Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.
If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
~Arthur Somers Roche
We all battle nerves and insecurities, and when we lose the battle, they rob us of our potential.
Personally I’ve battled insecurities quite a bit in my life. I know what it’s like to go from feeling as powerful as a lioness, to feeling as meek as a caterpillar. And when you feel meek, you act meek, and so people perceive you as such. Little do they know there’s so much strength inside of you.
I’ve had situations, one extremely embarrassing one in particular, where nerves and insecurities took me over so tremendously that I could barely speak. My body shook, my words stuttered, nothing I said made any sense, and my ego walked away with its tail in between its legs. Not my most impressive moment.
I’ve come a long way in learning how to fight my security attacking demons but it’s taken years to learn the tricks and maneuvers that help me find my strength when I feel weakness starting to surface. In a world where first impressions are so important, it’s so imperative that we put our best, strongest, bravest foot forward.
Below are some of my best tips for battling the nerves and insecurities that arise just when you really need to shine the most. Since I started using these tips I haven’t had one of those crushingly ego bruising embarrassing moments that I wish I could erase from my memory. And each tip is incredibly easy to implement so I hope they help you a bit as well.
1. Breathe Deep.
Breathing deeply is one of the absolute best ways to calm a nervous mind. Bringing in an abundance of oxygen deep into your diaphragm is a well proven way to reduce stress and anxiety (especially if you feel an anxiety attack coming on).
When we’re anxious we start to take fast shallow breaths directly from our chests instead of our diaphragms. This prevents your blood from being properly oxygenated which throws off the oxygen/carbon dioxide balance. This then signals a stress response which results in an increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension and other physical symptoms of anxiety. So when you’re starting to feel anxious you need to consciously ensure that you are taking deep, long, even breaths straight into your diaphragm.
If you have an interview, or you need to speak in front of a group, or you want to approach someone you admire, or any other situation where you feel your nerves and insecurities starting to take over every cell of your body, stop and take a series of long deep breaths (preferably with your eyes closed) where you hold the oxygen in your diaphragm for a few seconds each time before releasing it. There is no faster or easier way to calm yourself down.
It sounds too good to be true but trust me, it is so effective.
2. Check Your Posture.
When we’re feeling insecure, we often try to make ourselves appear smaller. So we hunch over, fold our arms, and let our eyes fall to the floor. Your body is simply responding to how your brain feels.
What I’ve found is that your brain can just as easily respond to what your body is telling it. So when you’re feeling your insecurities come on immediately check your posture. Are you slouching forward? What are your arms doing? Be aware of your body. Throw your shoulders back and extend your neck upwards as if a string is lifting you up.
If you can, do some stretching exercises before the event that’s causing your insecurities to rise up. Stretch with your arms out and open wide. In doing so you are not only relaxing your muscles but you’re also making yourself as physically big as you can possibly be. Instead of letting your body cower in fear you are using your body to tell your brain that you are big and powerful, tall and proud. You are worthy.
Another incredibly easy yet effective way to use your body to get your brain to relax – smile. Smiling is one of the most powerful ways to not only enhance the moods of those around you but to completely alter your mood in the process.
If you’re about to meet someone or do something that’s incredibly scary to you, start smiling. You may not feel like it, every cell in your body may be telling you that the last thing you want to do is put a smile on your face, but do it anyway. It will immediately relax you. It’s like a energy zap to your brain telling it that all is okay, there’s really nothing to fear, and you’re going to enjoy every second of what you’re about to experience.
Whether you’re feeling insecure, stressed, anxious, down, bored, whatever, just start smiling – big and wide – throw in a little laugh if you want to, you will immediately see things through a new, happier, more secure and relaxed light.
4. Remember A Time When You Felt Really Powerful.
Even the most nervous and insecure have had one time or another where they were at their best self, their most powerful, most self-assured, most secure. If you’re about to meet someone or do something that rattles your chakras, take a moment and close your eyes. Think about that time when for whatever reason all of your demons faded away and you were able to accomplish just what you hoped to accomplish, with an elegance and grace that suprised even yourself.
