Physical Symptoms Don’t Have to Derail Us

In theatre I learned that our body feels the same when we are anxious as when we are excited. Butterflies happen both times. The butterflies we feel moments before the curtain opens – that queasiness which affects the digestive system, that makes our ears go red and our palms sweat – are symptoms that we give meaning to sometimes without thinking. Whether we are experiencing these symptoms in our professional or personal lives, when we assume the worst, we get it.

Let me exemplify this.  Several days ago I was in a committee meeting at my church. At one point in the meeting the focus was on something I was proposing we do – add a dramatic scene which I was willing to direct for a specific lenten service. One of the committee members asked me to explain the value of the scene and immediately my ears went red. I felt my cheeks get hot and my head start to sweat. “Oh, no, everyone can see me sweat” was the voice in my head.

In this case, I was unprepared to sing the praises of the scene. While my mind told me I was an idiot for being unprepared, I knew my history with this committee was credible. Fortunately I reshaped the meaning of the voice in my head when I focused this way. I provided some points the committee appreciated and got the green signal to move forward. Yet after the meeting I realized I felt the symptoms that have at other times talked me out of moving forward.

We introverts experience physical symptoms of anxiety and often let them derail us. Whether we need to speak up during meetings to share our perspective, or we are in the position to hold someone accountable, or we are approaching the few moments before we give a presentation – our body will charge us up to give us the extra energy to handle the moment. This energy is purposeful. Yet if we let it, our mind can direct us to assume the worst.

We introverts who effectively manage ourselves see these moments as they are – purposeful. We focus, believe in our abilities and latch onto our personal strengths to make the best of the circumstances.

Do you experience symptoms that derail you in your professional life? They needn’t. Reshape your thinking around what you are experiencing so instead of freezing up, you relax into the moment letting your skills and intelligence make the most of it.

For more guidance with this, contact me at merri@bdbcommunication.com

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On January 11th, 2012, posted in: anxiety, introverts, stomach butterflies by