Everybody’s got anxiety. And there’s all kinds of anxiety from performance anxiety to separation anxiety. While anxiety can be cured with mind numbing pills and medications, these may have a side effect of cutting down on your ability to interact with others and get what you want out of life.
Life is Communication and Relationships
The true nature of life is communication and exchange. Ever since humans discovered agriculture, and realized we didn’t have to chase and kill zebras for a living, life became a little safer.
But instead of negotiating with herds of zebras and unfamiliar terrains, we had to learn to negotiate with each other. Most of the time this goes pretty good, especially if you’re dealing with familiar people.
But throw some unfamiliar people and situations into the mix, and things can get pretty dicey pretty fast.
Luckily, there’s some simple steps involving simple breathing and visualization that can dramatically reduce your anxiety, so you can interact with others socially, professionally and romantically to get what you want, and give others what they want at the same time.
Where Does it Come From?
First, let’s take a look at where anxiety comes from. It’s usually a mix of three things. One is something that you want. This is crucial. If you looked at a rock at the beach, for example, you wouldn’t feel any fear or anything since you aren’t particularly interested in the rock.
The first thing that happens, then is that you see something you want, and you have a quick, sometimes subconscious imagination of how wonderful it will be to get that. A good job, a good partner, or a good experience.
However, close on the heels of that wonderful picture you just created in your mind is a horrible picture of not getting what you want. Not only that, but it’s usually a picture filled with you not getting you want in a spectacularly embarrassing situation.
So, right off the bat, part of you is saying,
“Dude! Go for it! This will be AWESOME!”
While another part of you is screaming,
“Don’t do it! We’ll go down in flames! We’ll never be able to face anybody ever again!”
What makes this negative voice even worse is the oh-so-subtle “reason” behind it, which is usually some form of “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve it.”
Now the third ingredient of anxiety. Indecision. Because you’ve got two parts of you pulling you in two opposite directions, you don’t know which way to go.
Should you go for it, or try later? If you don’t go for it, what happens when you start thinking that maybe you could have gotten it?
If you do go for it and don’t get it, what happens when you later kick yourself saying you shouldn’t have even tried?
But then again, what happens when you go for it and get it? But what if you don’t?
This can quickly create some kind of self-fulfilling loop of doom in your mind where it feels like you’ll fail no matter what you do.
Sure, you can take medications to reduce those feelings, but that will just make you content to sit there like a blog, without ever wanting (or fearing) anything. Where’s the fun in that?
The first step is to remember that those two opposing thoughts, getting it or not getting it, are automatic. Our brains are programmed to think negative thoughts more strongly than positive thoughts, simply because that’s what kept our ancestors safe in the past.
Since we really don’t have to worry about tigers jumping out at us from underneath the table, we can use some more resourceful thinking.
Now, this is NOT some kind of magic trick, where you think some kind of magical thought and all your problems are solved. (I wish it were that easy, lol!)
But what you certainly CAN do is practice thinking positive, self affirming thoughts instead of leaving your brain to run around on its own.
Who’s Brain Is It?
After all, it’s YOUR brain, right?
So, how do you do this?
Think of one situation, right now, as you’re reading this, that has given you some anxiety in the past.
A situation that tends to come up again and again, this is important.
When that situation arises, what are some of the things you hope to achieve?
What are some of the fears that come to mind?
One way to decrease the anxiety is to think of each situation as practice for the next time. Instead of your caveman brain thinking that you’re in a life or death situation, recall to mind previous similar situations, and literally force yourself to think of potential future situations besides the one you’re entering into right now.
As soon as you get through the situation, whatever happens, do a “post game” breakdown.
Sit down with a notebook or something and write down what happened. Then write down what you wish would have happened. Write down anything you could have legitimately done differently, given your current level of skill.
Then take a few minutes to “re-imagine” that particular situation, only don’t remember it as it really happened, remember it as you would have liked it to happen.
This can be anything from holding eye contact a bit longer, or saying something a bit differently.
The truth is that life is a series of events. Once you build a habit of seeing each and every event as potential practice for the next one, the anxiety will begin to diminish.
Whenever you feel yourself getting pulled into that unhelpful oscillation, do some simple breathing.
Put your tongue at the roof of your mouth, and take a slow inhale through your nose. Then slowly let out the breath. Try and make the exhale a little bit longer than the inhale.
As you are exhaling, tell yourself that “this is only practice for next time.” Other positive statements can be:
“No matter what happens, I’ll learn something.”
“I choose how I think.”
“Everybody is just as nervous as I am.”
“Even world class athletes get nervous.”
“This nervousness is just extra energy to help me get through this.”
“I wonder how I can re-remember this later on.”
The truth about anxiety is that when you practice using your conscious mind, instead of relying on your instincts, it will quickly vanish.
This will give you much more power in your daily life to interact with others, and get what you want.
If you liked this article, consider signing up for our email. You’ll get access to plenty of helpful resources and tools that will help you get more of what you want out of life.