How to ditch nerves and feel confident easily

Anyone who gets nervous usually thinks nervousness is a big problem. It can be nervousness about public speaking, challenging work situations, about something that may go wrong - anything at all. 

Most clients who come to me with nerves or a lack of confidence believe that this is holding them back and can only be overcome with a huge amount of effort and hard work. We think it is a fixed and problematic part of our personality. 

Not so. With a change in perspective, it just becomes a passing experience with no real gravitas.

I worked with a client recently who wanted a new job role. She had an interview lined up - great. The problem was she lacked confidence. She was nervous just thinking about the interview. We explored her situation, talked it through. Although our conversation below was personal to her, many insights came out in the course our coaching which are applicable much more widely.

Are nerves limiting you … or not?

I encouraged her to look further into what was happening. For example I asked her whether nerves like these had actually limited her performance in the past. What we found was this: none of those nerves had previously held her back. She tended to go ahead anyway and do rather well. The problem was not so much the nerves as her thoughts about the nerves. In other words it was the worrying about worry that was the real issue. She started to see how unthreatening these nerves actually were.

Fear and excitement are the same thing

Did she need to worry? Fear, worry and excitement are very similar physiologically - increased heart rate and adrenalin levels, sweaty palms and so on - yet we label them as being at opposite ends of the spectrum; fear as bad and excitement as good. What would happen if we merely changed the label? She started to see how the feeling was not all bad and did not necessarily need removing immediately.

Don’t get your mind involved

We discussed how having nerves could be ok - if she didn't mind them. This is one of the most natural, effective and authentic ways of dealing with nerves out of all the techniques and philosophies that I know. I described to my client an analogy of a stream. If you have some muddy water (aka nerves), don't delve in and try to clear it, you will just stir the water up. Don't bother much about it and the stream will carry it away as a matter of course. Or it will just settle and no longer be much of a problem. She started to see how if she just let it go then there wasn't a lot else there underneath. It just started to settle itself.

Most nerves sort themselves out … providing you let them

As a technique there isn't much you need to do about most nerves. To the extent there is a technique, it's around being present to them, recognising that they could be given a different label rather than just 'nerves' and just letting them pass on through. No stirring up extra thoughts about them. No panic in case they get worse. Just letting them pass on though. Most nerves sort themselves out … with minimum intervention from you. It can be quite liberating.

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