You're already brave
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately and how, at this time in my life, I feel anxiety in almost every situation. I do my best to not let it affect me (I try to keep it trapped in my head), but I’m not always successful. I totally have that physical reaction to stress where I can feel my heart start to race, my neck gets sweaty and I can’t decide whether I want to cry or do jumping jacks. I have been talking to a lot of my peers about it, trying to understand where this anxiety is coming from and how other people are interpreting the way I display it.
I’m learning that everyone is anxious about something and I want to figure out how it can be controlled. This is a constant conversation I have with myself and it is one that keeps my brain running in circles at night. Here are a few of the ideas I've come across so far:
Everyone’s challenges are different. For some people, the idea of walking into a room alone and having to network causes them to break into a cold sweat. For others, the same is true at the idea of stepping onto a plane. But you have to do what you have to do and more often than not, you have the guts to suck it up and step forward. That doesn’t mean your anxiety goes away, it just means you aren’t letting it control you.
That is resilience – and you are much more resilient than you realize. The fact that you are doing things that make you nervous every day is something to be proud of because it means you’re challenging yourself.
Growth is hard and it takes willpower. Willpower is a muscle that you have to exercise daily. It’s hard to sit back and realize what you’re accomplishing if you’re too focused on the scary things that are coming your way. Appreciate your resilience and let it make you confident. Your anxiety won’t disappear, but if you have a healthy perspective, it won’t cripple you.
Stress is… good for you?
What if you looked at stress as a positive emotion, as if it were similar to joy or passion? What if you looked at it as a helpful response that gets your body energized and ready to tackle a hard task?
How you think about stress matters. Some of us need to get better at understanding stress - not necessarily get rid of it.
In a TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal, she cites a study where a sample of people who have relatively high stress levels were asked whether they think their stress will kill them. The study concluded 8 years later and the results showed that the people who believed that their stress was bad for them had a higher death rate. Chilling to think about, isn't it?
It’s all about your mindset. The release of cortisol sometimes causes us to perform better and sharpens our instincts. So what if we stopped being so afraid of stress and instead learned to manage it in a healthy way?
It’s about humility
This part is a little more personal. For me, it’s about the anxiety that is connected to my ego. Most of my anxiety stems from fear of failure. In a previous post, How to Fail, I talk about how we should not be afraid to tank at things, because that’s how we learn.
In my personal experience, that is so much easier said than done and I think I’m figuring out why.
It’s because I am scared of disappointing the people I respect. I’m scared of losing their trust. If I cared a little less about being perfect and a little more about how I am growing every day, I wouldn’t be as afraid to fall on my face.
This is how I’m starting to look at it: if I have a humble attitude then I have no reason not to be brave. It just means I’m not afraid of people’s opinions. I still respect what my goals are, I just don’t let the fear of failing at them turn into some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Also, people don’t care as much as I think they do - I’m the only one telling myself I can’t do great things. Is the same true for you?
Photo courtesy of Morgan Hydinger.