excellence.
As Dr. Doreen highlights: “Public speaking is speaking any time, any place and not just on the stage. You’re speaking to your friends, bosses, co-workers…”. Her 7 Secrets to Fearless Speaking will help you to learn how to speak without fear in any situation, be fully present in front of groups, create a real connection with listeners, access your wise inner voice, and live a full and authentic life
About our guest
Dr. Doreen Downing is a Psychologist and Confidence Coach who specializes in the treatment of public speaking anxiety. She also hosts the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast.
Doreen once suffered from extreme stage fright. In conquering it, she discovered being connected to your authentic self is the key to relaxed and confident speaking.
In addition to coaching and online courses, she is author of Essential Speaking: The 7-Step Guide to Finding Your Real Voice, a book that teaches you how to transform your anxiety with presence and connection.
You can download Doreen’s 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking at doreen7steps.com.
Social Media Dr. Doreen Downing
Course website: https://essential-speaking.thinkific.com
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/drdoreendowning
Facebook Business Page: https://www.facebook.com/EssentialSpeaking
Facebook Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/essentialspeakingbook
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/drdoreenh
Podcast Playlist: https://www.findyourvoicechangeyourlife.com
Training Director, Speaking Circles International: https://speakingcirclesinternational.com/about-us/
Retreat leader (not current) http://speakingquest.com/
I know you, you’re afraid to speak up, you’re scared of what other people think of you. And you blame yourself for what happened to you. I know how it feels. Because I’ve been there. If you found me, I’m so grateful you’re here. This podcast will give you hope. And I’m your host in America Nova. And I’m going to hold your hand and provide the guidance, it’s time for you to find your why. And turn your experience into your biggest power. This is your time now. So lock your door, put your headphones in, and enjoy.Anna Maydonova:
Ladies and gentlemen, Doreen Downing. Welcome to the show. Welcome to the world’s Best Trauma Recovery podcast.Doreen Downing:
I am so thrilled to be here not only to tell my story, but to visit with you and have a conversation with you.Anna Maydonova:
I’m so glad you’re here. And for me, you are an inspiration and encouragement for women who who are looking to find their voice. And I can tell you, from my own experience of talking to you over the phone, when I heard your voice, it was like a C sound to my ears. And this is something I would love to develop.Doreen Downing:
Well, that’s a really, that feedback is often I get I do get that from people about my my voice. And I think my voice comes from an inner sense of myself an essence, I guess. And that’s even now trying to explain eventually what my trauma has been I’m going to commit to staying in my essence so that it resonates. And I think voice is a resonant kind of experience, like you say like music and it reaches people or it can reach people. And that’s what I hope to do today. Thank you.Anna Maydonova:
That’s the one there in my first question to you. What, why so many people afraid of public speaking?Doreen Downing:
I think it has to do with early life experience actually, because of my training as a psychologist. I think that where where we first learn about ourselves where we first get welcomed into this world is by those who are surrounding us after we’re born, you know, those first few years. And we’re looking out and we’re saying hello, and do is that Hello received? Are people saying Shut up for ignoring you? Or you don’t matter? Or are they saying hello back? And so that then you get a sense that my Hello, my voice my words are resonating out into the world, the world is saying hello back. And there’s a connection, right? There’s an early kind of sense of I’m here, people are listening. And I’m connected. I know that’s a very deep kind of answer to what I think is the source of public speaking fears or just fears about speaking up not just being on stage.Anna Maydonova:
And you are so right. Because Ward does have a huge power, especially if this word is coming from our parents. And I’ve experienced it on myself. My mother and my stepfather had a huge influence on me, especially my stepfather. I was constantly shut down. And being quiet was my protection mechanism. Because I was so afraid to say something wrong. And then after sexual abuse, I was so afraid to say anything at all. How was your childhood experience? Where did you first get this sense of fear of public speaking?Doreen Downing:
Well, I would say, again, for me public speaking is speaking anytime, anyplace. And I want to make that clear for people because sometimes public speaking people say oh, that’s on a stage. I’m not a public speaker, but you’re speaking to your friends you’re speaking to bosses, coworkers, you’re speaking all day long. So I, I want to make sure that people are understanding that speaking in public is anytime, any place anywhere. So the so that for my earlier story, I would say that it has to do with my mom, that’s the trauma, and what I feel like I’ve recovered from throughout the years, but my mother was bipolar, she had her highs, and she had her lows. And her highs, if you imagine why, you know, like the, the stem, and then two arms stretched up like that, when my mother was happy, that was her stance, and we have so many pictures of mom in that y stance. But she also had the depression stock side, really, really depressed. And in fact, when I was four, she went into a mental institution. Notice