Tips to Help A Friend With Anxiety

myselfhelpdiary dealing with anxietyIf you never experienced excessive anxiety before, then it may be hard to empathize with someone who is currently experiencing it. People who are anxious may seem worried about nothing, so it is tempting to ignore the problem. On the other hand, anxieties including OCD (obsessive compulsive behavior), post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder are the common disorders. Around 40 million adult Americans are suffering from anxiety issues yearly.

So how do you deal with a friend who is anxious most of the time?

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Are you confident?

You need a 7 Day BrainwashSelf confidence is one of the most important skills you can develop in your life, if you really want to achieve everything you set out to do. Do you consider yourself to be a confident person?

Confidence is developed and strengthened over time. For example, a dentist who has been operating her practice for a decade knows that she can effectively perform any and every routine that her clients might require. There is no doubt in her mind that the procedure will be a success and her confidence is literally at a peak.

That same dentist at some point in her career had to learn each procedure for the first time. Despite the studying and prep work, her confidence simply could not have been as high as it would after many years of experience and it is very likely that she experienced fear, anxiety and a total lack of confidence in the beginning.

Today, while this experienced dentist can perform her work with the utmost confidence, she may suffer from a complete lack of confidence in other areas of her life; such as singing in front of an audience or meeting new people at a networking event.

That is why it is vitally important for every person to literally claim their self confidence in every area of life where it is required. This means that if you have a big goal you are shooting for, realize that your main path to achieving that goal lies directly in the amount of confidence you have in yourself to actually attain it.

Take two people starting at zero each with the intention of making a million dollars in business. The first person has never run a business and has never made anywhere near that amount of money. The second person has built and sold a previous company for a million dollars. Obviously the second person has a much better chance at success because he has the confidence that it can be done.

Does this mean the first person won’t be able to achieve the goal? Absolutely not. But he must systematically build and grow his confidence to a point where the million dollar goal is believable.

By simply setting the intention to develop your own self confidence and then working daily on strengthening it, you can drive yourself towards any goal that you want to achieve in your life.

Take time to relax

You need a 7 Day BrainwashOne of the “personal skills” I have been working on for the past couple of years is my ability to not take things too seriously. There are so many events in our day to day lives that make us stressed out and it is easy to get wrapped up in the intensity of a situation. This is especially true in business situations but it can really apply to any area of your life.

If you allow yourself to be consumed by the stress, it obviously can take a huge toll on your well being. Here are 4 steps you can follow to stay calm and relaxed when a situation reaches a point of stress or intensity:

Consciously relax. You can literally reduce sensations of stress and anxiety if you force the muscles in your body to relax. The easiest way to do it is to start at the top of your head and focus on each area of your body. Make a point of relaxing any muscle that seems to be tense. In many cases, you will be amazed at how much tension you were holding onto (this technique works well if you are nervous before delivering a public speech as well).

Focus on breathing. Similar to the first point, focused breathing is a simple trick you can use to immediately reduce any tension you might be experiencing. Breathing into the stomach for a count of 3 and exhaling for a count of 6 will slow your breathing to a point where you will automatically start to relax.

Visualize something funny. This is a personal trick I use but it really works. The fastest way to move yourself out of a negative thought pattern is to totally replace the thought with something different. For example, if I am speaking with a customer who is angry, I might visualize myself interrupting the conversation so that I can break into a fast paced dance routine. Then I visualize the other person’s stunned reaction and I immediately feel like laughing.

Verbalize your relaxed approach. This is the key step in process. If you can demonstrate to the other person that you are not allowing yourself to get “out-of-control angry” and tell them that you intend to reach a solution without getting upset, they will often match your energy. A conflict can only escalate if both people are willing participants. By refusing to participate in the conflict, you remain in full control of the situation.

Next time you have a situation where there is conflict or an argument, try these techniques and see how much more effectively you can handle the situation.

Move Towards Your Fear

You need a 7 Day BrainwashThere’s no feeling like it. It is real and it is powerful. It creates intense physical sensations that cause our brains to scream “RETREAT”! It is also useful because it keeps us alert and keeps us safe. It is the emotion of fear and it has been one of my greatest adversaries.

Growing up, I was never once accused of being a major risk taker. I was not interested in being adventurous or exploratory. I remember being afraid to try the big toboggan hill, terrified of going on roller coasters and the thought of doing a student exchange program simply didn’t enter my realm of possibility. For whatever reason, I was very much controlled by my fears.

I’ll never forget a specific incident that occurred over 17 years ago. I was in grade 7 and my teacher recognized me as one of the top spellers in the school. He invited me to participate in the spelling bee which would take place in the auditorium in front of the entire school. I can still vividly remember the crippling sensations of fear as I visualized myself spelling a word incorrectly in front of the entire school. Without hesitation, I declined his invite and told him “it’s really not something I’m interested in.” Yeah right! This was exactly something I was interested in but the fear once again kept me in the bleachers. What made the whole event so tough to swallow was that I actually would have won had I participated. I knew how to spell every word in the competition including the word that eliminated the final participant. Fear took me out of the game before it started. Fear cost me a huge win, personal success and school fame.

My sister, on the other hand, seemed to have been born with a higher threshold for fear. I remember her bombing down that same toboggan hill that I was scared to try and she is 4 years younger than me. As for travel, at age 15 she took the first opportunity to travel across the world alone and live with a family in Germany for a few months. To this day, she continues to live an adventure-filled life including moving 5000 kilometres away from home to do her master’s degree, snowboarding down a mountain and even skydiving! Does she experience fear? Of course, but she does not permit fear to be a deciding factor in her goals and aspirations.

When I finally adopted the same mindset and made a commitment to take action in spite of fear, I was able to take full control of my life and implement lasting change. As I began to work on myself and learned what my fears were and why they existed, I started to truly understand the limitations that fear had created in my life. Once I placed my focus on what my fears had been costing me, the motivation to overcome the fears seemed to blossom. I actually felt angry because I was now associating the pain of missing out on life’s adventures with my inability to transcend my fears.

I now see fear, doubt and worry for what they truly are; imagined catastrophes. I once heard an author say that fear stands for “Fantasized Expectations Appearing Real” and I could not agree more. When I am feeling fearful, I can effectively deal with the emotion because I now understand that I am literally using my imagination to contemplate a disastrous outcome to a situation. Having this awareness allows me to move forward, experience the physical sensations being caused by the fear and ultimately overcome the feeling.

The best part about learning how to overcome fear is the true sense of liberation. To set the record straight, yes I was a fearful kid but I still had some amazing experiences and many came when I mustered up enough courage to do something that scared me. When Canada’s Youth Television Network YTV was at our school doing auditions for a kids game show, not only did I step up to the plate, but I actually made it on the show! Despite feeling extremely nervous and fearful of looking foolish on television, I went ahead and gained a life experience that my family still talks about today. I let them off the hook for making fun of my 1980’s mullet hairdo

From a professional perspective, I have had to work extremely hard at dealing with fear when it comes to public speaking. Despite the fact that I quit my software career to pursue a business in personal development speaking and coaching, I had a significant amount of anxiety when it came to standing up in front of an audience. You see, my ultimate goal is to be a top ranked platform speaker like so many of my mentors. But I set this goal with the awareness that I had a fear of speaking and that I would have to transform and reinvent myself completely to fulfill this desire. I would consider this particular task to be a work in progress. I continue to get up and speak in front of audiences. The size of the audience is progressively growing larger and the size of my fear is progressively getting smaller. Instead of worrying about my next presentation, I am eagerly practicing and preparing to deliver a performance to the best of my ability. The audience feedback is indicating that I am on the right track.

It is the culmination of these positive indicators that continue to chip away at my fear and move me towards liberation. While I accept and embrace fear as a part of the equation that keeps me sharp, I am able to continually move forward and develop myself to new levels and plateaus. Life is much more exciting now that I have learned to step into the fear!

Practice a new response

You need a 7 Day BrainwashSince we were kids, all of us have understood the value of practice. If you want to get good at hockey, reading, piano, singing, or any other engaged activity, you have to practice.

Practice is defined as the application of a skill repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. I think most people would agree that the highest achievers in an area of life are those who practice the most.

How does this apply to our every day lives?

If you think about your overall quality of life, it is basically made up by the accumulation of moments. Each moment you are expending energy in a certain way. Sometimes you are in a positive state and other times you are negative; and there a varying degrees of intensity in between.

Most of the time, we are all operating on auto-pilot. What I mean is that we are going about our day and we react and respond to events based on how we have conditioned ourselves to do so. If we have spent the majority of our lives practicing an anger response when things don’t go our way, we have become very proficient at being angry. Likewise, if you have spent the majority of your life reacting with laughter to various events and circumstances, you have become proficient at maintaining positivity.

This is a great place for any person to begin when it comes to improving their life so that it works… on all levels.

How do you do this?

Start by doing a basic assessment of your results. Are you constantly in a state of stress or anxiety? Do you constantly feel frustrated or upset? For any result that is not positive, examine what you have been practicing in that area of your life. If your current result is that you get angry and upset whenever the slightest thing goes wrong, think about how you can practice changing that result. You can actually begin looking for the next “opportunity” for something to go wrong so that you can practice a new response. Just like learning an instrument or sport, it may not go smoothly the first time but it is a start. Then you do it again and again and each repetition gives you an opportunity to get stronger.

In a relatively short period of time, you can develop an entirely new skill set that serves you better and improves the overall quality of your life. Try it. Challenge yourself. And see how your results change over time.