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5thGenTexan

Scouters With Anxiety?

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During the recruitment meeting I kept saying in my head "don't look at me, don't look at me" when they were talking about adult volunteers.  I have anxiety problems that seem to get worse when I am tired.  Surprisingly I have almost no issue when I am up in front of the boys during den meeting, or not much of a problem.  However, going to my first Roundtable last month was a different story.  Had the wobbly legs when I got there and was worried I was going to have to sit down during the Pledge of Allegiance...  they had Boy Scouts there describing each part of the Pledge as we went along.  Worried about BALOO, Woodbadge, and other day long training where I cant just leave if I go into panic mode.  I know it sounds weird, but...

 

Any others, or do people like me just typically not volunteer for leadership positions?

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Yes, many have issues getting up in front of people and talking. So you are not alone. I personally don't have any issues with it, in fact I am sure some folks wish I would just shut up at times. LOL.

 

But I have trained a number of people that range from uncomfortable to sheer panic and tears. Both youth and adult.

 

I suggest trying to figure out what it is that causes you such anxiety. If you can learn to overcome it you will be a great example to your youth that have exactly the same fears. In fact just the act of trying to overcome it is a great example.

 

Having spoken God only knows how many times, in all kinds of settings and with some outstanding speakers I can say this, everyone has fears of some kind, everyone screws up presentations, everyone makes mistakes. It is not the end of the world, nothing bad will happen. But you will almost certainly get better each time you do it.

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Being in Scouting for nigh on to 50 years now, it has helped me tremendously in public speaking settings.  In my job I was once responsible for a major military medical conference of nearly 3000 attendees.  During one of the presentations, the projector bulb blew and we had to call for the A/V contractor to come replace it, which took a few minutes.  The audience began chit-chatting among themselves and when we were ready to begin again, my right hand immediately went up in the Scout sign, which we all know means to quiet down and listen.  I just stood there...sure enough signs started going up throughout the room as the room went quiet!  There were enough fellow Scouts/Scouters in the room and they were elbowing their neighbors to shut up and listen!  It Works!  Just remember, in the Scouting environment, we are all friendly...no one is judging (or shouldn't be)...we are all just volunteers there to further the movement.  It is a safe place to practice social skills and public speaking skills.

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I always took this for granted, until I congratulated the SM for the minute he gave at his 1st court of honor in the position. He told me that was the first time he ever spoke in front of a crowd (scouts exempted). He said he was incredibly nervous and avoided public speaking like the plague since high school.

 

I would suggest confiding in a friend about your anxiety. Just knowing that someone in he crowd understands the challenge that you're facing might help. Simply put, it's nice to be prayed for.

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Well, from reading the OP a couple of times it doesn't sound like just a public speaking issue.  The question is talking on a leadership role which appears to be a daunting task at first.  Getting up in front of strangers is bad enough, but being in a leadership role has that many more options to stumble over.  Hanging out with a den of young boys is not the same as stepping up to CM.

 

I was extremely shy in high school and yet went on to professional ministry.  That 8 year struggle was difficult.  A couple of professors along the way helped make getting through a lot easier.  The first one told me that yes, everyone in the audience is a "stranger" and they are all thinking they were glad it was you up there and not them.  They will cut you a ton of slack on that alone.  As time goes on, those strangers, i.e. other scouters, become friends, it will be just like sitting around the campfire jaw-jacking instead of "public speaking".

 

The other professor suggested that there will be a tendency to feel everyone in the audience is "judging" you.  Well, if possible always have a trusted friend in the audience, spouse, buddy, ADL if you're the DL, and tell them you want an honest critique of your efforts afterwards.  Now you KNOW there's someone who will be judging, but you trust their opinion over anyone else who might say something afterwards.  No one ever does, but that's beside the point.  :)

 

As far as taking on a leadership position aside from the public speaking issues, as long as one has a sincere desire to help people at all times, one can't go wrong.  Sure, there's going to be an occasional management issue that comes along, i.e. what do I do because there are a couple of scouts that can't get along with each other.  But if one genuinely cares enough about the situation that they worry about these two boys and want to help them be more successful, one will eventually become an excellent leader.  They don't call people their "beloved SM" unless there's some compassion and concern for them along the way.

