Dealing with anxiety is usually one of the toughest tasks when it comes to transforming yourself into the fully confident guy you want to be. Anxiety is a completely normal ‘thing’, it happens to everyone, even the president of a nation feels anxiety before giving a speech; well, unless he’s an alien (Which we all know a bunch of nation leaders are) – kidding!
The feeling of ‘I don’t how I should act in X situation’ or ‘Am I going to be good enough to handle Y situation’ is usually what will make you feel anxious.
The feeling of uncertainty in any situation; what’ll happen when you get to the bar to hang out with the guys from work or, how will you handle that attractive girl coming up to talk to you; causes you to feel like there’s a possibility that you could get ‘socially hurt’ anytime soon, as if there was danger hiding somewhere.
Your mind is SO powerful that it causes those thoughts to transform into physical symptoms; the fight or fleet response activates, and suddenly you feel that overwhelming emotion taking over. BOOM!
Here in Social Success Mastery I’ve discussed many times how to improve your skills so that you actually feel competent and confident and reduce anxiety in the long term.
But, what can you so if you are dealing with anxiety right at this exact instant?
So you’re waiting for your friends to show up at the coffee shop and they’re coming with some other people you don’t know.
You might not feel comfortable with meeting new people and feel a bit anxious, thoughts like ‘I shouldn’t feel anxious, I need to stop feeling this way’ might show up. Freaking out about this completely natural anxiety reaction is the wrong way to go.
Not accepting your anxiety usually just creates more anxiety and lowers your self-esteem. Fully accepting that ‘this is how I feel and that’s ok’ means fully accepting your momentary emotions and instead of beating yourself up for something you can’t directly control; you are indulging in self-understanding, self-appreciation, and of course building self-esteem as you accept this emotion objectively.
So you’re there in the coffee shop and your friend shows up with his seemingly douchy friend who isn’t even noticing you exist. Hey, this is not most people but let’s just paint this scenario for the sake of it.
Now you have to sit there awkwardly and quietly for everyone to notice that you’re typically quiet but today you’re even quieter. It’s just awkward and you feel your social value just going down the drain.
Let’s evaluate your options:
a) Run away.
b) Sit there and feel awkward.
c) Since you’re consciously building social skills and you are in your way to being a more confident guy; you work in your social skills while you’re there even if the situation is awkward. But you also give yourself permission to leave if you feel like enough is enough.
There’s a fine line between just escaping a situation out of ‘laziness’; and leaving out of integrity and knowing that you are there just because you’re willing to.
I regularly feel happy nowadays, I’ve set up my life so that I can feel as happy as I can all the time. I sometimes get mad due to external influences or whatever, I try not to feel angry but hey, it happens sometimes.
Same thing happens with anxiety, we all feel anxious at random times. When anxiety is related to social situations then we start missing out on a big chunk of what life is due to these negative emotions popping up.
Problem comes when you start thinking something among the lines of ‘I am anxiety’ Louis XIV style.
Anxiety is not a state of being, it is an emotion, just like happiness, anger, and joy. Whatever reason has got you to a position where it interferes with your normal life; and where it frequently pops up. You’ve got to realize that it’s JUST an emotion, and that like any other emotion, given the right conditions; it’ll appear or disappear.
Effectively dealing with anxiety means realizing that it’s not something you are, it’s something you naturally feel. Change the causes, not the consequences.
Anyway, since we are talking about the direct consequences let’s discuss what you can do to calm them down a bit.
Deep breathing is a powerful tool to reduce anxiety; it activates the natural relaxation response of the body.
Try inhaling slowly and counting to four, filling first your belly and your chest afterwards, gently holding your breath and mentally counting to four, then slowly exhaling again counting to four. You can repeat it several times.
Since anxiety means your natural fight or fleet instinct has been activated; activating the natural relaxation mode works to counter it.
Analyzing what thoughts exactly are producing all these anxiety emotions is a good way to look at it from an objective point of view.
“So my friend is bringing a stranger to hang out with us”
You get the general idea of how questioning your thoughts, objectifying them and what looking at them from the positive angle looks like, it helps tremendously when it comes to dealing with anxiety.
Getting used to seeing the positive in every situation, and not indulging in negative thought loops is key to dealing with anxiety and stopping it from even happening in the first place.
Read this article on positive thoughts.
When you feel fully confident and at ease your mind and body naturally will start to ‘live the moment’, no second thoughts, just plain living for what is going on right now.
This is actually what allows truly confident people to be at ease and act charismatic in social situations. And you can actually train your mind to ignore those thoughts of the future and the past and focus on the NOW.
Meditation helps you, I’ve started trying Mindfulness Meditation it's a great way of dealing with anxiety.
Take action regardless of how you’re feeling. You know you owe it to yourself to get some coffee with your friend. It has to be done, and anxiety might be telling you not to do it.
The key is to stop allowing the momentary emotions interfere with what you know has to be done.
Dealing with anxiety becomes a game of consciously working on the roots of the problem while also putting yourself in the situations that will help you grow, and also dealing with the conflicting emotions that shall arise from time to time. In the end it all comes together when you go out and get social!