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7 Quick Tricks To Overcome Your Nervousness

7 Quick Tricks To Overcome Your Nervousness

Picture yourself sitting on an airplane. You’re at 10,000 feet, sitting with your legs hanging in the air, the ground far below, the air whipping around you, a parachute strapped to your back and a loud man shouting from behind you to just jump already.

Nervous yet?

That’s an extreme situation, but nerves can strike in more everyday situations too like meeting new people, job interviews, a first date or an important meeting.

When nerves hit, you feel as though you’re not up to the challenge that you find yourself faced with and if you let them, they’ll have you turning back around, running away and hiding under the bed sheets.

The good news is that you don’t have to let your nerves call the shots—here are 7 ways to overcome them.

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1. Focus on Your Best

What are you like when you’re at your best? Think for a moment about the times when you’ve been at the top of your game, buzzing, flowing and feeling alive, then dive, swim and relish in how that feels.

Being at your best is about two things—bringing everything you are to the moment you find yourself in, and the absence of all the pesky fears, doubts and nerves that trip you up. That state of being at your best is always right inside you, waiting.

It’s pretty cool and when you get really familiar with how this feels you can bring it out at a moment’s notice. All it takes is a conscious, deliberate thought on your part to go there.

2. Follow Your Breath

Nerves are pernicious, sticky thoughts that spiral round and round in that wonderful brain of yours.  Once they’re spinning around, it’s really tough to get out of your head, return to the moment and get back in the driver’s seat. Your breath is one of the most powerful tools for getting back on track, so the next time the nerves hit, gently shift your focus onto your breath as it moves in and out of your body.

Don’t do anything with the breath, don’t force it or try to regulate it, just notice the full duration of the in breath, wherever you feel it in your body. Keep your attention on the breath, noticing the sensations in your body as you exhale, and even the momentary pause between the in-breath and out-breath.

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Your breath is a wonderful anchor to the present and, with a little practice, can cut right through your nerves.

3. Reset your Expectations

Your brain loves certainty and in an effort to try to be more certain about how things will turn out, it will create an array of expected outcomes.

These expectations will run the whole gamut between wonderful success and tragic failure, but, as it’s the more painful, negative expectations that threaten your safety, it’s those that your brain gives more focus to.

But they’re not real. They’re no more real than the Darth Vader bobble head sitting on your office desk. Once you realize you don’t need to dance to this negative tune in your head, sweeping away your expectations feels remarkably liberating.

4. Reassure Yourself

Nerves are really just stories about all the things that could go wrong; like screwing it all up, looking a fool or people thinking less of you. As stories go, they don’t have very happy endings, but in the end, they’re still just stories.

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Those stories don’t have to play out, so take a moment to reassure yourself. You’ve come this far and you’re still okay. You’ve faced challenges before and come through just fine. This will be okay too. You’ll be fine, whatever happens, you’ll get through it and live another day.

5. Normalize Rejection

Rejection sure feels nasty doesn’t it? As experiences go, it’s pretty awful, but that’s only because we’re wired to think that it’s “bad”. Truth is, nobody goes through life without rejection featuring in some measure, and a life spent avoiding rejection is a life spent unlived.

Fearing rejection will pile on the pressure and crank up those nerves, but what if rejection wasn’t so bad? What if it didn’t mean that you were less than or not good enough, but simply meant that it didn’t work out this time around?

Rejection is just something that happens from time to time, rather than something that diminishes your value.

6. Choose Which Thoughts you Honor

What do you hear in your head when the nerves hit? I can’t do this. This is horrible. I’m not good enough. What if I screw it up? I don’t want to be here.

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Familiar, right? If there’s one thing your brain’s good at, it’s making thoughts. It does it all day long, whether you want them or not. A thought about what you had for dinner last night, a thought about the room you’re about to nervously enter, a thought about that funny thing your friend said, a thought about how you might feel if you get it wrong.

They’re all just thoughts, and the thought that trumps them all is the one that decides which ones you trust and honor. Which ones are you going to listen to?

7. Practice More for Next Time

It’s true that the more you do something, the better you get. Whether it’s cooking the perfect piece of fish, running or playing the banjo, you always start from scratch, give it a shot, practice some more and get better.

Your skills and capabilities continually evolve and the more you practice, the more accustomed you get and the more effective you become.

So, when starting out with something that makes you nervous, be ready for the initial awkwardness and those rookie nerves, then seek out opportunities to practice, learn and grow.

More by this author

Steve Errey

Steve is a confidence coach who helps leaders build confidence.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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