When I’m stressed, it’s usually because I’m scared. It might show up as worry that something I’m doing won’t be accepted, or fear that I won’t get done what I’ve decided I must get done. The bottom line, though, is I’m scared, and it’s this fear that drives me into stress and anxiety.
I tend to shut down when I’m scared, and all this does is increase the probability that I’ll ultimately fail at what I’m trying to do. If it’s a presentation, then this preoccupation means I won’t connect to my audience. I’ll end up falling flat and inspiring no one. If it’s preparing for a presentation, then by the time I feel I’m ready, I’ll be worn out and have no real energy for anyone.
My way of not stressing and getting overwhelmed is this: being vulnerable. It’s kind of odd, not seeming to relate at all to stress and overwhelm. But it does relate, in this way: When I let myself be vulnerable, I always relax. I let go of the worry and preoccupation. I cry if I need to, talk out my sense of inadequacy to a friend, perhaps. I move that pent-up energy through my body. And most importantly, I stop worrying about what other might think, and let me be whoever I need to be in that moment.
Being vulnerable like this takes courage – of dropping my need to please and be accepted. Of accepting whatever consequences that brings and focusing solely on meeting my own needs. This (for me) will include being very prepared, knowing as much as I can about my audience and my topic. But it won’t include second-guessing my audience. And that means I’ll be available for them instead of closed to them.
With that, I’ve just increased the probability that I’ll ultimately succeed.
“You can’t get courage without walking through vulnerability.” Brené Brown
Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .