March 17, 2017

Building Confidence with Anxiety, Anger or Sadness

When dealing with ourselves, our thoughts, feelings and emotions, confidence is of vital importance.

Believing in oneself might not immediately come to mind when talking about issues with anxiety, anger or other strong emotions. They are states of mind accompanied by strong feelings, and dealing with them usually requires being able to reach a calm attitude. If we manage to become calm, we are not controlled by our strong emotions anymore. Sounds simple enough.

When someone is angry or anxious, the advice they most often get is "just calm down." As if calming down was as easy as that. Being able to calm down when in such a chaotic emotional and mental state requires a lot more than simply the will to calm down.

There is always a voice in our head at times like these. A voice that makes us believe that going deeper into the feeling is the right choice--getting more angry, sad or scared. But is it?

Let's take anxiety for example. When anxiety strikes, the voice in our heads says "You have to be afraid. Something horrible is about to happen. Run." And the rational part of our brain tries to step in and reassure us that nothing is happening.

"What is that?"
"Everything's fine."
"No, it's not!"
"But it is."
"No, it's not. Do you feel that feeling? That's the obvious sign of something horrible!"
"You're fine. It's nothing."
"But I'm dying!"

It's kind of how it goes. Anyone who is familiar with anxiety can relate, I think.

We have to get acquainted with this conversation in our head, because it will happen time and time again. This conversation is different for everyone and it evokes different emotions. We all know our own personal weaknesses. The sooner we can recognize it and step into this conversation, the lesser the emotional response will be. And this is where confidence comes in.

We have to learn to be confident in the thoughts we choose to believe.

If we believed the calm ones that try to tell us we can, in fact, let go of what makes us afraid or angry or sad, there would be no problem. The problem is that we cannot fully believe in them. We believe the voice that pushes us toward feeling the emotion. The one that tells us that we need to be afraid or angry or sad. Because all the reasons for the emotion are true.

We might feel tiny in the face of these emotions. They are like violent ocean waves carrying us deep under water. We might feel powerless against them.

Practicing feeling confident in the face of our own emotions is the basis of confidence. If we can be confident with our own feelings and thoughts, there will be nothing in the outside world that can shake that confidence.

Because what it all comes down to is that what we feel the most powerless against are our own emotions. But we are not as tiny as we feel. We can always practice switching our perspective--we are the larger ones.

We don't have to be controlled by feelings and thoughts Just because they are there, doesn't mean they have to be in charge. We can accept them and choose not to follow them at the same time. Because we are in charge. We are the larger ones.

A guided meditation on the topic can be listened to here.

"True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself." ― Thich Nhat Hanh

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