Guest Article: How To Conquer Panic (At A Time Where Panic Is State Du Jour)

By Guest Writer Maryna Shkvorets

Let’s back up. I was in Spain with my young family for what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. The writing was on the wall that we should probably cut our trip short and head back due to Covid-19, but I didn’t want to make any decisions in a state of panic.

Of course, it didn’t help that we were getting four emails per day from family members about all the worst-case scenarios.

It was impossible to gain perspective.

And then I remembered. I teach other people to stop panicking. I can do it for myself too. I’m a public speaking coach, and I specialize in helping people with extreme stage fright and anxiety.

During our coaching sessions, I might ask What is the very worst thing that could happen if you give this presentation? For most people this opens up the floodgates of Well, I could look stupid, I could be judged, I could make a mistake, they might realize that I don’t actually belong there, I could freeze up when they ask me a question, I could trip up on my words, etc. etc. etc.

Okay, and then what? Well then I’d lose all my credibility, I won’t get any real opportunities from now on, I could get fired, and I’d never be able to get a good job again.

Okay. Let’s say this all happens. What would you do then?

We never ask ourselves this question when we panic. Our brain just jumps from one half-thought to another, keeping us on edge. But when we actually complete that thought, and force ourselves to face it – we realize that we can handle it. Whatever happens, we can handle it.

You get fired? You can start looking for another job.

You lose your credibility? You can create opportunities to rebuild it.

You make a mistake? You correct it.

Sure, none of those are ideal, but if it happened, you could dig yourself out. It also helps to keep the perspective that the worst-case-scenario probably won’t happen, but there’s nothing that cuts through panic quite like forcing yourself to accept it.

That’s when you’ll realize that your worst-case scenario is really not the end of the world.

That’s what will give you perspective.

That’s how you’ll be able to make a clear-headed decision and take action.

As for me on my Spain adventure – I came to terms with all of my worst-case scenarios, but I decided that to make some clear-headed decisions I needed to first ‘panic-buy’ some diapers for the kids.  

PS – everything worked out fine in the end.

—-

Maryna Shkvorets is a public speaking and confidence coach specializing in creating persuasive and engaging presentations as well as helping people with stage fright and anxiety. Find more of her public speaking articles (as well as join her mailing list) over at marynashkvorets.com

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