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September 16, 2014

Nervous? Try This Trick

We’ve all been nervous before. For some, it’s a TV interview that makes us sweat, for others it’s as simple as selling at a craft show that gives us butterflies. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum and can tell you there’s one sure fire way that has helped. You’ve heard all the advice before; just imagine you’re talking to a friend, picture them in their underwear or the ever so helpful; just relax. These most likely don’t work when you’re in the midst of a nervous situation because they all tell you to do the same thing; forget the fact you’re nervous and focus on something else.

Have you ever heard the saying “what you resist persists”? I’ve found this to be true in many areas of life. The more you don’t want something, the more you focus on it and the more it appears. This is exactly what we do when we’re nervous. No one wants to be nervous; people make up a lot of excuses to avoid situations that make them anxious. So it’s only natural that we try to push those feelings away and will do anything to take our minds off them. But the trick is to do the opposite.

So what do I tell myself when nerves want to get the best of me?

Bring it on.

Sounds corny, I know. But it works. It’s the opposite concept of pretending you’re in a different situation to take your mind off the current situation. Embrace being nervous and don’t try to fight it. These feelings are going to come up whether you want them to or not so you’ll never win trying to get rid of them. Instead of trying to avoid them, ignore them or push them down only to have them come back up a few minutes later, invite them in and sit with them for a minute. The idea is to get comfortable with those feelings and allow them to leave so you can stick around and be present.

When we’re trying to fight nervous thoughts and feelings, all our energy and focus goes towards them. We’re not paying attention to what we should be doing or talking about and the more we notice that they’re not going away, the worse they get. Then we come to fear the symptoms of fear more than the actual situation that’s causing those feelings to come up in the first place.

When you stop and think about what’s making you nervous, it’s not usually the situation but more so the worry of appearing nervous. So when you can take a minute to focus on what you’re feeling, it takes your mind off of the situation and helps you realize that these feelings aren’t that scary after all.

Next time you’re about to go into a situation you fear, take a moment to sit and let the sweating, the shaking, the heart beating and the blood rushing to your face, do its worst. The minute you decide not to fight it and that you’re okay with it, you’ll feel an immediate relief.

If you’re in the middle of a situation and don’t have a minute to yourself, practice the same thing. Tell your nerves to “bring it on” and don’t focus on trying to stop them. Tell yourself it’s okay that you’re feeling this way and it will be over in a minute. Most importantly, stay in the present moment. Don’t let your mind wander off into “what if” land where things are much worse than reality. Stay focused on your surroundings and realize, you’re not in any danger.

Image courtesySicha Pongjivanich/

2014-12-04 09:57
Excellent post!
Made Urban
2014-12-08 10:28
Thanks Marilyn! So glad you liked it :)
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