 

The only thing to remember is that one's anxiety is self-generated unless the threat is real.  Anything that is self-generated is also self-controllable. 

 

1) Audiences are made up of strangers who think you know what you're doing or you wouldn't be up there and they are glad it is not them up there.

2) You have ally in the group that will give an honest critique to compare to any insensitive comments made by others.

3) If you care about people, Leadership is a piece of cake.

 

It reminds me of my seminary roommate who was unfortunate our senior year to be scheduled to preach on the day all the bishops of the church gathered to discuss and determine which graduate was going to be assigned to which district.  Just before the service I asked him how he felt.  He said, "If I can get through this, I can get through anything."  I thought he did very well.  His self-critique afterwards was far harsher that the reality of the situation.  Which means YOU are your own worst critic which is a good thing, because that is the ONLY part of the problem that is self-controllable.

Edited by Stosh

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For me, I went to Roundtable once and it was a lot of people.  I personally did not find a lot of value in Roundtable (as a Cubs person) and I wouldn't fault you if you wanted to skip out of some RT meetings. :)

 

Wood badge is cool.  If you go, just talk to your course director and let them know you have anxiety issues and I am confident they will help you and accommodate your needs so you can enjoy the course.

 

If you are good with the boys that's the most important thing!  

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Yep.  Been there, done that.   5thgen, you are not alone in your anxiety, altho your "attacks" may be more than mere stage fright.  Pro counseling has helped friends of mine.

Sounds like there are two types for you.  Being in a new group, and being the leader of the group. 

 

In the new group/situation, I am there to learn, to meet, to network perhaps.  I am no better or worse than anyone else there. Stick out the hand and make someone else uncomfortable in meeting a stranger... 

 

If I am there to share my expertise, I find that knowledge of my purpose/topic, up down, back front, helps with  my worry.  The Lord will provide, so to speak.  Rehearsal, both "real" in front of family, or a mirror even, can help.  Mentally going over the stuff I will be presenting helps.   Watching other presenters I admire helps.  YouTube !    Do not be afraid to copy techniques and  material.  Bogart will not complain if you mention that "we don' need no steenking patches "  one more time.

 

If you can share a joke with a coffee buddy, you can share a Scout skill with 25 or 200 Scout buddies.  You are here to help those Scouts be better citizens. I know you will do a good job.  

 

See you on the trail.  

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Having a child diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I can certainly empathize. I have watched him have panic attacks to the point of melting into a puddle of tears. I have also seen him overcome most of it and push through to become quite a community leader. 

 

I think that recognizing the problem and wanting to overcome it is a great first step. As others have mentioned, talking with a therapist is a great idea. You might even need medication at first. My son did but he eventually weaned himself off of it.

 

I think the most important thing to do is to keep trying. Thank you for opening up about your challenges to us. 

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Let's also not write-off your soul doing a reality check.

 

Maybe you should only go to one weekend training a year, because life is busy. Maybe you can only realistically give your den quality time and beyond that your family, job, or spirit might need a lot of attention, and if you commit to the 10 opportunities that come up at round-table that will have you "dropping the ball" somewhere else. If your personality has always been one to say "yes" then your stress response may be your body saying "no can do" on your behalf.

 

In this case, verbally saying "no can do" and turning down the people trolling for volunteers is less stressful. (As one who loves volunteering, I assure you that this is true.) But, if you're not used to ignoring other people's feelings, this can produce a lot of inner turmoil.

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Having a child diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I can certainly empathize.

Me too, and me too. My daughter is now in her early 30's and still gets anxious in certain situations, but she works in customer service (by telephone) and is being considered for a supervisory role, so apparently it can be overcome, at least to a significant degree.

