Anxiety is as much about uncomfortable physical sensations in the body (viscera) as it is about repetitive uncomfortable thoughts in the mind.
Find powerful mind-body tools and practice them diligently.
I recommend you look into Havening, a technique that involves soothing touch and mental stimulation. It's been researched as an effective anxiety treatment.
Diet and exercise also play a role. Complex problems require multifaceted solutions. Your life right now might have to be about working through the anxiety. You have to study, experiment, and evaluate different techniques as solutions for you.
What you learn along the way will make you a natural leader.
There are three levels connected in the brain. Physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Feeling good quickly requires having two of these three feel good/pleasurable. The third will follow.
I have an anxiety disorder, I really don't know what to do. Apparently I'm getting really bad and I need to see someone. But I'm scared.
Definitely find someone who makes you feel safe to talk to. A friend AND a professional if possible. The more the merrier.
Aside from that, anxiety is a brain state, not just a mind state. This means that the body is highly involved. I have had tons of social anxiety for years, and the only things that have made a real difference are mind-body practices and techniques.
Look for mind-body practices that you like. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, cardio exercise, dance, singing, anything that both moves and generates energy.
The other thing is to build a practice that you can use in real time. A self-talk technique, attentional focusing technique, or breathing technique. These kinds of things can allow you to recenter in real time. A therapist or coach might be able to help you find one for you.
Voice is all about breath, and breath is all about space in your torso, i.e. your posture.
The smallest thing you can try when speaking up is simply lift the very top of your head, like it's a balloon filled with helium.
In fact, see what it's like to practice that once or twice a day. Feel the top of your head with your fingers. It might be a little bump (with a tiny dip in the middle).
Then use your mind to lift it, and just notice what it feels like.
More space inside?
Then decide what you feel like saying from that position.
There can definitely be a “cool kid” dynamic when it comes to groups of coworkers.
Back in middle school, you might have had a group of friends, and the whole time spent together was basically trying to impress one person in the group, the cool kid. I had one of these.
In such groups, no one acts like themselves. Everyone's trying to be what they think the cool kid thinks is cool.
Even though adults might be less outrageous in their social tactics, the same dynamics can creep in.
If this is what's happening, is recommend two things.
People have a thousand reasons why they do stuff.
This always happens to me when I email someone a question that's important to me and don't get a reply within a few days.
Usually, it's distraction with something totally unrelated.
Give it a few days and see if his demeanor changes. Keep yourself focused on other things.
If after a few days it's the same, and you're still worried that it does have something to do with your boss's feelings about you, you should ask, if only for your own pace of mind.
“Hi [Boss], how are you doing? You seem to be distracted recently. It may have nothing to do with me, but I just wanted to reach out and make sure everything is good between us. Let me know if there's anything I can do to support you with anything these days.”
The funny thing about difficult people at work is that they trigger us more than they should.
This is because companies are hierarchies.
Decisions and Dominance
Companies need to be hierarchies of decision-making to function. They need to make big decisions at the top, and progressively smaller decisions on down.
However, when you throw emotions into the mix, you get another hierarchy: a social-emotional dominance hierarchy.
This means that your boss’s emotions can dictate your emotions. And your coworkers’ emotions can dictate your emotions. Some companies are more stuck in this dominance hierarchy, some less. But all have it.
When we’re inside a dominance hierarchy, we’re trying to defend our position on the ladder. We’re either trying to please someone above us, or we’re trying to dominate someone below or adjacent to us.
This is why we get triggered by difficult people at work. It’s not just that they’re annoying, it’s that there’s a dominance dynamic at play. They’re a threat to our ability to own our position.
It’s In Your Brain
The way out of the dominance dynamic is to work on yourself, to change your emotional patterns. This allows you to show up differently, which changes the interpersonal dynamic.
Things like breathing techniques, meditation, this all helps, but it takes time to develop as skills and habits.
A real solution is to use a technique that affects the brain on multiple levels at once, to create real change in the networks.
A Real Solution
I’ve been working on this problem myself for years, and this past year, I discovered a technique that is basically a brain hack, for lack of a better word.
It’s a combination of several “pyschosensory” techniques that, when you put them together, creates rapid changes in the brain.
One of the techniques is called “Havening,” which is about soothing touch. Others involve eye movements, rhythmic tapping. I also use a method of question-asking to go along with it. Together, they affect the brain on multiple levels and create rapid learning. I don’t really know why it works so well, but I’ve been coaching for 6 years, and I’ve never had such powerful results until now.
Dave Wolovsky, MS CAPP
Relationships Coach, answering the internet's questions about all kinds of relationships.