Anxiety and Self-Confidence: Quick Tips to Help

Anxiety and Self-Confidence: I finally mustered up the courage to attend my high school’s alumni reunion at the Yale club in New York City.  I was well into my first year at Fordham University and thought I had a grip on my anxiety.  I brought two of my roommates as guests. 


Anxiety and Self-Confidence:
...and that's when the panic set in

We entered the hallowed halls of the club and BAM! I was hit with the mother of all panic attacks as I was greeted by my school’s headmaster.  I was perspiring so much that I felt like I was in that Flash Dance scene when the water crashes down on the lead actress. I can assure you I wasn’t dancing, but my anxiety was doing a Super Bowl end zone celebration. 

What made things worse was the negative self-talk that added fuel to the fire: “Oh no Ted!! You’re sweating!  People can see you sweating.  You’re sweating even more!  You’re making a fool of yourself.  You simply don’t measure up to the rest of these people!”


Needless to say, there was a significant decrease in my self-confidence as this dance with anxiety intensified.  I wiped myself down with a cotton handkerchief – fortunately.  I say this because I can only imagine what I would have done if I had used a paper napkin and little pieces of it stuck to my face – like mini flags of surrender!


Somehow, I pulled myself together and managed to limp across the evening’s finish line.  I felt defeated and deflated.  I envied my roommates who were cool as cucumbers, demonstrating a mastery of the “Schmooze” throughout the evening. I was pissed. 


Fast forward.  I visited my high school to help with a phone-a-thon.  Once again, my self-confidence was mastered by my anxiety.  It got worse after a quick break during which I stepped in dog poop. I didn’t discover it until I was inside the library and had it brought to my attention by the distinguished alumni!  I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole. 


As you can probably relate, anxiety and self-confidence go together like chocolate and peanut butter (two of my favorites!).  These situations are but a few that had left me feeling like I was put through a meat grinder.


But, these experiences ushered in a new perspective on anxiety and self-confidence.  They made me realize that I survived each situation.  It was just anxiety.  It didn’t kill me.  My self-confidence may have been bruised, but I have never given up on myself (despite wanting to do so).  Actually, my self-confidence grew every time I faced my anxiety.  This is the key to winning. 


Practice “Mind Judo” – channel the force of anxiety against itself.  Your self-confidence will strengthen every time you do this.  But do this you must. (I just sounded like Yoda).   


Please know that you have control over your life. Don’t allow your self-confidence to erode.  Don’t allow yourself to be bullied by anxiety.  Face it and destroy it.


Equally important, be careful where you step …


Anxiety and Self-Confidence:
Facing social anxiety

Dread.  That’s what I felt upon entering the dance hall where Melissa and I would watch our friend compete.  Now before I go on, I enjoy cheering on our friend. 

It’s truly gratifying to bear witness to highly accomplished, passionate people employing their craft.  Having said that, my social anxiety peaks whenever I am at these events.

I’ve struggled with social anxiety since day one – I screamed at the doctor and the entourage that welcomed me into this world.  I told him to put me back! Being in a group larger than four people (that includes me and my wife) scares the crap out of me.  I am an introvert – I am drained by these events.  Before I continue, please know that Melissa and I have been fully vaccinated and wear masks at these events.   


Throughout the day, I have to manage my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which has demanded “more managing” due to the Covid-19 outbreak. It makes me want to avoid people even more. Especially the creepy close talkers – you know, the ones who step closer to you with each word spoken.  I try to identify humor in these situations.  I look like a heavyweight boxer weaving, ducking, and circling the ring as these people step closer to speak. You’d think they’d get the message when I match their step towards with a step back.  Oh well.


Many people will not want to hear this, but social anxiety must be defeated like all other forms of anxiety – by confrontation, exposure to the source.  I did just that while twitching, weaving and ducking.  These movements were more subtle than usual because I was devoting more effort to “being in the moment.” 


It was comical because as Melissa turned to me saying: “See, this is great exposure therapy,” I threw up my hands and yelled: “Here I am!”  As I was saying this, there was an explosion of ostrich feathers and other bird pieces that were once part of the dancers’ bedazzled dresses. They tend to fly off (pun intended) during their numbers.  This was my Broadway moment.

The great news is that social anxiety can be defeated by taking the following steps:

  • Allow yourself to be exposed to the source of your anxiety.
  • Breathe.
  • Realize that social anxiety (and other forms) will not hurt you.  It’s just anxiety. 
  • Stay in the moment by engaging others in dialogue. Direct the conversation at them and really listen to their story.  
  • Accept the FACT that you are not alone with these feelings.  I’d be willing to bet many others in that room are experiencing the same anxiety – we are all human. 
  • Take a moment to congratulate yourself for having the courage to face your fears and taking the step to ultimately defeat them.
  • Enjoy thinking about what else you can accomplish for taking this step.  Dream.


This is possible.  Get out into this crazy world and dance. Anxiety and self-confidence are yours to master. Let the feathers fly… ~Ted

Anxiety and Self-Confidence and More Ways to Outsmart Anxiety