Welcome to the fourth blog in the series – Six Tools to Build Your Self-Confidence. In the last blog, I gave you a very simple physical technique to ground you when in a state of anxiety or lacking self-confidence. It included the simplest technique of all – taking a breath.
In addition to taking a deep breath and noticing your body, I suggested that you notice your physical environment to challenge your anxious thoughts and fears. That technique is part of a broader therapeutic model called Gestalt. Gestalt means “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts”.
Gestalt psychology is a school of thought that looks at the human mind and behaviour as a whole. As we try to make sense of the world, Gestalt suggests that we focus on the whole rather than a very small component.
This week I’d like to apply the Gestalt principle to your thoughts.
Irrational fear is always in the future and usually starts with “What if …”.
- What if they laugh at me?
- What if I fail?
- What if I can’t deliver?
- What if they say no?
- What if I can’t …?
The next time you find yourself in fear or anxiety, listen to what you are saying in your head, what is your ‘what if’?
The objective of this week’s technique is to gain a different perspective on your anxiety and to establish a different relationship between what you are thinking and what is actually happening.
If you are standing in front of a room of people, all looking at you, listening to what you are saying you may think that they are thinking that you are any manner of negative things, which lead you to worry that they are going to laugh at you.
If you are pitching your business and you are nervous or anxious about going to see the prospect, you may say to yourself ‘what if I fail?’
If you are asking for the business, what if they say no?
In actuality, the situation you fear has not yet presented itself, it is simply a fear generated by a response to you that you have created or imagined. Of course, you can think about what you will do in that situation, to prepare, but be fully aware that it’s not happening at this moment. Unless you have a crystal ball you just don’t know what is going to happen, until it does.
When your fearful thoughts are in the future, make a statement which enforces the actual situation – the reality:
- “Right now everyone is looking at me and I don’t know what they are thinking.”
- “Right now I am preparing to pitch my business and I don’t know what the prospect’s
response will be.”
- “Right now, I am going to give this my best shot and I don’t know if I will succeed.”
Be mindful of the language you use and ensure that you make a factual statement.
In my example from last week: fear of flying, think about when someone is booking the aeroplane ticket – they may start to panic.
To counteract that panic they could say “Right now I am just booking the ticket.” That’s the reality, there is nothing to be scared about in terms of booking the ticket – the fear is in the future.
In most situations of anxiety, lack of self-confidence or fear, the reality is that we are safe and the thing we fear is not happening.
It’s a very simple technique and can be hugely effective.
Let me know how you get on with it. If you would like to explore this technique further, book a Free Discovery Session.