I’m saying institution, I didn’t say mental hospital. Because in those years, you know, the early 50s, when she was hospitalized or institutionalized, it was torture chambers, you know, she was housed with severely insane people. And all she had was depression. But they also gave her shock treatment. So there was a lot going on, you know, first of all, just mom disappearing. And then second of all, going to this institution trying to, you know, your mom, this person who’s supposed to care for you. In the beginning, we talked about welcoming you into the world, she wasn’t there. You know, it’s like, where is she? Where is she? Where is she, and my father was alcoholic, so he wasn’t so responsive either. So I would say that, in terms of finding my voice early on. The the trauma was mom not being there, in when she should have been but she was sick, she was mentally ill and had to go to this place where supposedly they were to take care of her and cure her. But her her episodes continued throughout my life. And I can talk about that later if you want. But the initial trauma was her leaving early in my life and disappeared.Anna Maydonova:
Thank you so much for sharing your story. And I can resonate with some of the past when you felt like you don’t have your mom when you need to hear the most. And it’s happened to me in some sort of degree, when my mom actually admitted that she knew what was happening to me. But she just, she just covered her eyes, because she couldn’t bear the thought of it. And so I just, I just said, I just thought if my mom doesn’t listen to me, who’s gonna listen to me? When was the moment when you understood understood that the communication skill, very important skills that you need in your life?Doreen Downing:
Well, let’s see, I think that I chose psychology partly be clip because it was just one on one. I could sit into an office with somebody one person at a time and help them self explore and solve problems, but put me in front of several people, even just a small group, my heart would be so loud, my ears would close up and my brain would freeze. It was just like drums, beating like crazy in my head. And that’s what kind of public speaking you might say, anxiety stage fright I had. And somebody asked me to present some of my research I had done as a psychologist at a conference and I said no way. I can’t do that. I’m afraid of public speaking. And the conference organizer actually confronted me and said that isn’t fair your business. And that was I felt like ooh, yeah, I’m hiding I’m hiding behind this PhD, is the successful psychologist, Hello World, look at me, but I was hiding that I had this fear. And that’s when I took my first course in San Francisco, how to overcome your fear of speaking up in public. And I ended up teaching that course, after, after about a year, but I realized that I needed to face my fear. And I think that, that moment of will, how does one face one sphere? They will they go to a class, you know, yes, I went to classes, I went to Toastmasters. I actually, truthfully, got better hiding techniques. I know how to do it. Beginning, middle and an end of a story. I don’t have a vocal variety. I know how to do all those kinds of performance techniques. But it hid inside that little voice. That little voice who had been hiding all her life, got her PhD got out into the world, but was still hiding. Isn’t that amazing? So then I took an inner journey. Yeah, that’s, that’s where I found my voice. And that’s, that’s what I’m so excited about sharing with people is that inside is where you have to go, and you have to go through fear. And I know that there are so many programs that say, feel the fear and do it anyway. But I really rather not feel the fear. Or at least have my strategies to be able to transform fear or anxiety pretty quickly, so that I can reach my essence, my authenticity, the word you use, and be speaking, having my own voice.Anna Maydonova:
And how does it change your life? How did it change of business?Doreen Downing:
Well, I think being a psychologist, I was opened, my door was open to anybody with any kind of problem, any kind of situation. But then I started to realize what I had learned about the essence of who we are, and I call my business essential speaking, because you speak from the essence of who you are, but you gotta find who, who it is in there. And so I have a process that I designed based on my own experience, of overcoming the fear, based on my expertise as a psychologist, and my training in mindfulness. So I get to combine all the things that I’ve learned into my this one program called Essential speaking and help people find their voice that way. And that’s, that’s I wrote a book, I design courses, I do 12 week, coaching programs, individual coaching, as well as group coaching. I do well, I used to do workshops out in the world. And I’ve traveled back and forth to Europe over a dozen times training this process. So it’s definitely International. And I’m, I feel like not only have I found my voice, but I’m helping other people find their voice and speak in a way that’s pretty well lined up with who they are, who they’re meant to be who they’re in the world to be.Anna Maydonova:
That isn’t that amazing? Isn’t amazing feeling when you finally can, can be free to do what you really enjoying to do.Doreen Downing:
