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Say No to Anxiety Using Self-Confidence

October 6, 2019 George Abitante

Take a moment to think of something you've been feeling anxious about this week. Done? Now check-in with yourself. How did that thought make you feel (aside from anxious, that is)? It can be hard to identify individual feelings with anxiety, but I often notice that anxiety is accompanied by a feeling of powerlessness. And this makes sense, doesn't it? When we feel anxious, we're essentially communicating to ourselves that there is something we don't believe we can handle ourselves. And more often than not, we probably give anxiety the benefit of the doubt and trust that what it tells us is true. If it feels like you can't handle something frightening, why would you think otherwise? 

Can We Disagree with Anxiety?

But it doesn't have to be that way, does it? When you take a more objective look at anxiety, you realize it's not telling you you're unable to do something. On the contrary, anxiety is an early warning to prepare. If we faced challenges we couldn't possibly overcome, then anxiety would be useless -- the very function of anxiety is to give us time to get ready to face challenges. Now, anxiety can be overzealous, and it often tries to get us to prepare for fears that are either extremely unlikely to happen or are not entirely true. And those fears, the ones that are not very concrete, are the ones that can be the most difficult to overcome.

I've found that the best way to take on these anxieties is to cultivate self-confidence. When you feel capable of handling anything life throws your way, vague anxieties become much less frightening. But how do we develop the belief in our ability to overcome even our biggest fears? It sounds daunting, but here are some tips to practice that can help. 

Challenge Your Anxiety with Self-Confidence

  1. Start small. Anxiety often manifests worst-case scenarios that feel too large for us to take on. Consequently, when we're developing self-confidence, we want to start with small, concrete tasks. These will vary for all of us, but it's important to begin with challenges that are just slightly beyond what you believe you can accomplish. This will maximize the likelihood of achieving the goal while also increasing your sense of self-confidence. 
  2. Focus on accomplishments. Even if you do everything right with step 1, if all you focus on are the times you fall short of a goal, then this process will not be effective. Just like you identified smaller challenges to focus on, you can also focus on smaller accomplishments. Progress can come slowly sometimes, and it's important to notice the little steps towards a goal, not just the big ones. So as you cultivate your self-confidence, try to focus on the little positive steps you take instead of the little steps backward that come up. 
  3. Practice often. Lastly, it's crucial that you frequently spend time in this mindset of cultivating self-confidence. The more opportunities you create for yourself to demonstrate mastery of a skill, the more opportunities you'll have to see success and realize your self-confidence. Like any other skill, self-confidence requires practice to develop, so treat your opportunities to practice as precious, invaluable moments. 

Anxiety can be overwhelming at times, but by developing the skill of self-confidence, you can cultivate and maintain faith in your ability to handle anything that comes your way. 

APA Reference
Abitante, G. (2019, October 6). Say No to Anxiety Using Self-Confidence, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2019/10/say-no-to-anxiety-using-self-confidence



Author: George Abitante

George received his Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University and is focused on improving the efficacy and accessibility of treatments for depression and anxiety. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @AbitanteGeorge.

Lizanne Corbit
says:
October, 7 2019 at 8:49 pm
Practice is the way! I think that it's so wonderful you included that, alongside the other great suggestions (start small and recognize accomplishments). It can be so easy to try it once, not get the result we want or hoped for and throw in the towel, but it's a process! I think this is an empowering, and authentic practice we could all benefit from incorporating. Thanks for sharing.
October, 7 2019 at 8:59 pm
Hi Lizanne,

Thanks so much for your comment! You bring up a great point about handling discouraging outcomes -- sometimes we don't achieve the result we want, but that doesn't mean the process isn't working or that it's not worthwhile, it just takes time as you say!

George

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