Is it normal to feel anxious when we try new things?

September 12, 2016

This afternoon I took my (nearly) 2 year old to her first ballet lesson. She was so excited about where we were going and loved wearing her uniform and having her hair up like a big girl. When we got there she was clinging to me and was obviously anxious (she warmed up pretty quickly) and it started me thinking – do we all feel anxious when we try new things? The answer is it depends on your perceptions of a situation and your beliefs about yourself. So, in a nutshell no – some people genuinely don't feel nervous or anxious about trying something new. 

I have always struggled with nerves and confidence when I am doing something new, it is what stopped me from starting my own business for a long time and why I used to avoid networking events or putting myself out there. To be honest I was terrified, I was worried that people might laugh at me, might not like me or might think that I was no good. I was paralysed by the fear that I might fail so I didn't even try. 

As I have said before your values often alter when you have a baby and I found my fear of failure was less acute after having my first. My thoughts about what other people felt about me where still there but I wasn't half as worried and I made peace with the fact I am not everyone's cup of tea. However, I was still anxious about new things and my confidence was not high enough for me to start to take risks.

It was through self development work that I had been doing on my own – working through coaching, CBT, NLP and mindfulness courses that I began to realise that I could change how I felt about new situations. It is a process and I wouldn't say I changed overnight and became super confident and happy in new situations, for me it was more gradual. I no longer feel the same anxiety about putting myself out there and I have learnt to embrace failure. When I found out about limiting beliefs I realised my fear of failure was holding me back. I also realised if I didn't bother failing I would never even try. 

We can all learn to be more confident by acting as if we already are and using a range of different strategies such as affirmations, small goals, rewards, reflection, meditation and exercise. You don't have to be that person I was who was limiting herself as she didn't want to fail. Of course nerves can be useful for us and I am sure help motivate some top athletes to perform even better but you need to be the master of them and not them of you.

Part of the legacy to my daughters is to model to them how to be confident and take new situations in their stride, I hope that many of you feel the same. I am off now to do my affirmations as some pretty big stuff happening for me over the next few weeks and I need all the belief I can get. 

Ruth x

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