Yes, that’s an interesting word. Because when I thought about coming and talking to you today about trauma, and I thought about my mom, who when I was actually closer to 50 years old, who was staying with me because she was in one of her depression moods. And I came home and the house was dark, and I went into the living room and she was on the floor. I thought she was dead. She was unconscious. And of course I call the emergency medical people right away. And he when he came in, or they found pills that she had, obviously taken so it was a suicide attempt. And I thought about well that that must have been traumatic, but in thinking about talking to you today I went that wasn’t that wasn’t so traumatic. And I realize this is just thinking about coming today. I realized But finding my mother almost dead with an overdose, a suicide attempt did not faze me that much, because that’s what I’ve been living with all my life is her ups and downs, ups and downs and do the next thing, save her life, take her to the hospital, and she was on. She was in ICU for several well for a couple of weeks on life support systems. And my sister and the other family said, we’re going to pull the plug tomorrow. And I said, No, I’m going to save her life. And I went in that evening, and I talked to her I mean, she was totally conscious still and life support. But I, I spoke to her in such a way that the next morning, she started to come back to her own self. So there’s, there’s something and that has happened several times in her life where she is close to death, I go to her or I go to when I was in the Peace Corps, I went to the tribal medicine man. And because actually what she said about that first experience being in the mental institution that the thought of me and my sister brought her out. So I think early on, I mean, there’s good news about me feeling powerful, like I could save my mom’s life or, but on the other hand, there was kind of a little too much of that, I think, you know that I took on a lot of responsibility for my mom, wife, keeping her alive, making sure I called her every morning. And I can tell you that I would know what her mood is, I was that sensitive, how many rings, how long it took for her to say hello. And before she even said hello, I knew what her mood for the day was going to be. Just like that. I became that sensitive. So there’s the trauma part of it, but your program is about recovering from trauma and making it being your superpower. Right? And I feel like my sensitivity is my superpower, am I am I listening into people and where they are what they not saying are their pot their pauses I could listen in such a way I could to in so this whole idea that Laban ditchburn talks about is the gift of adversity that I feel like in preparing for today, I’ve really come to realize that even though she had her her troubles and I was traumatized by that, I became very skilled at several things, you know, like that for listening in the sensitivity and finding your voice?Anna Maydonova:
The rain? Wow, what a story. And it it I know it would probably it would feel terrible. I can’t even imagine to find my mom committing suicide. Honestly, I love your sunlight. And you are so so right. These are moments that that are teaching us something. And instead of just being a victim in the victim mode, it just look at this moment like you did. And see what are the skills? What are the learnings? What what is the knowledge I possessed from this experience? I’m not saying it can something can be very positive. I’m saying that if you find this strength to forgive your mom for what she did to you. And if you find the strength to forgive yourself, the whole new world will open up for you. You can take those skills you can take those those knowledge and share it with people who are, say 10 years or 15 years younger than you who is in this bubble in struggling in battling. And you can you can dream you are the light in the end of the tunnel. The way how you took your experience and turn it into your superpower is just amazing.Doreen Downing:
Well, thank you. Thank you. Yeah, and this whole idea about finding your voice when grandma was taking care of us when mom was in the hospital. Later on, she, when when mom came back, my grandma would say be quiet or your mother’s going to go back to the hospital. So that kind of, whoo, I better shut up, I better not say anything, I better not be fighting with my sister or playing loudly. So I had to learn how to tap my self down so that my mother didn’t get sick again. And so that’s one of the, you know, I talked very in the beginning about the roots of where we lost our voice or where it didn’t get a chance to develop. That’s one of the ways in which I remember my grandmother telling me to shut up, basically. But I have to tell you something else that I learned in around superpower inside the house, it was dark and quiet and depressing. Outside, just outside the front door, my grandmother had red roses. And she had gladiolas. And she had birds, and she had geraniums, she had just abundance of life. Right, growing just on the other side of so here’s the door. Outside is beauty, and magnificence and Grove, and inside is well depression. And so I think that’s, you know, the idea of me having a superpower is, I know that people may be feeling you know, the depression or whatever it is that keeps and holds them back. But I also believe I believe so strongly that just outside another window is possibility is beauty is the Garden of Life. And I know how to get them help them get there so that I really like your, your philosophy of taking something that’s been hard or difficult and just going wow, it’s it’s a superpower.Anna Maydonova:
And they love your analogy. I love it. In the rain. I just I just had this question. What would be your best advice to parents who want to help their kids to become confident speakers? Well, theDoreen Downing:
first thing that comes to me is get on LinkedIn and go look up Joe Perone. Premium, he’s an amazing dad. And yeah, social media is supposed to be all about business. But his business is about, you know, having a life with those who matter and his children matter. And I think he’s a terrific model of that. So yeah, it’s it’s making a commitment to children to be the greatest listener in the world for them. You know, a parent being the world’s greatest listener for your child, or children. Yes.Anna Maydonova:
