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Performance Anxiety

Updated: Apr 11

Spam Filter for Your Brain - Episode 18

Where do you feel most seen, and where do you think you are most invisible?

What's interesting in looking at how we want to be seen in the world, how we want to be received by other people, is quite often when we look to other people for feedback, it's to try and make us feel like we are okay, that we are acceptable, that we are attractive, that we are lovable and quite often that we are safe.

And I don't think any of these things are possible when you outsource your emotional well-being to another person's whims. Because another person isn't going to have the same set of values, life experiences, and judgment barometer that you have as to what is and isn't necessary and what does and doesn't make up the things that become acceptable.

What can be interesting when we are that we can notice ourselves looking to others to give us the kind of validation that we are hoping for, to provide us with any of these emotions when we spot ourselves doing it, "I wish that person could have said that", "Why didn't you say that?" or "that person never gives me this kind of boost, this kind of compliment. They never say these things to me" When you notice yourself looking for that in someone else, try to imagine what you hope them saying or saying those words or giving you that little boost. Imagine what that would feel like; from there, you can identify the emotion you were seeking from them.

Because the wild thing is that that person cannot give you that emotion because our emotions come from our thoughts. You are the only person who can grant you the freedom of that emotion.

So once you've identified the emotion you were seeking, you were hoping they would be able to give you. Once you have this clearly in front of you, I recommend it with a little pen and a piece of paper because that's how our brains can't wriggle away from what we're working through more.

Once we've identified this emotion, you can work out how you can give that emotion to yourself. And if you can't stretch to imagining how you could give yourself. A feeling of attractiveness, a sense of confidence, it's a feeling of feeling like you're smart, you're funny, or you're sharp, or you're someone who people might want to hang around with, whatever it is for you that you were seeking from somebody else.

Suppose you can't imagine that because it feels too much of a stretch for you. What might someone who did feel that think? Can you imagine a person who did have that going on? What kind of things might be running through their head? Because from there, you can identify a feeling or thought they might have that could cause that feeling. And if someone can have that thought, you could be one of them.

You may not be feeling it now, but you could find some steps in between. So if you're feeling self-conscious about your body, for example, and you got dressed up to go out for the evening, and you go, absolutely no acknowledgement from anyone you love. And you were like, "Damn, that wasn't worth the effort." And you feel a little bit deflated because of what you were hoping when someone would tell you that you look nice, and you think someone telling you that you look nice would give you the emotion would be to feel confident.

But that feeling of confidence doesn't come from someone else's vocal cords reaching your eardrums and causing emotion in your body. That's not how emotions work because you have externalised the authority of their judgment over your own. "That person thinks that I look nice. I trust them. So that means that I must look nice," and that thought of you thinking, "I must look nice", is the thing that causes confidence in you. It is not them saying the words. It is in you deciding the thought, "I look nice." And that is what causes the feeling of confidence.

It is our emotions which are caused by the thoughts in our brains.

So if you can think of a thought, which is "I look nice", which feels quite unreachable for you right now, what could be slightly more neutral thought you could feel is achievable for you? Could it be something like, "I had cute clothes on?" Could it be something as neutral as "I was out there with the human body?" Both of those things are probably nicer than "Well, I kind of looked nice, but because no one commented on it, or if I had really looked good, someone would have said something," or any number of sort of varieties of those types of thoughts. Or maybe, "Well, they think I looked horrible, and that's why they didn't comment. They were ignoring me; they didn't want to draw attention to it." Who knows what was going on in their head?

The kind of things that we run through demonising these situations. We can quickly spiral into these old stories and pluck evidence from thin air to back up the things we're already telling ourselves.

But when we can find these neutral steps in between "This is a human body.", "I had clothes on." "I went to the party" like these tiny little incremental steps. They take the fire out of things a little bit. They take you closer to "I think I looked cute."

And it isn't an arbitrary measure. You did or didn't look nice. It's quite simply that you have decided at this moment that when you think that you look cute, that gave you a little bit more confidence to pick yourself out there, to hold yourself differently, to maybe speak in a more authentic voice, to say your piece, to not cower to other people's needs, to ask for what you wanted. Who knows what it brought you? But just that feeling that you desire.

If it takes you to somewhere that is more authentically you, where you're not shying away from opportunities because you don't. Because you're lost in worry about what other people might think or might say, then it is always worth trying to work towards a position of gaining more confidence for your body in this moment, in this time. It's never about vanity.

It's never about trying to beat yourself up in a way that is quite frowned upon within socialisation. It's simply just looking at things very clearly "do I like the result that this to it gets me?" And if that thought you have leads you to an emotion which brings more confidence into your life, ultimately bringing more love into your life because you're treating yourself.

With more respect, compassion, and admiration, it's worth working towards.

So have a little think as you go around your week, where you feel like you're outsourcing emotions, performing your identity in a way that is to get the validation for feelings that maybe you just maybe you could give to yourself.

I hope you have fun experimenting out there. Do it safely and wisely, and treat yourself with the utmost self-care.


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