How confident people deal with nervousness and fear

A while ago, Viktor and I sent out questions to over 20 000 of you.

We asked you how you deal with social anxiety and nervousness and what specifically you wanted to be better at.

It was fascinating to read.

Here’s what we discovered:

motivatonOur readers are very motivated to improve their conversation skills, social anxiety, self-confidence, self-esteem, and shyness. However, losing touch with friends seems to be a much smaller problem.

Here’s our most interesting finding:

We saw that almost everyone see nervosity and fear as something negative. They see it as their bodies telling them “Stop! Return to the comfort zone!”.

This is obviously a natural way to see it. But did you know that confident people have a different view on nervosity and fear?

It’s not like confident people never get nervous or afraid. It’s just that in their minds, nervosity and fear is a sign that they’re about to experience and learn something new.

In other words, they see it as a good thing.

  • Most see a racing heart and sweating as an omen of something terrible they need to avoid. Confident people see it as a normal response to doing sod to.
  • Most would do anything to avoid feeling fear. Confident people can see it as a sign of self-growth.
  • Most feel that nervousness is the body’s way of telling you to stop. Confident people see it as a natural process and act despite their nervosity.

How I deal with nervosity and fear

A while ago, I was scheduled for a Skype interview with a popular co-living in NYC.

I was nervous before the interview because I knew how sad I would get if I didn’t get admitted.

Instead of trying to push away my nervosity, I acknowledged it, like this:

“I feel nervous. It’s like a pressure point in the upper area of my chest. It’s natural to feel nervous about this because getting admitted would mean a lot to me, and that’s perfectly fine.”

I acknowledged the feeling, but I didn’t let it control me. The interview went great, and I got admitted.

This method was obviously not the only reason that I got admitted, but it helped me relax and make a good impression.

A MASSIVE amount of studies have shown that when we accept a feeling instead of trying to ignore it or pushing it away, the feeling gets weaker and more tolerable (ref).

Read more: Guide on how to deal with being nervous around people.

Feelings are much like toddlers – it’s not until you give them attention that they stop screaming.

This is a counter-intuitive principle that can be applied to all feelings: Don’t try to fight them – embrace them.

I’d love to hear your comments below!

David Morin is the founder of SocialSelf. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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  1. very helpful!
    but i still dont feel confident because basically i wanna make new friends but I’m not too like socialized or not on the internet cause people talk thinks that i don’t know about and they know stuff from the internet but i don’t, like for example, there’s a group of girls i was friends with from year 6 and I’m i year 8 now, and one of the girl is open and some of them are ok but like I’m tryna talk to them but there’s stuff that i don’t understand cause all of them have phones and i don’t, and they know like stuff that i never knew, like their is my friend who says that she had social media apps when she was 7 and i was like your spoiled and my other best friend was like how is she spoiled that’s not how u get spoiled and the friend who said she had social media apps when she was 7 was like, I’m not spoiled ok, don’t even say that to me. and kept on talking. so basically i don’t know how to answer them or understand properly because they know things i don’t know, another example was that they were talking about something i kind of knew stuff about but i don’t really know how to answer it so i just keep on staying focus on there talks. and also there was this friend that i stood next to and she was eating her food and understanding there talks, i was thinking of lying my head on her shoulder to show that I’m a good person and when i get my head back up I’ll smile to her but i couldn’t cause i was scared and anxious if one of my friends see and look at me or something. so I’m really scared of this, i cant even understand them i cant even answer stuff. I’m not to ‘social media’ kind of person even tho i have Instagram and discord i still am not too updated. please help me on this

  2. Love this! Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with fear when attending a social event where I don’t know anyone or at most a nodding acquaintance. I think you are right on with acknowledging and dealing with the our feelings. Even if we need to escape to the powder room for a breath, it’s a growth thing.
    Thank you.

    • Not really useful. My anxiety is before I socialize not while I’m there. My interest is how to befriend not changing myself. People usually meet a few times before making an invite. The problem is making time for new friends in our busy lives. Just make it short and sweet at first. Nevermind I don’t need your help. Thanks

  3. That’s a very good way of looking at fear. It really motivates you to do new things that you were afraid of doing. Thank you very much.

