When we lack confidence or are fearful, we can become ‘ungrounded’ and ‘in our head’ dealing with the negative emotions and trying to work out a situation mentally. One of the ways we can ‘ground ourselves’ to lessen the anxiety is to breathe as discussed here. This blog is about an additional very simple technique.
A strong fear can put us in a ‘tunnel vision’ mental state. Tunnel vision is the loss of peripheral vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision.
When we have tunnel vision, we have a very narrow field of vision, we get focussed on one thing. We can have ‘mental’ tunnel vision and become very fixed in our views. This can affect our performance in making decisions, managing people or being creative We need to widen our mental state and see the bigger picture.
A simple technique
A very simple technique to break this state, in addition to taking a deep breath and noticing your body, is to notice your environment. This is part of a broader Gestalt technique which I’ll write about next time but for now, just notice your environment. Where you are, who you are with, what the weather is like etc.
Fear of flying – what’s the reality?
Take, for example, fear of flying. I often tell people they are not fearful of flying, they are fearful of crashing. It sounds flippant but it is an illustration of using a Gestalt technique to mentally contradict your fear or anxiety by being in reality. If you are sitting on an aeroplane and you are anxious about ‘flying’ try do this:
- Look around you – what do you see? People reading a book, sleeping, drinking coffee, stewardesses looking after passengers,
- Listen – What do you hear? The engine of the aeroplane running how it should, people talking. People looking relaxed.
- Notice your body – what do you feel? The vibration of the aeroplane – which is absolutely how it should be. The seat beneath you. Your feet on the floor.
- What can you smell? The different smells in the air, the coffee on your table, the paper of the in-flight magazine?
What you will notice is that everything is normal. There is no indication of a problem. It is your imagination of what might happen that is making you anxious – and that is in your head – and you can change that.
This simple technique can be used in normal situations which are non-threatening but where anxiety is present; giving a presentation at work, negotiating a pay rise, saying no, pitching for the business etc. Virtually anything.
It’s a kind of mindfulness, it brings you to the present through what you actually see – the reality. In the next blog, I’ll talk about how we can use our mind and what we say to ourselves to alleviate anxiety and lack of confidence.
Contribution by Elaine Flook – see more articles at elaineflook.com
Elaine is a Performance Therapist and Consultant to Bookable.