That’s so true. Thank you so much. I’m there in I wanted to share with you one of the moments of my life. A few years ago, I was looking for a new job. And I was ready to to upgrade my role. And I really wanted to work for a large corporate organization. But the fear of job interview was just making me feeling literally sick in my stomach. It was the most terrifying thing for me to go through the job interview. Later on, I realized I had the fear of authority men. I couldn’t stay in the same room with them. And second, I was I think I was trying to police them to answer the question. The on the way, how I thought they would like to hear it. But anyway, of course, I passed a lot of job opportunities. And what would you say to a young women who are struggling with fear of doping interviews? What would be your best advice?Doreen Downing:
I think you just gave it. It’s knowing you have a fear but turning around and asking yourself specifically what their fear is. Is it of men? Is it of authority figures? Is it of trying to get the right answer? Is it that you’re going to be rejected? And I know that I don’t usually just give it to you Like, you know, take a big breath and do it anyway. Because no, no. And I think that learning to find the strength inside of yourself is a process. And I would rather encourage people who have that kind of fear to take, you know, find somebody find somebody like me, that’s going to help them transform that energy that’s blocking them, not just put on some nice, you know, lipstick to look good. Or take a breath to feel like you’re calm do system. But to really go through a change. If you’re afraid of an of sick of being in an interview, there must be other ways in which you’re afraid to be seen and heard. And I’d rather have a more full, full body transformation. So I guess I have to say, find somebody like me or a coach that’s going to help you identify specifically what those fears are, get at the root of them, and do the healing work that you need to do. And find your voice, which is the word that your true strength is, is your authentic voice. And it’s in there, it’s in all of us. We’ve had to hide it for various reasons. But you know, you you’re doing this work with people and helping them or inspiring them with looking at their strength. And all of us, I think, is really important. So that’s fine. SoAnna Maydonova:
this is, this is brilliant, because you can’t see the picture while you’re in the frame. And the coach is the person who can help you to identify the core, the the Reason or Reason of your fears. And I realized I probably won’t get a job until I sorted myself out from inside. So similar to you, I found the public speaking, masterclass is called she talks in Melbourne. And what struck me the most on my first masterclass, which I had to drag myself into, because I was so terrified again, she mentioned that she went through a childhood sexual abuse, I just realized it’s not something about me externally, how I look like how old I am, whether I’m from Russia, whether English is my second language, that’s all thoughts I had before the interview, it’s something inside. And in yours, you’re so right, until you until you find out what was the reason of the fear. That’s when the whole new world opens up for you.Doreen Downing:
Freedom, freedom.Anna Maydonova:
And you know what, you know what’s happened. First, I found a wonderful job. And my relationship with Laban. To and completely. He finally saw me as I don’t even know how to explain, she saw me as a new woman. And my question to you during how important is to have your voice in the relationship? Well,Doreen Downing:
I, I believe that I found my husband because I found my voice to I have a similar story of that. But that’s a different day to tell the story of how I finally got married at age 60 For the first time. Yay, is right. But I think but I think that self knowledge, you know, because they say Know thyself, and knowing the ways in which you get in which fear gets activated for you what you’re really getting at the roots of your own story around fear and trauma, that’s one thing, but to go and know that inside your being, your state of being your essence is where your strength, your power, your beauty, your magnificence, your brilliance, all of the good stuff is in your essence in your being state and being able to access that and have ways to instantly like in a snap of the finger go forward. I’m feeling a little palpitations in my heart. Breath down. Oh there I have landed back in my essence and I am fully present right here right now. I am in the center of now. And my voice comes up from there and that is what I want. I feel like you’re saying and what we’re talking about today is, wherever you go, then you have you, you have your essence you have your being, and the voice is there. And it’s not necessarily getting on a stage and speaking to your presentation. It’s an interview. It’s just you and I talking today, connecting, listening, speaking, being you and I are being together.Anna Maydonova:
That’s exactly how I feel. No way. I can start the podcast two years ago. No way. Marine. Who is the person that motivates you? The most?Doreen Downing:
His name is Earl Downing. My husband. Why is that? Oh, wow. He is all those beautiful things I just said. It’s the kindness, Scott brilliance he’s got. It’s just good in every cell of his body. And I’m so lucky that I waited. I had a book on my shelf said you can’t hurry love. And we didn’t get together until I was in life. Well, actually. Actually, after that suicide attempt at my mom, you know, things started to change a lot more than and he came into my life. It’s a longer story. But we were reading knew each other when we were 10 years old. went to high school together, although we weren’t sweethearts, but so I know him as a little boy. And I think that feels like I know, you guys.Anna Maydonova:
It’s meant to beDoreen Downing:
yes. meant to be. And I think that, you know, like you and your partner. Mr. ditchburn? Yeah, you know, that the what draws us together, when it’s a healthy kind of being drawn together, like you and I have been talking about the essence, connecting and you’re talking about voice. When we’re more connected to this state of being we’ve we resonate better with the people who we’re meant to be with. And when we aren’t connected with our authenticity, we get into patterns, bad patterns with that. Bad combinations with I’m not gonna say bad people, but just bad combinations. And I’m sure there are plenty listeners know what that means.Anna Maydonova:
And you’re so right to have a partner who is in your corner, Ride or Die is so so important. So that’s really, really wonderful. One of the, I think, seven secrets of fearless speaking. That your wonderful author of you saying? speak from your heart.Doreen Downing:
Yes. Oh, that’s beautiful. I’m glad you you picked up on that one. There are seven olan that I discovered on that inner journey to my being state where my strength is, you’re right. And I actually, it’s your core strength. And my core strength is my heart. And I’m not sure it’s everybody’s core strength. But I might guess it is if people can find their way into their heart. But the, the layers, and you probably have layers of letting people close to your heart. And this is how it feels like it’s all coming together right now is when you’re when you’re in your being state in your in your heart, you’re more open, and that you’re more open to love and be loved. And the voice comes from a loving place more and you hear love more because you’re open. But my seven secrets about this whole idea about finding your voice. The last one is be yourself. And the reason why I have it last, because so many speaking programs say just be yourself. But what you and I are talking about the kind of self that deeper and more resonant and grounded and based on your core strengths, the kind of experience you’re talking about in terms of finding your voice. You have to discover it. And so my first secret is stillness or taking a deep breath Right now learning how to find that still strength inside of you. And the second one is being present. I can go, I could talk forever on each one. But I’ll just say the present and softly gaze like you and I are doing right now you aren’t staring at me. Your gaze is allowing me to feel like you’re receiving me. And there’s a kind of a listening that we’re both doing. And I feel like you’re you’re radiant was so that this is a tip for people who are afraid is when you look at people look at their beauty or their radiance. Don’t look at what you think they might be thinking, which is their judgment. And even if they are judging, you can still look at how beautiful and how good they are. And then connection is the next one. So yes, all seven secrets lead to pretty much find your voice change your life. Thank you for mentioning those guy. I was talking about trauma, I didn’t realize that I also have all this all this information to pass on to people around how to find your voice.Anna Maydonova:
Nine those seven secrets. They are amazing. And I’m actually applying it right now. And just before we go, I have a tricky question for you. Knowing what you know now, what would you say to your 30 years old self?Doreen Downing:
30 years old and I was working in a in an Electronics Factory on an assembly line organizing women to take power and being part of a union. Let’s see she Oh, yeah, that was just right. Before I even started any in this thing? I was actually yeah, I’d already got that’s uh, I’m sorry, I’m just kind of reflecting back on her 30 years old. I guess I would say to myself, I don’t necessarily mean I’m saying this to everybody, but I am saying you live your path will continue to open, stay open, continue to explore, continue to move into the new moments with great curiosity and passion guess I would say? Also, I didn’t know how powerful I was, then. I would probably say you’re powerful. And if you don’t know it, now you will soon.Anna Maydonova:
I’m in I have goosebumps. Wow. The rain? Wait, wait, can we find you?Doreen Downing:
Well, I have my website. And it’s essential speaking, calm, essential, which is you know, the whole what we’re talking about essential speaking.com is probably the best way. You know, people can get those secrets we’ve talked about at Doreen seven secrets.com. If they just want to go and get those right away, you can do that. Or you can go to my website and see all my programs and choose to engage with me people could make set one one session at a time or join 12 week programs.Anna Maydonova:
Amazing. Amazing. The rain. Do you have any concluding thoughts?Doreen Downing:
I would say that it feels more like my engagement with you today has is what I value most right now. And so I think that the concluding thought has to do with every, every time you’re in front of somebody you have an opportunity to speak in public. And are you grounded? Are you connected? Are you in your heart? Are you open? Are you listening just like you said a few seconds ago that open expansive, deep listening? And are you really truly they’re engaged? And with Are you really with the person? And so that’s what I feel like you and I have demonstrated today is just really being with each other. And this is public speaking HelloAnna Maydonova:
That’s Wonderful. Thank you so much during ladies and gentlemen Dr. Doreen Downing.