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
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.
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