  4. I really have social anxiety and i was diagonsed with depression it’s almost 2 or 3 years since I’m fighting my demons but now I feel so weak to fight them but thanks for giving me some tips but I really feel so scared without any reason and I didn’t find any quote about it if you know any please send me

  5. I don’t have social anxiety but grew up with alone. My siblings are 10+ older than me. When I was 11 years old my parents divorced which was uncommon in the 1970s. Imagine the teasing I faced then which morphed into adulthood. Your chart explains everything. Today I face retirement alone, dislike my job and most of my family is deceased.

  6. This advice is very helpful. When we accept the situation of being nervous, we let our subconscious mind to calm down with reminding us of the negative outcomes. I would also add to that we could confuse us that we are excited instead of being nervous as they evoke the same effect on our minds.

  7. I have social anxiety because I’m forced to live in a different culture/society than the one I grew up in and prefer. I have dependents in which I can not afford to bring home with me so that constant homesickness and revulsion of expectation to just fall in line creates anxiety.
    I chose to study the cultures around me as well as take a philosophy degree through a local university to hopefully learn how to navigate the main culture where I live. I don’t consider myself “fearful” only if accused of being somebody I’m not and excluded, that is very painful.
    I liked this article for the itemized list of how to connect with other intellectual people.

  8. Hi, I’m learning somatic literacy and mindfullness and I now notice when I am in fight or flight and I have learned ways to return to a calm state. I like your approach on accepting the negative feelings of nervousness and anxiety instead of panicking and needing to go off as fast as possible to lick my emotional wounds. I realize that what I need to now focus on, is the balance between a nervous state and a calm state and gaining confidence that I can control my state of being. Then I don’t need to worry any more if someone rocks my boat i.e. by bragging. Thanks for pointing this out to me. Kind Regards, Greta

  9. I struggle because I want to look impeccable. Also, my energy burns out talking to people so I don’t land up making friends

  10. I want to improve, but it is so hard, that I often quit. I AM a LAZY person, but I wouldn’t describe it as just sitting and not doing anything, it’s more like the case when I do something if I understand how to do it. When I don’t understand, I just say it’s hard, I won’t succeed, and I quit fast…. I want to improve myself, but I feel like I don’t have any support from nobody, I feel like nobody can help me, nor can change me, I feel like I don’t have friends at all, because I think they are fake friends…. I don’t know what to do with my life from now on, although I’m finishing college this year. I think I made a mistake going to that college because I didn’t like to do much that is affiliated with it, now I struggle with my final project for graduation…. I don’t know what I’ll do after college ends, just thinking I could work somewhere to earn my day-to-day food…. Maybe it’s out of context, but I wanted to express myself to all of you… (I think I suffer from depression rn)

    • I have read what you wrote and that’s my life right now it’s horrible when you can’t get any attention as if you were born to be lonely and left behind

  11. Occasional nervosity and fear may not be negative but continous 24/7 high cortosal levels is a negative thing and it literally destroys the body physically

    • Exactly, it’s good to feel nervous but not good to be straight up scared sh*tless and trembling, sweating etc. I get that when I have to speak in front of a group of people or when several people stare at me or when I have to make phone calls

  12. I am a widow. I am 75 years old. My children are very busy in their own lives and have no time to spend with me. The holidays are not making it easy. Our holiday is in 16 days. My children did not start planning anything. They know that it is too much for me to prepare for the holidays. I was invited today by the son of my cousin. I answered that I will be happy to celebrate with them. Loneliness at my age is very difficult.

  13. Dear David … thanks so much for your tip on not letting our feelings take control in anxiety situations…. It’s very helpful for me in new situations…. I acknowledge the feeling then become ‘the watcher’ and the anxiety subsides! Your tips work for me and I’ve been able to reduce medications

  14. This is seriously so helpful. I think I am a confident person, especially at my old school where I’ve been for 8 years. But, I am now at a new school, and it’s not easy putting myself out there. It’s kind of like being reborn again and having to adjust and feel confident again. So, thank you so much for this program. It’s really a blessing.


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