Do Something that Terrifies You
Most people shy away from doing things that terrify them. The issue with this is that sometimes scary things must be done. And sometimes scary things need to happen in order to grow.
Different things terrify different people. Some folks are scared of public speaking, while others are just mortified by the idea of going on a blind date. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Drama Therapist and Coach, my clients often come to me to talk about the things that frighten them. My job is to help them understand where that fear comes from, and to employ practical ways to combat that anxiety so that my clients can live the fullest life possible.
Whether it’s making a presentation at work, testifying in court, or going on a first date; there are tools available to help you put your best foot forward…even when you are petrified.
Power Pose It Up
Amy Cuddy did an incredible Ted Talk about the amazing potential of power poses. Her research shows that when people position themselves in poses of power (good posture, hands on the hips, wide stance) the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood is lowered as is their anxiety.
Before you are about to do something that makes you feel scared, take a few minutes to adopt a power pose that feels good to you. You can do this in a bathroom stall if needed, or you can even visualize yourself in a pose if you are unable to get away.
The first thing I notice in my clients who have anxiety is that they stop breathing deeply. In fact, some people hold their breath. When you stop breathing, you are depriving your brain of oxygen. As a result, your anxiety increases, and your ability to think and reason decreases.
Pick a breathing exercise that you enjoy and keep reminding yourself to breathe. My favorite is an inhale through your nose for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds. Remember to fill your belly all the way using your diagram.
Pick an affirmation
Pretend that you are your best friend giving you a pep talk about this current situation and use a few of those words with your breath as an affirmation. “You are smart, capable, and confident.” “You are calm and eloquent. You got this.” Pick something that speaks to you and makes you feel better as you say it. Say it in front of the mirror a few times as if you are speaking to your best friend.
Play the Part
As a Drama Therapist, I talk with my clients about the roles that they play in their lives. Sometimes the most transformational role is that which one has yet to become. Visualize yourself doing the scary thing and adopt all of the characteristics of this role. How do they stand? Adopt that into your power pose. How do they speak? Imagine yourself speaking that way or practice speaking in this manner. How do they feel about what they are about to do? Put those thoughts into your head.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not in-authentic or “faking it until you make it.” It’s more like Amy Cuddy says, “Fake it until you become it.” I believe that if you can play the role, those characteristics reside somewhere inside of you. You just need the opportunity to discover it.