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8 Ways To Keep Calm Even If You Are Seriously Nervous.

8 Ways To Keep Calm Even If You Are Seriously Nervous.

Public speaking. Bungee jumping. Confronting a tough customer. These are just some instances which can bring chills to spines and sweat to palms.

It’s normal to feel nervous before or in the midst of an undertaking. What separates the mediocre from the remarkable is the ability to perform despite the nerves. And these are some ways to stay calm in nervous situations.

1. Acknowledge and decide

There’s no point pretending that the nerves aren’t there when you feel crippled by it. Identify it, acknowledge it and come to terms with it.

Even the best athletes feel nervous during race day. Even top notch influential speakers experience some chills before facing the crowd.

Remind yourself that it’s perfectly alright to feel nervous before taking the leap – you are human after all. However, don’t just stop there. Decide in your head that you would not allow your nerves to get the better of you.

2. Segmenting

One technique which the U.S Navy SEALs employ to thrive and operate in high-stakes and high-stress environments is segmenting, which is simply to break down a seemingly daunting task into more digestible and manageable bits.

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A former SEAL talked about how he used segmenting to get through hell week (one of the most arduous and grueling military training in the world in which trainees get no more than 4 hours of sleep over 5 and a half days): Instead of seeing how he would get through the entire day, he encouraged and committed himself to just make it through to breakfast time, then lunch time, and then dinner time.

Thus, whenever you face an overwhelming task that’s driving you nervous, break it down and work through it one bit at a time.

3. Mental rehearsals and visualization

Imagine yourself having to deliver a presentation in front of your company of 100 employees. You haven’t really spoken in public that often and you’re not even sure if you are the most eloquent or charismatic speaker in the room.

You get nervous. Extremely nervous.

At this point, many would think that everything would just fail and crumble before their very eyes – they trip while getting on stage, the projector explodes, members of the audience jeer and throw office staplers at them.

Don’t go down that path. Do something totally different.

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Perform mental rehearsals of yourself delivering a confident and compelling speech. Don’t just practice your address physically, but visualize yourself doing it in your head as well.

4. Scenario planning

In my 2 and a half years in the military, we were taught how to respond to different scenarios when we were, for instance, doing a patrol on a street or clearing a building.

The key to scenario planning is to anticipate the different scenarios which might occur and then decide your course of action when that particular scenario happens. The important thing is to decide what you are going to do even before that scenario happens, so that when it actually occurs, your response would be second nature.

For example, if we kicked down the door when storming a building, we already know how to react if an enemy pops up from a corner – we would react accordingly without hesitation. We just don’t have time to consider our options on the spot when something happens – it might be too late.

Back to the company presentation, anticipate what might possibly go wrong and come up with your course of action if it does. What do you do when you suddenly forget your points? You could have some flashcards in your pocket. What do you do when the laptop fails? You could have a spare one on standby or have a plan to proceed without using it.

5. Begin with the end in mind

When you step onto the stage to deliver your presentation, what is your ultimate purpose? What are you achieving? Why are you doing the presentation in the first place?

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Decide on your purpose and objective and keep your eyes on it. Everything else is just noise and distraction.

6. Controlled breathing techniques

It’s interesting that our body affects our minds and vice versa. When you think of fear, you end up feeling frightened. When you make yourself smile, you tend to improve your overall mood.

People who are nervous usually take short and shallow breaths. And such breathing patterns only serve to keep them nervous.

What you could do is to deliberately control your breathing by adopting what I call the 4x4x4 breathing technique.

Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds (you can count by saying in your head one-thousand, two-thousand, three-thousand, four-thousand), exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, and then repeat that cycle for 3 more times.

7. Adopt a confident posture

Amy Cuddy’s TED talk sheds light on how our posture affects our confidence levels. She says that adopting a “power pose” – standing with your arms on your hips like Wonder Woman or your arms stretched wide – can make you feel more confident and assertive.

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When you are about to do something and you feel the nerves, go to somewhere private and take just 2 minutes to adopt a confident posture. Once done, head back out and get going!

8. Focus on the work, not the nerves

Last but not least, sometimes the best way to overcome the nerves is to take action instead of waiting for the nerves to go away.

When doing a public presentation, take a bold step forward and give the best speech you have ever given. When confronting a tough customer, pick up the phone, make the call and say what you need to say.

Don’t focus on the nerves. Focus on the work you need to do. Don’t forget why you are doing that task in the first place. Hold on to your true purpose and go for gold – the nerves don’t stand a chance!

Featured photo credit: Alex Wong via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

1. Compare Yourself to Others

People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[1]. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

2. Be Mean-Spirited

People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

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If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

4. Dwell on Failure

It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

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People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset[2]. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

6. Try to Please Others

They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

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7. Close Yourself off

Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”[3]. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

9. Fish for Compliments

If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

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10. Be Lazy

People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

11. Shy Away from Risks

When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

12. Gossip

People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

The Bottom Line

Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem
[2] Brain Pickings: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
[3] Forbes: Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better

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