Do you remember when you were your most confident self?
Common advice in challenging situations when we’re afraid is to ask ‘what would [insert name of inspirational person] do?’
I think that’s a really helpful tool but it can also just emphasise the gap between where you’re at and where you want to be instead of bridging it.
So, what if you consult your past self at peak confidence instead. If you were confidence once you can be confident again.
When you find yourself facing a challenge think of a time you were confident or did something difficult in the past. Close your eyes, visualise it, feel that feeling and keep it with you for when you need it.
Maybe it’s the memory of the solo you did in a school play that you can apply to leading your first client meeting.
When you’re caught in fear or your confidence is low it can be easy to forget that you once felt otherwise and that it’s possible to overcome that thing that scares you and feel confident again.
They might seem the same but they’re not.
An anxious person will grow to become familiar with the feeling of anxiety and how it manifests in they’re day to day life.
And over time they may find that they knowing doing certain things will trigger there anxiety so they won’t do it.
But not because it’s dangerous or unsafe but because they’re afraid. And the thing with fear is that it’s a feeling and so even when in your mind you know it’s fine your body is sending signals that it’s not.
So just because you know yourself when you’re afraid it’s not the same as knowing yourself because you’re more than your fears.
Chances are there’s so many aspects of you that you’ve not given yourself space to explore.
If you’re wondering what she carries with her, the answer is fear.
It’s in her voice, the way she talks. You’ll hear the words not quite flow because she’s second guessing herself, so worried about not saying the wrong thing that she can never say the right thing.
It’s in the way she walks, with her head down and no eye contact. She sort of stomps along as if to make her presence known but all she wants to do is hide.
And if you watch her you’ll see it in the way she picks at her fingers, fidgets in her seat and constantly observes her surroundings as though there is something to fear.
But there is something to fear, at least there is in her world.
There’s mistakes, embarrassment and comparison.
And it’s in the way she moves. She’s so tense and rigid that it feels uncomfortable to relax her muscles.
She is so full of fear and she carries it with her wherever she goes.
If she could only let it go it would change her life and she knows it but she doesn’t know how.
Even when she can’t feel it, it’s still there lingering.
But most people have no idea and so they just think she’s a little odd but she’s just trying to be normal.
Sometimes bounce-back and sometimes give yourself time.
I dedicated a whole post to bouncebackability. It’s an important part of life and I believe that having the resilience to not let every little thing in life knock you about is useful.
But on the flip-side sometimes you just need a break. You need to eat good food, take a walk, relax, spend time alone, sleep, do something enjoyable, turn your phone off, sit in silence, take some deep breaths, get a massage or whatever it may be.
It’s not about wallowing but instead admitting ‘I’m going through something and I’m going to take care of myself’. Don’t be so quick to always bounce back to the point where you’re trying to bypass or ignore your feelings.
Just as ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’ is the same way you’re not you when you’re worried.
A person that worries chronically may end up having sleep problems, self-harming and developing fidget habits like pulling at their hair.
Those kinds of behaviours often end up overshadowing a persons core self and then others fall into thinking that those things are who they are.
But when you remove worry from the equation you feel a sense of freedom. You have room to maneuver, you have room to be.
You’ll feel like a whole new you and begin experience life in a way that is so far from what you’re familiar with.
Life will feel easier or at least much more manageable but it’s not that you’ll never worry again. It’s that the worry will come and pass like the flow of water rather than being something that stays with you long term and ends up being debilitating and reducing your quality of life.
If you have a worry habit, the idea of being without it probably sounds like bliss (with a hint of fear because you’re so familiar with worrying it seems strange to think about being without it.
It might be hard to believe but it is possible to significantly reduce worry and not have it as such a dominant part of your identity, you just have to figure out how.
Recent I found myself running late and so instead of getting the bus I had to get an uber to make my train on time.
And so there I sat in the back seat feeling slightly anxious and playing the soothing sounds of canon in d major over in my mind in the hopes that it would keep my heart palpitations at bay.
It was my fault that I was running late so I resisted the urge to ask my driver to step on the gas. Instead we made small talk and he commented on what a lovely name I had and asked me where I was headed for the day.
In the end I was earlier than I expected and my driver left me with some much appreciated words of positivity. And so as I headed into the station to platform 4 I decided to tip my driver.
When doing something new or something that you aren’t familiar with it’s easy to get caught in the anxiety loop of not being good enough.
‘I don’t want to lead this project because I’m not good enough’ or ‘I don’t want to contribute my idea because it won’t be good enough.’
But the irony is nobody is good enough out the gate. The trick is to focus on yourself, on being better than you were last year or even just yesterday.
And then bit by bit you’ll get better and better. And that will always be good enough.
…and do it anyway.
The feeling of fear often comes up in a situation that is new or when there is a level of uncertainty.
We forget that it’s human nature to have that feeling of anticipation and I think what we end up doing is confusing it for ‘danger’.
The kind of danger where fight or flight is necessary is much rarer than our minds will have us believe.
In your day to day life when was the last time you encountered something dangerous?
There’s space between all or nothing but sometimes we forget.
Which is how something like failing can feel like the end of the world.
I think the all or nothing mentality is what causes anxiety in some people.
It’s an over simplification of reality that holds little benefit.
Turns out this is a real word, not one that I made up!
It’s pretty self-explanatory:
a person’s ability to bounce back from a challenging situation
For example, you attend an interview and don’t get the job.
Do you wallow and internalise it? Convince yourself that you’re not good enough, that you’ll never get a job because if this job didn’t want you then there’s no hope left in the world and you might as well end it all now.
Or on the flip-side do you think ‘ Oh, that’s a shame, I’ll just find something else’ and continue your search.
The first reaction could take days for you to bounce back from whilst the second reaction shows minimal straying from your usual self.
The first reaction is pretty dramatic, but I’ve been there. A few years ago, I was anxious, depressed and unemployed convinced that my circumstances would never change.
My ability to bounce back was poor. However, I can now say that my bouncebackability has improved tenfold. If I found myself unemployed tomorrow it’d be a totally different experience.
It’s a mental thing really, you have to change the way you process things.