Welcome to the first blog in the series Six Tools to Build Self Confidence.
Believe it or not, anxiety is a normal aspect of everyday life. It is the mental state that gets you to an appointment on time and enables you to remember all the things you have to do. It’s a state which keeps you alert and able to function at a high level of effectiveness.
You can use it effectively in a job interview for instance – it can motivate you to do your best and make a good impression. It can push you to work harder, achieve more and receive rewards you seek.
In the short term, anxiety will increase the frequency and depth of your breathing, meaning that you will breathe quicker and shallowly. Faster breathing is designed to draw in more oxygen and make that available to your brain and your muscles – so that you can flee if you need to. The shallow breathing comes from the constriction of the chest cavity and muscular tension – which is not beneficial long term.
Long term, the effects of anxiety can be detrimental to your overall health of course. You can start to feel lightheaded and even sick in your stomach. It can affect your libido and your ability to function. Over time it can cause you to feel depressed and demotivated.
There are general physical aspects of fear but we are all different and experience it in different ways. When I am anxious I become rigid, especially in my jaw, shoulders and neck.
When you recognise your physical response to fear, you can understand how you are fearful. Why you are fearful is known to you if it is a conscious fear – we can also have sub-conscious fears that we are unaware of, I’ll be covering that in a later blog. When you understand how you do something you can manage that behaviour and change it.
The physical response to fear is created by adrenaline and cortisol, the fight/flight hormones, flooding your system through an impulse from your brain. This is designed to enable you to respond to a threat.
If you can recognise your physical symptoms and then change your mental state when experiencing a low level of fear then you will be able to tap into the possibility of excitement.
Excitement is a mental state but it also affects the body. It begins in the brain just like anxiety. The four main chemicals excreted that influence our happiness (absence of anxiety) are dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins.
Excitement can also be experienced as ‘butterflies’ in the stomach, trembling, weakness or sweaty palms. A similar response to fear. When we are excited by expressing ourselves congruently, pitching our business or asking the girl out, we are creating a similar physical response to fear.
You change your mental state and accept that being out of your comfort zone is going to create feelings of anxiety. The key is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
If you understand your physical response to anxiety and fear you can change your mental attitude to embrace the excitement and manage yourself differently.
When you are excited about riding a roller coaster and I am fearful, we experience the same exposure to risk and the same physical experience but a different mental state.
Imagine you have achieved the fearful thing. How good are you going to feel?
When we are on the edge of our fear it could be argued that we are vital and energised and motivated to take a risk – rather than pulling away and hiding. The simple technique of recognising that you could choose to be excited can enable you to respond in a way which allows you to access your courage and find your genius.
Next week I’ll be looking at breathing and how we can utilise our breath in difficult situations.
If you would like support to stand in your fear, find your courage and be confident, book a Discovery Session or give me a call on 01424 773 988.