The Power of Perception and How to Overcome Anxiety
October 17, 2018
"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."- Henry Ford
Perception is a powerful thing.
It is your way of understanding your life and the world around you. A positive outlook has been known to transform almost any circumstance- but how exactly does one look on the bright side when it feels like everything is falling apart?
Maybe you didn't get the job, or the startup idea you had failed. Maybe a person you loved left you, or a tragic situation changed how you see humanity (I.E. the 2016 election). These experiences shape us, sometimes for the better but often for worse.
I've found that all of the people I've coached over the years ,regardless of experience level, all struggle with the same exact thing.
Getting out of their own way....and more importantly out of their heads!
'Feeling Stuck' is nothing more than you convincing yourself that you are. Unless you're physically trapped in quicksand and drowning, you can probably change whatever situation you're unhappy with. A negative perception and outlook on your life robs you of your power, causing you to stop trying and remain complacent.
Think you're going to bomb the interview? You probably will. Feel like you're going to have a shitty Monday? Nothing spectacular will happen. Think that you're going to be broke forever? Don't expect to see extra 0's in your account anytime soon.
As if being your own enemy isn't bad enough, societal pressures and social media don't make it any better. The pursuit of perfection and outdoing you peers create anxiety. In fact, so much so that millennials are at risk of having worse health and higher suicide rates than previous generations.
Anxiety triggers a chain reaction like no other, destroying any chance of productivity in its way. Its influence is enough to change your perception on your reality, often making it worse than it actually is.
All of this results in self sabatoge- which can be easily avoided with the proper self care.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your sanity through a rough job search or a tough time.
Reroute your thoughts
Say it with me: I'm Not Crazy.
(whew, that felt good)
Unfortunately, a pessimistic attitude, anxiety, and bouts with depression will lead you to thinking you are. Interestingly, the way the brain is wired has A LOT to do with how you see things- and what triggers certain reactions. The limbic system, also known as the emotional switchboard of the brain, is the control center for how you handle stress. High levels of cortisol being released into the limbic system, puts stress in overdrive, resulting in irrational thoughts and even physically affecting your ability to take action. These two, if not conditioned correctly, can lead to major health problems and panic attacks.
Luckily, when the frontal lobe (where all logical thinking happens) is actively stimulated it keeps the limbic system at bay and brings cortisol levels down.
(Here's an example of a conversation happening in your brain)
Limbic System: "Everything sucks, no one likes me, I'm a failure, and there's no way things can get better"
Frontal Lobe: "You got rejected, it's not the end of the world. Rejection is a part of life. Keep going and if you keep trying you'll hear yes. Success is a numbers game"
The frontal lobe is your friend and can help you see things clearly. It combats the emotional limbic system that can spews out lies, which ultimately take you off course. A few ways to get it going are: meditating, problem solving (doing a puzzle or playing a game), writing down a list of accomplishments, or reading a self help book.
Change Your Vocabulary
Once you get your brain moving in the right direction, you have to be VERY careful about what you say. Your words power your thoughts, which power your actions, which create your reality. The difficulty is words are often tied to underlying subconscious beliefs and since that's the case you have to consciously choose words that correlate with positive results you want to see. One of my favorite things to do is collect affirmations. They are quick sayings that empower you and change your perspective. Here's a list of a few and a challenge below to switch up your vocabulary fast.
For a week, avoid saying the following:
It's not for me
It won't work
Get Some Help
Changing how you think can be a challenge, so it's nice to have some help along the way. Luckily, wellness is gaining popularity in the tech industry, with new startups launching every day. Former Uber exec Andrew Chaplin, just announced a new venture called Basis, an app that allows people to book guided conversations with paraprofessionals to help with mental health issues. If you prefer to go the more traditional route, you can check out sites like Psychology Today to find a therapist to meet your needs.
No time to talk to anyone? Try 1 of over 10,000 FREE meditations on Insight Timer. The app provides guided meditations in a variety of different categories and also a community of fellow meditators looking to become a bit happier everyday.
Self care doesn't have to be done a lone.
Surround yourself with people and resources that support you.
Switch Up Your Routine
Your environment and your routine are big influences on your overall perception.
Doing the same thing day in and day out can make you feel stagnant, and doesn't do much to spark inspiration. If you're an office worker, make sure you take frequent breaks throughout the day. Find a park nearby to get fresh air, try a new place for lunch, or change up your commute. Small changes like these birth new thoughts and ideas, which are key to reframing your point of view.
If you're an entrepreneur or freelancer, don't do 14+ hour sprints on your laptop in pajamas (been there, done that). Instead make sure you are going out into the world and fostering human interaction, which can be lost as you are often on your own. Doing a hobby or taking the time out to do something other than work is also beneficial. Remember that new experiences fuel creativity, and you need as much of that as possible to tackle new projects and business ideas.
Regardless of how hopeless things may seem sometimes, when you are willing to change your perception you can change the outcome.
Never forget that you are the author to your story, and you can rewrite it at any time.