Two anxiety-busting ideas

Let’s get real here.  Really, truly real.  And let’s do it by starting with this:  What frightens you? Freaks you out?  Leaves your palms sweaty, your mouth dry as whole wheat toast, your heart racing – and not in a good way?

Public speaking and snakes are two things most people fear — more so than death itself. But I’m convinced there’s something else that can be even scarier:  Stepping solo into a room full of strangers.  Especially when those who are already there seem to know each other and are deeply engaged in conversation.

Yikes.  What could be more daunting?

Since one of my passions is helping people move past obstacles to their connecting success, allow me to offer two ideas (borrowed, not my own)  that may help you deal with this potentially terrorizing experience — and others that may leave you paralyzed with dread.

Idea #1 comes by way of a recent blog posted by thought leader Seth Godin.  His idea is to take your fears and make them work for you by making a conscious and deliberate switch from anxiety (which focuses your thoughts on the potential negatives – most of which will never come to pass anyway) to the far more enticing and, dare I say, adventurous feeling of anticipation (which switches you over to the potential positives, many of which could happen if you only set the intentions and open up to them).

I read that and thought, “Oh hell yeah. I can do that.”

How about you?

Idea #2 piggy backs onto Mr. Godin’s advice.  Try what my friend, colleague, fellow author, and sometimes-coach Dianna Amorde of Inspired Leap Consulting tells me when I’m completely freaked out about something I have to face:  come up with questions that begin with a very innocent, but earnest “I wonder….?”  E.g., I wonder who I’ll meet today?  I wonder what I’ll say to start pleasant and even memorable conversations with interesting people?  I wonder what I’ll learn from someone I’ve never met before?  I wonder what fantastic opportunities will come about because I was courageous enough to do something I initially found scary? I wonder how I will totally own that presentation? I wonder how much fun I’ll have doing that triathlon next spring? I wonder what I’ll do when that water moccasin comes perilously close to my flip-flop clad foot?

You get the picture.

Try these techniques next time you face any intimidating social situation – or any intimidating situation period. Allow your imagination to partner up with courageous anticipation and the “I wonder” technique rather than letting yourself fall victim to the ugly grip of sanity-shredding anxiety.  With the Holidays upon us (a time that can be fraught with stress and anxiety), there could be plenty of opportunities to experiment and see how these ideas work for you.  Let me know how it goes.
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Wow!  I inventoried how many presentations I gave in 2012. The number totaled 22, ranging from a casual discussion with Concordia University’s Thrivent Scholars to a breakout session at the Texas Conference for Women.   How can I contribute as a presenter to your event or organization? Take a gander at the wonderful words my my clients and readers have to shared about my book The Intentional Networker(tm) and my sessions by clicking here.  Then let’s talk about possibilities for 2013.  To reach my office dial  512 418 0527

6 Responses to Two anxiety-busting ideas
  1. Janki
    December 12, 2012 | 12:27 pm

    When I started reading your post, I was reminded of a bit that Jerry Seinfeld does where he says that people would rather be in the coffin than deliver the eulogy! I don’t have that great of a fear, as a beloved 7th grade teacher of mine got me hooked on speech and debate. But, I do find that at times I get overwhelmed at events where I’m the “odd person out”, be it by age, gender, race, etc.

    I do find that your challenge mentality does work… WHO can I have a good conversation with? WHAT interesting new fact will I pick up? And, as you’ve talked about, being intentional has helped tremendously. I failed to do that at a holiday mixer I attended. I figured I didn’t need to because these were “my people”, but inevitably, I didn’t put it out there and my time wasn’t used well. Lessoned learned: ALWAYS be intentional.
    Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next year.

    • pattid
      December 12, 2012 | 1:32 pm

      Thanks, Janki. It really does help to be intentional and at least consider what good can come from even a stressful situation. And, yes, I WONDER…what I’ll put out there (and experience) in 2013!

  2. Thea Wood
    December 12, 2012 | 12:51 pm

    Patti,
    Thank you for a very useful article. I’m sharing this with my husband who suffers from high anxiety before events where he may not know people. And I’m a huge Dianna fan 🙂

    • pattid
      December 12, 2012 | 1:32 pm

      Hi Thea! Do let me know how these tips work for you husband.

  3. Bridgette Beinecke
    February 28, 2013 | 12:42 pm

    Patti, THANK YOU for these tips. I do not know why they showed up today. I consider it very serendipitious. I expect to put them to use this afternoon (2/28/13) at an interview for work. I joyfully anticipate and I wonder what new information I will learn. I will let you know how it works.
    I also want you to know that I gave your name to Barbra Boeta and Al Lopez at eh Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI) at 1144 Airport Blvd in Austin. I suggested you as a great speaker for their student entrepreneurs who are or have already started a small business. Warm regards,
    Bridgette

    • pattid
      November 7, 2013 | 12:21 pm

      Bridgette, Thanks for this! I am just now reading your comment — November 7. Either I’m very slow or internet gremlins are it again. Likely, both! Hoping things are going well for you and I am glad what I write is helpful and timely.

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