I remember the first time I took Rhys to baby group.
It had taken me weeks to build up the courage to go, and I felt unbelievably nervous as I made my way there. Part of the problem for me was the fact that I tend to overthink things. And then I manage to talk myself out of doing them, because I’ve imagined these worse case scenarios.
It’s the same with all sorts of things, from driving somewhere new to starting up a conversation with someone new at the school gate.
This little trick though can really help me (and you) to feel more confident in pretty much any situation.
The trick is to pay attention to the thoughts we have about the situation and basically tone them down.
What I mean by this is, to take that worse case scenario that we’re picturing and question it. Bring in a voice of reason to argue with the little voice in your head who is busy catastrophizing. Tone down those worries as much as you can.
Let’s use that first visit to baby group as an example.
Before I went I built up this idea in my head that I would go and no one would talk to me at all. That I would trip on my way in and make a fool out of myself before I even had the chance to say hello to anyone. That I would try and talk to people and be ignored and I’d end up sitting by myself.
What I should have done is question all of these thoughts.
I should have reassured myself that no one would notice if I tripped on the way in, or pushed the door when it should be pulled open.
I should have reminded myself that it was more than likely that most of the other parents there would have felt nervous the first time they went. And that they would be friendly and more than happy to talk to me.
This approach can be applied to all sorts of situations.
At work before giving a presentation for the first time you can take thoughts of “I’m going to completely mess this up and I’ll never get promoted and my boss won’t take me seriously” and tone it down to “I might not be amazing at it, but everyone knows this is the first time I’ve done it and they won’t be expecting everything to be perfect”
In an ideal situation we’d just tell ourselves that what we’re thinking isn’t true; we’d ignore those worse-case scenario thoughts and just get on with things. But I think we all know it’s not that easy. What is more manageable is working to modify our thoughts, little by little.
Toning down our thoughts from the worst case to scenario to one that is a bit less dramatic and catastrophic can be enough to give us the confidence to go ahead and do what we need to do.
Do you have a tendency to think the worst, or build things up in your head so that they seem much scarier than they are?
If your answer is yes, then try this trick next time you find yourself doing it. See how much more confident you feel once you challenge that voice and start to tone down your thoughts.