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Emails to my Therapist

Overcome Fear: A Trick I Just Discovered

The thought of running a group (in my case, a writing group) has always filled me with dread. This in spite of the fact that I love public speaking and working with writers one-to-one. 

I've always run groups, mostly when invited and mostly for a day or a week.   I'm fine while the people are there and the group/class is underway.    But the anticipation is hard  and has led me to avoid doing as much of this as I might have.

Suddenly a change…!!

Here are the steps that preceded it: 

*Sorting out the various elements of running a group that might be getting in the way.   (The question to ask: what is it about that?)

I found two things getting in the way of doing this kind of work on a regular basis.

 First, committing for the same time every week.   What if I were to get a chance to go to Prague or Rangoon on the spur of the moment and couldn't go because I have to be here for the group?  This objection was based on the assumption that: I can't let anyone down.

Second, (suddenly, I can't remember.  Weird!)  Well, it had to do with having to pay total attention for two hours to six people with sometimes conflicting wishes and having to referee whose turn it is to read, etc.

And that was all.

I didn't set out to change these things, but in a conversation with my long-term occasional therapist I said I can't run groups because I can't let anyone down.  He said, Yes, you can.   Which had no noticeable impact on me.  We went on to discuss other things.

*Asking myself: what sort of group would I actually like to work with? 

Realization:  three people, not the more traditional five or six.  That way everyone would have a chance to read every time and I would have no traffic cop duties.    

And what about letting people down?   Well, maybe it wouldn't be such a letdown not to meet for a week, especially if people are informed in advance and, of course, aren't charged.  (It's pretty grandiose to think otherwise)

*Letting the encouragement of friends move me in the direction I was semi-trying to go.  These include my (psychologist) husband, my yes-you-can therapist, fellow writer/teachers, and people who'd been saying they'd come if I built it.

*Starting to work.

So when I put together my email last week advertising my new group (Yes!! I'm starting a group!!), I said there's no charge for any time I'm absent.

I sent the first message out on Friday.  The three-person group was full on Monday.  Therefore, I started another one, which now has two people signed up.  

And:  one space is still open.  Please tell all your writing friends and email me if you're in the Raleigh, NC, area and interested:  [email protected].  It meets Wednesday afternoon 3-5.  The other group is Wednesday nights, 7-9.   Also, please let me know if you think you might be interested at a later date and I'll let you know when a space opens.  Or who knows, maybe I'll start another group.

The amazing thing:  I'm looking forward to this. 


Other good group news for central NCians:  my psychologist husband Bob Dick is holding one of his one-day seminars on self-hypnosis at our house this Friday, March 25.  As I've said here before, I went to one of these many years ago and started my first published novel the next day.




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Categories: conquering fear, strategy


  • aiki
    March 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm Reply

    very useful cognitive-behavioral & interpersonal approach to unscareing urself–it shd work for others too–i'll check into that all day hypnosis group.  tx!

    • Peggy Payne
      March 25, 2011 at 8:24 am Reply

      Thanks, aiki.

  • March 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm Reply

    Peggy, any possibility of starting an online group?  I am not exactly sure how you might work that out, but I would definitely be interested if you ever decided to do one!
    Best of luck with this!  I wish I lived closer than 3000 miles away!

    • Peggy Payne
      April 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm Reply

      It’s a good idea, Debbie. A webinar! I’m going to think about it. And I’d love to have you in it. I’m pleased that you’re interested.

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