Anxiety is something a lot of men battle with from time to time, whether it’s related to sexual performance, stage fright, social instances where we feel like we need to make a good impression, or new dad anxiety after just having a child. When we feel anxiety come online, it’s the voice of our critic, our over-analyzer, and our storyteller on steroids. When this happens, we fall out of touch with our bodies, our flow and the present moment and become completely derailed.
Attempting to Think Our Way Out of it Doesn’t Work
Trying to think our way out of anxiety doesn’t work, neither does keeping it a secret out of shame, nor completely succumbing to it all together. The way I think of it is that anxious thoughts build an inner stone castle. Each block that forms the castle is a different thought. We stack them on top of each other, one at a time, and the wall gets higher and the anxiety gets bigger and suddenly we’re living inside a castle of our own anxiety we can’t get out of. However, the castle only happens when we build it up with all these thoughts. If we can find ways to stop the train of thoughts, the walls never get big enough to trap us inside.
Here are 4 tips to avoid building those walls.
Risk vulnerability. Honor that whatever you’re feeling anxious about is important, and be seen in your vulnerability!! It’s great to notice when something is important to you, and then a beautiful thing to have that seen by someone else. Whether it’s a lover, a social situation, or a business presentation, there are ways to do this so that it doesn’t feel like everyone has to hold space for you. To a lover you can say— I care about how you perceive me and that has me feeling anxiety and nervousness. In a business presentation, you could say — this speech is important to me and I’m feeling a little nervous. It means so much, thank you for being here with me.
Mobilize your excitement. Remember that the flip side of fear is excitement, and anxiety might be as simple as a lack of mobilization of excitement. While you’re becoming activated in fear and anxiety, attempt to mobilize excitement alongside it. This might not solve it all but remember that the goal is simple to not build those walls too high.
Extend the outbreath. The inbreath takes us into the sympathetic nervous system, whereas the outbreath takes us into the parasympathetic nervous system. Extending the outbreath lets the body know it’s ok to be present to what’s happening. It has the effect of slowing down time, which calms the whole system.
Get in your body. Anxiety happens in the mind, so try moving it out with something physical. Put on a few songs and dance. Do a quick 100 push ups. Focus on taking those full breaths in and out and moving the breath through your body.
One final thing to remember is that when we’re in an anxious state, we are so busy worrying about what may go wrong—we will fail, people will judge us, the baby will hurt itself, etc—we can’t see what might go right. What’s more, it’s possible that what could go right has nothing to do with anything that we can control. So instead of focusing on what you know might go wrong and making sure it doesn’t, open up space for what might go right that you have no control over. This is the first step to entering a flow state.
Try these, and let me know what happens, I’d love to hear your thoughts.