I sat on the call, feeling the anxiety build. Confusion, worry and doubt began to fester. “What in the world am I going to do here? Why am I even a part of this”?
One by one the group members discussed the tasks at hand. The leader spoke quickly, firing off tasks and other items. I struggled to take notes. My breathing slowed. The worry was growing by the minute. The meeting ended, and I was left with tasks that I wasn’t sure of. I felt lost, worried and unsure. How was I going to get any of this done?
The day continued with me feeling pretty stressed. I asked questions about my tasks, and even after we found a workaround to expedite the results, I still didn’t feel good about things. All I could do was focus on my inadequacy. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I was clueless and probably had no business being a part of that project. The feelings of doubt and anxiety infected me, and I felt completely useless for most of the workday. My mood soured, and I was losing my motivation to do anything productive.
Not being prepared or not being able to solve problems causes me great discomfort. I don’t like causing problems and I don’t like the feeling of not knowing the answer. In this situation, I was afraid of how my colleagues and the leader would view me. Would they be disappointed ? Would they regret asking me to participate ? Would they be frustrated that I didn’t have the answers? Am I making the situation worse / frustrating?
I have always been prone to stress and anxiety, but I never really understood how much until I became a parent. It seems that the more aware I am, the more I feel this way. But, with awareness comes some hope – now that I know, I can adjust my thinking – reframe my mindset so these things don’t bother me as much.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. The uncomfortable feelings override the positive thinking and we may dwell on them a lot longer than we have to. However, when we start reframing and try to focus on other aspects of the situation, we may realize that situation isn’t as bad, or we may need to distract ourselves until we can regroup. We can rethink in a way that we change how we react or how something affects us.
In my situation, it took some time, but I was eventually able to reframe and lessen the impact of my anxiety:
First, I evaluated how I was really feeling and why. I felt anxiety and fear about this project. Why? I was ashamed of not knowing the answers or putting forth as much feedback. I was afraid that my colleagues would be disappointed in me / my own perception of my lack of skills.
Then, I started looking at different aspects of it. I remembered that I wasn’t the only one who wanted more details on the task. I remembered that others also felt the pressure of the short deadline. Not everyone had an answer on the call. Everyone had questions. I participated when I had questions or had valuable input. I wasn’t alone on this project or feeling a bit uncertain on how to tackle it at first.
More importantly, there’s a reason why I was a participant. I would not have been asked to participate if I didn’t have the skillset or knowledge to achieve the goal. This is a learning opportunity and a way to shine in a still new role.
This project, while difficult, will have a positive outcome. While it is difficult, scary and new, I always feel accomplished and proud when projects like this are complete. I am glad that I am able to contribute, and that I am viewed as a valuable employee. It’s normal to feel unsure in a new, unfamiliar situation. But, we always learn!
In the days following, I felt a bit better about the project. Reframing my mindset gave more a bit more confidence. I was involved and contributed to the group, I eventually felt better about how things progressed. By changing how I felt about an initial discomfort, I was able to focus and perform at a higher level. I was less distracted on my own discomfort and more on what was important.
Reframing is a skillset that I’ll have to keep practicing. Each situation is different, and how I react won’t always be the same. It’s important to me to change my view as needed and reinforce the ones that apply across many
Have you tried reframing ? What tips do you have for dealing in stressful or uncomfortable situations?