I'm Not Good Enough
5 Steps for Dealing with Anxiety
Do you feel like you're always anxious about your job?
Do you worry you're not good enough and will be "found out"?
A lot of the men I work with struggle with anxiety. Anxiety keeps them awake at night, stops them from being present with their loved ones and prevents them from being all they can be.
It's a really dark place to be in for the client, and as a coach, it's hard to see amazing guys crumble to tears because their self worth is through the floor.
However, as a coach, it also excites me to think of these guys' future when they take courageous steps to overcome their barriers.
Let's start by discussing what anxiety is. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease, or fear experienced mildly or severely. My observation as a coach (and not a psychotherapist) is that anxiety is a fear of the future, and it's a fear of something that hasn't, and may not, happen.
Many of the guys I work with spend a lot of time in their heads ruminating and catastrophising about all the ways something will go wrong. The problem is that our body doesn't know any different, and our body will experience the stress of a situation we're thinking about regardless if it has happened in the real world.
The reason humans tend to do this is that we feel if we plan for the worst, then we won't have any surprises. This makes sense to us as we're protecting ourselves from harm. However, we don't realise that we're harming ourselves and impacting those we love in the present.
Ultimately, we're trying to control the outcome of a situation by investing our mental bandwidth through worry, unease and fear.
We can only control the controllable, and we can't control how people think, react, or throw curveballs at us.
The reality is that we can control very little and only control our response to a situation, which involves internal work and courageous action.
I want to share with you the steps I take with my clients when they're dealing with anxiety or "analysis paralysis":
1. Communicate - Guys bottle stuff up! We feel that sharing a problem shows weakness or that we'll be judged as "not being good enough". Find the appropriate support in loved ones, friends, trusted colleagues, or your boss. If you have a good manager, they should want you to succeed and provide an open, non-judgemental door.
2. Tell the story - When we feel crippling anxiety about a situation, we often jump straight to the feeling of worry or fear. For example, those that don't like public speaking will dread every minute leading up to it.
Instead, get clear on the stories you're telling yourself about the situation. For example, "if I mess up, they will laugh at me, and I'll lose their respect".
Getting clear on the exact story you're afraid of allows you to gain clarity and have different perspectives. For example, "if I mess up my speech, everyone will see I'm human, doing something uncomfortable and having the courage".
If we get the full story of our fears rather than the highlights (the feelings), we often find the dog's bark is way worse than its bite.
3. Change your state - When we're anxious, we're overwhelmed and blinkered, which means we ignore things that don't seem necessary. Our lunchtime walks, exercise or meditation get thrown out, but these are things you need most. When I'm feeling anxious, I double up on the things that change my state, which usually means a walk in green space or exercise. State-changing activities are a coping tool that allows us to return to the situation with a new perspective.
4. Micro-action - Now that you're in a different state, what small piece of action could you take? For example, if you're worried about what others will think of your suggestions in a meeting, try one meeting where you try to be yourself rather than being someone you think you should be. I promise you the world won't stop spinning, and you'll still have a job!
5. Self-care - Integrate the above steps into your daily routine, even if you're not anxious. Make time for the strategies you need to cope. When anxiety starts to rear its head, you'll be able to kill the monster whilst it's small. Leave it unaddressed; it will grow to be a demon in your head. Like the safety briefing on a flight, you've got to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help those around you. (Please see this article for more information about prioritisation).
Dealing with anxiety can be debilitating and can impact your personal life and your working life. Be brave, get clear about what's going on, and then put a strategy together to move through it. Men always catastrophise about what will go wrong; how about we start looking through the lens of "what could go right"!
Recently a client said to me:
I'm not passionate about my job, but I am passionate about not getting fired.
Being in a constant state of anxiety about keeping a job that doesn't excite you is all-consuming. If you are in the same situation or deal with anxiety, I want to help you. Please click this link to schedule a complimentary 30-minute call.
Here's to your journey!