 

5thGenTexan, for the Roundtable situation, I'm just guessing but it sounds like the issue there was being in a roomful of strangers and not knowing what to expect.  Did you have anyone with you who you know, like another leader in your pack?  If not, I think the next time you go to RT you should get one of your fellow leaders to come with you.  At least that way there is a familiar face.  The same would probably help if you decide to do BALOO, Woodbadge, etc.  Sort of an adult version of the buddy system, but for different reasons.   :)

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During the recruitment meeting I kept saying in my head "don't look at me, don't look at me" when they were talking about adult volunteers.  I have anxiety problems that seem to get worse when I am tired.  Surprisingly I have almost no issue when I am up in front of the boys during den meeting, or not much of a problem.  However, going to my first Roundtable last month was a different story.  Had the wobbly legs when I got there and was worried I was going to have to sit down during the Pledge of Allegiance...  they had Boy Scouts there describing each part of the Pledge as we went along.  Worried about BALOO, Woodbadge, and other day long training where I cant just leave if I go into panic mode.  I know it sounds weird, but...

 

Any others, or do people like me just typically not volunteer for leadership positions?

What level are you planning to lead at?  First, Woodbadge is never necessary for unit leadership.  Second, not every leader in the unit needs BALOO.  

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On ‎11‎/‎27‎/‎2017 at 1:39 PM, perdidochas said:

What level are you planning to lead at?  First, Woodbadge is never necessary for unit leadership.  Second, not every leader in the unit needs BALOO.  

I am a Den Leader for Tigers.   If I don't do it any everyone else does then I look like a jerk.  Everyone else in the pack is saying how great it is and I should do it.

On ‎11‎/‎24‎/‎2017 at 11:25 AM, NJCubScouter said:

 

Me too, and me too. My daughter is now in her early 30's and still gets anxious in certain situations, but she works in customer service (by telephone) and is being considered for a supervisory role, so apparently it can be overcome, at least to a significant degree.

 

5thGenTexan, for the Roundtable situation, I'm just guessing but it sounds like the issue there was being in a roomful of strangers and not knowing what to expect.  Did you have anyone with you who you know, like another leader in your pack?  If not, I think the next time you go to RT you should get one of your fellow leaders to come with you.  At least that way there is a familiar face.  The same would probably help if you decide to do BALOO, Woodbadge, etc.  Sort of an adult version of the buddy system, but for different reasons.   :)

 

CM was there, two experienced DLs were there as well as the other new Tiger DL. 

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On December 7, 2017 at 6:00 PM, 5thGenTexan said:

I am a Den Leader for Tigers.   If I don't do it any everyone else does then I look like a jerk.  Everyone else in the pack is saying how great it is and I should do it.

 

CM was there, two experienced DLs were there as well as the other new Tiger DL. 

It boils down to this ... you need a friend who understands your problem, who is willing to take BALOO with you, and is willing to escort you to a safe place (that could mean driving you home) the minute you start to feel weak knees. Odds are with that buddy by your side, you won't have a problem. But even if you do, you'll be taken care of.

You should feel free to turn down anything else until you have more positive experiences ... one step at a time.

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Given the situation, could one bring a friend (two legged or four-legged) along to a training course, who would not be taking the course?

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11 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

Given the situation, could one bring a friend (two legged or four-legged) along to a training course, who would not be taking the course?

Naw. The dog would have to be registered with BSA and take the requisite youth protection training!:happy:

As far as humans, that's not a bad idea if that person is a long-time trusted companion. However, 5thGen's situation is pretty novel to him, so figuring out who to "let in" on this is a challenge.  Establishing that one even has an anxiety disorder takes more than just one incident of panic. (It's enough to get an honorable discharge from boot camp, but not enough to determine a long-term treatment plan, a friend of mine learned.) So, I bet he doesn't want to blow this out of proportion. He needs someone who can be around for the worst case if action needs to be discretely taken, but will benefit from being at the course if that experience at roundtable is just a flash in the pan.

That said if he had a friend who wasn't a scouter but might be interested in seeing how things work, I certainly can imagine a compassionate course director.would be welcoming (and may have an FOS card to send home with the guest).

 

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