Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a therapeutic approach focused on helping people identify irrational thoughts that lead to unhealthy emotions and unproductive behaviors. Irrational thoughts in REBT take the form of dogmatic statements such as "I have to do well all the time to be considered a success," or "Others must treat me exactly as I want to be treated." These statements qualify as irrational, because they leave no room for the ambiguities of life. No matter how competent we are, we'll still make mistakes. No matter what, at times, people are going to let us down, not meet our expectations, etc.
REBT can be especially useful when it comes to confronting anxieties as often our thoughts lead us to run away from confronting fears. Public speaking is a prime example as many of us are petrified by thought of presenting in front of a group. The irrational thinking might sound something like this: "I'm going to say something incorrect or stupid, and my audience is going to think I'm a complete idiot. I'll then become so nervous - my heart will start beating rapidly, my voice will tremble, I'll start to sweat - and the audience will recognize that anxiety and think disparagingly of me."
The goal would be to step in and correct some of the black-or-white thinking in those thoughts. For instance, just because someone makes an inaccurate statement doesn't make them an idiot. If that were the case, we could consider the whole human race as idiots. Rather, most of us speak inaccuracies from time to time mixed in with a whole bunch of correct or at least plausible statements. Even with some ill-conceived statements, chances are we are sharing a lot of good information with the audience.
And, what if our anxiety does become so overpowering that it manifests itself physically? Well, part of being human is being anxious and sometimes displaying that anxiety to a marked degree. It doesn't make us somehow less than the audience in front of us. Sure, we'd rather come across as self-assured, but we can't always feel that way. And, paradoxically, the only way to become more competent is to experience those moments of anxiety and learn from them. Perhaps we need to prepare more or check our facts better for our next speech. The best result will come when we find a way to keep that anxiety from taking over. As a result, we'll keep working at improving as a speaker and, through that process, become more confident. That's not to say we want to have to make a career out of public speaking, but maybe we are more than capable of doing it when necessary.