to not be able to keep a handle on nervousness/social anxiety at work.(13 Posts)
I have been at my new job since October. I started feeling fairly confident with everyone i met but as time has passed and i'm working in a small team of 4 in a quiet area of the building with not many people passing. so feeling a bit isolated and kind of like "use it or lose it", well lose it, has happened!!
I now have to do work with a very senior group of people (several vice presidents eg of finance/IT) as a project assistant/general assistant for half the week and do normal duties remainder of week (was always on the cards but didnt expect it so early).
I have severe social anxiety which has really stopped me proceeding to where i want to be and i am feeling very distressed about the thought of being stuck in a room with very senior people and getting it all "right".
I sweat, voice shakes, body trembles and freeze up when anyone senior at work talks to me. I know this as in previous jobs, colleagues has said i look anxious and like a bag of nerves/jittery, "to stop, take my time and breath" etc. I've had numerous rounds of counselling and cbt for generalised anxiety and am currently on medication (max dosage) but i still feel like this.
Im almost finished my mega probation period and i dont want to f**k it up. I feel everyone is better than me, that i'm not an equal, that i'm being judged (they will be focusing on their work), that they'll see i'm shitting it. I'm scared of being spoken to and sounding like I'm terrified and will freeze up and will start physically shaking like I always do, I've tried to visualise them having a poo etc as they are human like the rest of us etc!
Can anyone help?
Been in your exact position the last year. Can you drink herbal tea? Very relaxing. Do you have headphones on? I have one in one ear so I can hear my music and anyone talking. The absolute worst case scenario is that you don't get the job. So if that happens I'm sure you can pick up other work. Try to relax This is a two way street. Yes it's important that they lol you but it's also important that you like them. You are an equal. Perhaps doing affirmations will help.
I had trouble with panic attacks etc and although it's not exactly the same, a helpful method I learned was to visualise a stop sign in my mind, and then say to myself, "Stop! I am a calm and relaxed person". It goes by the theory of your brain being suggestible. So saying to yourself, "stop being nervous, dont panic, stop freaking out, god i'm such an idiot" all your brain hears is "nervous, panic, freak out, idiot". So instead tell it "calm, relaxed, confident" etc.
I've know how bad the voice shaking and sweating can be, i've experienced all that too. Also you're clearly suffering from "imposter syndrome" which is thinking you're not good enough, you're a fraud, you're going to get found out (this fear of "getting found out" is often the root of the nerves). Maybe look up methods to deal with imposter syndrome.
Try an exercise with very rhythmic breathing like swimming as well.
Those are my experiences and things that have helped. I hope you can get some use out of them. I know it's the worst feeling like you do.
I too suffer from social anxiety and fully relate to everything you've said!! It's an awful feeling but I am certain other people don't notice as much as you think they do. You are an asset to the company and you are very capable of doing the job, the fact that you doubt yourself is simply the anxiety making you feel this way. And also, anxiety is extremely common so just bear in mind that these senior colleagues you find intimidating may well be just as anxious as you!!! They are only human and human nature is to be too hard on oneself so they are most likely doubting themselves and feeling insecure as much as you!!
During your lunch break, could you go for a short walk outside? Just to clear your mind so you return refreshed and more relaxed.
The book Dare by Barry McDonagh helped me, it was recommended on another thread.
I think honesty is your best friend here. When you find yourself with someone very senior just say “I’m sorry, I’m really nervous about talking to someone as senior as you. I feel all jittery and may make myself look a bit daft.”
Unless they are a real idiot or particularly unkind, they’ll quickly put you at your ease and tell you not to worry. Having acknowledged it, it won’t seem so bad.
The more you do something the easier it gets - the old fake it till you make it strategy. Smile a lot. Have some inoffensive chat practiced - the weather, the Easter holiday anything. “Hello, Gosh did you get caught in that downpour at lunchtime?”. Be more interested in them than in yourself. Genuinely try to help. Ask about their weekend etc.
Find five things you can see
Four things you can touch
Three things you can hear
Two things you can smell
One thing you can taste
It's a grounding exercise which has saved my bacon on many an occasion!
Senior people are just normal people like you. You can do your job, you have been doing so, that is all you need to keep doing. The seniority of the people you are working for isn't really relevant to you doing your job.
One thing that's good to remember is that it's "just a job"and these senior people are "just people."
I've known people who are v.v. senior in their fields (think world-renowned) but their personal lives are a mess, i.e. they've messed up in almost everything except for their careers!
Being successful career-wise doesn't turn a person into a god-like being, they're just people who've found roles that they're well-suited to. You will as well - focus on what you enjoy in your current position and decide where you want to go from there. Don't worry about what other people think, YOU are your top priority.
Be courteous and polite to everyone and treat them like normal human beings. A sense of humour goes a long way, and people are usually flattered if you ask for their advice when you're unsure about something.
You're bound to come across the odd arrogant person, but that's really their problem, not yours. You'll probably discover that no one likes them!
hi, thanks for your replies. they are very useful. Sad thing is, i'm still fretting today about it all. I will repeat that i am calm, its fine etc.
Have you come across Jacobson's progressive muscle relaxation?
You start by squeezing and relaxing your toes, then toes and feet, toes feet and calves and so on until it's your whole body.
To do the whole thing you have to be sitting down on your own or in bed so you can practice over the weekend.
But I find it really useful that you can do quite a bit of it sitting at a desk when it's stressful without anyone knowing you are doing a relaxation exercise - I just think 'Do your toes' and you can sit in a meeting of whatever and do your relaxation and break the cycle.
There are lots of different instructions on how to do it - all a little bit different and the way I was taught is a bit different to this but the key bit is that you tense and then relax all the muscles as you go along.
Honestly OP all these people care about is you doing your job so they can do theirs. If you cannot make small talk they really won't care. You know you can do your job so just focus on that.
These people haven't always been senior bods, they have gone to school, usually to Uni and worked their way through companies. They don't really change as they do this.
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