Beliefnet

Q:

Dear Caroline,

Even though I think of myself as a pretty conscious person I still deal with anxiety on a daily basis. Being around people or having to perform in certain social situations can bring on nervousness, stomach cramps, trembling, cold sweaty hands, etc. I meditate and do breathwork, and yet having people focus attention on me or having to speak up and be noticed makes me want to run and hide or go out of body. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

A:

Thanks for writing. The anxiety that you feel is common. Numbers of people have spoken with me about their challenge with remaining centered in the workplace and in speaking up for themselves.

It's wretched until you realize that most people feel the same way you do. I meet very few people who are naturally confident. Most people have to add icons and trinkets to their persona in order to make confidence statements, i.e., clothing, cars, and the like. Just being comfortable with one's self is extremely rare.

Deep breathing is fine, of course, but it does not upgrade your self-esteem, it relaxes your panic. You need to invest your energy in something that pays off with a boost to your self-image. Let me give you what may seem at first glance to be an off-the-wall recommendation, which is to begin a real hard-core workout program that would demand all of the surplus energy in your system that is generating the anxiety. Give your psyche and your energy another outlet, other than breathing and relaxation techniques. They are obviously not working well enough. Doing something that makes you feel good about yourself. I promise you it will have incredible consequences in your professional life.

My best to you,

Caroline

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