Who was that person? What allowed her to be so relaxed, so self-assured? What was she tapping into?
That person was you. And you were tapping into your core. The true essence of who you are before all the life circumstances and ego bruising mishaps came along that try to smother your true potential.
That strong version of you is still there, there are simply a few layers on top that you need to learn how to peel away. Picture yourself removing those dusty layers, one by one, so that the you underneath can shine.
So as you step forward into the big, bad and scary situation that has you feeling the jitters, picture the core you, dusty layers peeled away… the you that has shown so brightly in the past when you were feeling your best, picture that person stepping forward.
5. Accept it. Don’t Fight It.
When I used to struggle endlessly with nerves one of the biggest mistakes I made was to try and fight it. And so the internal dialogue would go something like this “Stop it. Relax. Calm down. Do not mess this up. OMG my body’s shaking, I’m not going to be able to speak, I suck.”
How do you think the end result of that internal dialogue went? Not good.
I’ve learned that if I’m starting to feel nervous, instead of fighting it and yelling at myself internally to calm the heck down (which only ever backfires), I’m way better off acknowledging my nerves in a loving way, respecting that they’re merely there to show me how important something is to me, and then giving myself permission to feel nervous.
We all get nervous, it’s human nature, by accepting it you can lean into it, gently and lovingly, and then it simply does not take you over. I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times by now – what you resist persists. Once you stop resisting you stop becoming your own worst enemy.
I’ve learned to accept my nerves so much that I can now even joke, with a big smile on my face, about my own nervousness. And shockingly enough, instead of feeling like it’s doomsday when my nerves start to overflow, it can even feel fun and exciting. Yup, I said it, it can feel fun and exciting to feel nervous – sometimes 😉
6. Ask Yourself These Questions.
A little perspective goes a long way. So whenever you’re feeling like your nerves are going to take you over, ask yourself what you’re really afraid of? What is the absolute worst case scenario? If that worst case scenario were to come true, would it be the end of your world? In five years, would you still be hating yourself for it? Would there be absolutely no lessons you could learn from it? Would it just completely annihilate your life?
Chances are, you’d live, you’d love and you’d move on. As they say, the greatest fear is fear itself.
7. Think About Who or What You’re Trying to Help.
Usually our insecurities come up when we’re hoping to get something from someone. Whether that’s attention, a better grade, a new job, a new client, admiration, applause, you name it.
The more we want something from someone the more reason for our nerves and insecurities to spike.
A very simple way to take the edge off of that wanting is to reframe it in terms of how you can help the person you’re hoping to get something from. Chances are you are in fact trying to help them in some way. Maybe you’re helping them with a problem, or you’re helping to make a discussion they’re leading richer and more interesting, or you’re offering the skills that could make someone’s life easier.
Reframe what you’re presenting so that you’re coming from a place of generosity. The less you feel like you’re trying to take from someone, the more you’ll calm down and present what you have to give in a stronger and more abundant light.
Nerves and insecurities come from a feeling of lack. Focus on what you have to give and how you can help and your nerves will fall to the wayside.
8. Don’t Over Compensate.
When we’re feeling really insecure sometimes we try to overcompensate with extremely bold statements and outlandish promises or we try to be someone we’re not, because heaven forbid we just be ourselves.
Remember your core, the true you, you at your greatest potential. That you is not flashy, cavalier or arrogant. That you is calm, composed, graceful, relaxed and strong.
If you’re being fake it will be transparent and will only increase your own feelings of lack. You are better than that. Use these tips and you’ll be able to shine just as you are.
Lastly, we’re back to the number one tip. If you forget all other tips above, just remember to take deep long abundant breaths into your diaphragm. That one thing alone will make whatever scary situation you’re walking into feel not so bad after all.
Do you struggle with nerves and insecurities? What tricks work for you?