How To Trick Your Brain Out of Anxiety

Fun fact for anyone who suffers from performance anxiety: That familiar crippling feeling can actually become your edge.

According to a study at Harvard Business School, all it takes is a little strategic paradigm shift.

You had me at Harvard.
Thought so.

Assistant Professor Alison Woods Brooks examined the relationship between anxiety, affirmations, and performance.

She manufactured three stressful situations: speaking in public, solving math equations, and performing karaoke.

She asked half the group to repeat “I am calm” before performing. The others talked themselves off the ledge with “I am excited.”

The results were dramatic. The excited bunch shone brighter. Some folks even said their anxiety lifted.

What’s the deal?
It boils down to something called interoception. Think bodily self-awareness.

Say you’re anxious. Your hands are shaking. Your brain knows it.

If you deny your butterflies and essentially lie to your yourself saying, “I am calm,” your brain knows better. Anxiety wins.

But by stating “I am excited,” you can fool your brain. Nervous energy and excitement are siblings and your brain can’t easily tell them apart. Enthusiasm takes over and you perform with confidence.

Got any other confidence-boosting tricks?
Sure thing. Here’s a quick read on the power of playlists. If you’re prepping for an interview, our three unusual tips will help you raise your game.

It’s true. Land a promotion, close a deal, secure more capital—maybe you’ll even break the internet when your karaoke opus goes viral.

First things first though. Repeat after me: “I’m so excited!”

FOR THE NERDY: Read the study

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