You watch your coworker as he speaks to the group. You don’t hear a word he says. Your turn is coming, and you are terrified. Everyone’s ideas are going to be better than yours. Your voice is going to shake, so will your hands. You will probably turn beet red, or worse, you will get that blotchy red rash going on. Oh, so attractive. The inside of your mouth is a desert. You try to breathe slowly to keep your heart from pounding right out of your chest. Why, oh why must you be so afraid of what others think of you all the time?
Anxiety, in all its forms can be a very hard thing to deal with. It can be downright debilitating. There is hope though. You can work hard at changing your thought patterns to lessen the symptoms of anxiety, and to free yourself from the nagging worry that often occurs after anxiety provoking events.
Here are 5 ides to help you cope:
1.) Realize that humans by nature are self absorbed:
They are far more concerned with the details of their own lives, and what your opinion is of them, than what they think about you. Consider yourself, and you’ll know this is true. Unless you burn with hatred for someone, or are madly in love, you really don’t spend very much time thinking about any one person. As you fret, going over conversations in your head, wondering if someone hates you, there is a very high chance that they aren’t thinking about you at all. Try your best to remember this.
2.) Throw those thoughts in the river:
Every time you catch yourself stewing over someone’s opinion of you, take a deep breath, close your eyes and visualize a river, or a train. Picture the movement of the river or train, and picture yourself holding the nagging thought in your hands. Then, inside your mind, throw the thought into the river, or train, and watch it travel away. This might sound silly to you, but give it a try. I learned this technique from my therapist, and with practice, I found it to be quite helpful.
3.) Challenge your thoughts in a journal (and when you get good at it, in your mind.):
Write whatever troubling thought you have down on paper. Then, write all of the evidence you have for this being true (Do you even have any?) and all of the evidence you have against this being true. In the against section, make a good long list of positive things others have said to you, and positive things you know to be true about yourself. Cancel all of the negative thoughts out with lots of positives. Try to think about the situation as someone on the outside would. Hopefully, this will help you realize most of the negative thoughts come from your imagination.
4.) Accept that you do not have the power to read minds:
No matter how much you analyze, no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to know for sure what someone else is thinking. It is a terrible waste of energy. I know it’s a habit that’s hard to stop, but it is definitely worth a try. When a thought crosses your mind, ask yourself, “Am I trying to mind read?” And realize you might as well be trying to soar through the air like Superman.
5.) Consider the worst case scenario, and then search your heart to decide if it truly matters:
So maybe that lady you bumped into at the mall does think you’re an idiot. Maybe that coworker was laughing at your blotchy face as you did your presentation. But really, what do these people actually mean to your life? Are they going to be on your mind when your time here on earth draws to a close? Do these people, and their opinions matter in the big picture of your existence?
“Be yourself, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Dr. Seuss was a very wise man.
Thank you so much for reading.
Be Brave, and Talk