We have all experienced that overwhelming feeling at one point in our lives before a big moment, the mounting anxiety, palms sweating, dry mouth, and your pulse races, it’s a terrible feeling and one that can leave you traumatized and afraid of anything that might begin to reproduce it.
Unfortunately, growth only exists in those situations, when the body or mind has been pushed past comfort and forced to adapt, but, just plunging into those situations without some tools for success can be disastrous. Instead of emerging evolved and confident you’re traumatized and scared, the task was too great and you can’t possibly do it. You compare yourself to the best in the world at that particular skill and assume that they possess some unknown skill that you do not. Which is false, they have just practiced it more. So, if you are willing to try again, or for the first time, but are worried about choking work through our championship approach.
Accepting that you are experiencing anxiety or nervousness is the first step and perhaps the most meaningful. Be a realist, understand exactly what pieces are in play on the board and then begin to deal with them accordingly. No general on any field of combat is going to be afraid to hear what is opposition has in store, they welcome it. In addition to being uninformed, suppressing or attempting to ignore emotions is both mentally and physically draining when you should be spending your energy on the task at hand. Admit that you are nervous, even if just to yourself but if you can to someone you trust, it takes away some of the power that those feelings held over you, it takes courage to admit those feelings that courage will continue to grow and compound.
As hard as it may be to admit you are nervous – it goes against our natural tough it out attitude – appreciating the nervousness is even harder. It means that you are glad for the gut-wrenching, truly terrible feeling that is gathering inside our chest and how can we be thankful for something that feels shockingly similar to a mountain lion attack. Appreciation should be two-fold. From a biological perspective it means your body is ready, the onset of nerves also triggers a fight/flight response, your body understands the gravity of the situation and is ready to support you to the best of its ability.
The second reason is more of a mentality than a physical change, it’s because you care. Appreciate that the emotions are present because you CARE what happens! Caring means that you have committed to something and in a world so scared of commitment there is beauty in this. It’s you saying that I am enough, what I am is enough and I’m willing to show that.
The last section of dealing with nerves is where most people look first, which makes sense because it contains the actionable steps but unless you can acknowledge and appreciate the anxiousness you won’t be able to override or control the feelings. There is no right answer for how you best mitigate the negative effects of nervousness, everyone is individual and will react differently but below are the three tactics that we find most helpful.
1.) Preparation – An Ounce of Preparation is Worth a Pound of Cure – Ben Franklin
It’s very hard to feel confident about a situation and avoid crushing nervousness if you have not done the proper preparation. Just like the final exam we mentioned at the beginning of this article you have to study if you expect to pass.
2.) Breathe – It seems so simple but our breath has a huge influence on our nervous system through the Vagus nerve. When we feel ourselves slipping too far into fight or flight we can manipulate our system and bring it back to a more restful state. Try using a 4 by 4 Tempo.
- 4 Second Inhalation.
- 4 Second Hold.
- 4 Second Exhalation.
- 4 Second Hold.
3.) Re-Frame – You are not the person your negative self would tell you. Imagine the internal conversation being one that you would have out loud with a stranger. You would defend yourself and never allow them to speak to you in a demeaning manner. We’ll use a quick example to illustrate the point –
‘Adrian, you suck and are a loser.”
‘I may have lost in the past but it taught me valuable lessons and I’m a better athlete now.’