Here are some practical thoughts on how to conquer anxiety in life:
What is anxiety?
The etymology ‘anxiety‘ comes from the notion of choking — feelings of being distressed, and troubled.
But why do we get feelings of anxiety?
I think anxiety comes from the fear of getting injured or attacked from someone else. Generally speaking, we feel anxious when we feel like the others (who are judging us) are more powerful, influential, or legitimate than ourselves.
We generally don’t get anxious in front of children, because they don’t judge us– because they are less than us!
Become more powerful
Thus this is my theory:
To feel less anxiety in life, become more powerful than those who you are afraid of judging you.
How do we become more powerful than others?
Stop caring about what others think of you; see them as less than you.
For example, we often feel anxiety when we are afraid of being judged by others. We feel anxiety towards our bosses, our advisors, and generally when we are in front of a large crowd about to be judged.
How to conquer the fear of public speaking
Don’t try to do a “good” job. Just speak openly, frankly, and have fun with it!
We only feel anxious when we want to be perceived by others as smart, intelligent, legitimate, or ‘worthy’.
Whenever I do public speaking, I only feel fear if I want others to see me as competent. However, if I don’t desire to be seen as competent (rather, I would prefer to be seen as a fool or a buffoon); all anxiety disappears!
How to conquer anxiety in street photography
To conquer anxiety in street photography, start off by asking for permission to make portraits of strangers, and expect to get ignored!
Expect people to say no, and then you won’t fear rejection– because you expected it anyways! This is a stoic approach to street photography; conquering risk-aversion by expecting the rejection!
Much of anxiety is physiological; when we are unaccustomed to putting ourself in risky situations, we will naturally feel anxiety!
To conquer the physical symptoms of anxiety (increased heart rate, sweaty palms, and deep breathing) is to just practice!
Practice putting yourself in more social situations that make you feel nervous, and take more risks by talking to strangers. Make small talk with strangers, say hello, and take risks by asking them deeper questions in life:
What are your life dreams? What are your personal passions in life?
Better to be seen by others as strange and abnormal, than to be ignored and seen as ‘normal’.
When you start to deadlift, and lift extremely heavy weights, you will increase your muscle mass, testosterone, and other empowering hormones.
This is a theory I’ve heard (not sure if this is true or not, but is an interesting idea):
If you regularly lift weights and push your body to the extreme, your general metabolic rate is more steady and your stress responses to external stimuli is less.
For example, after deadlifting a new PR (personal maximum), I feel like a demigod. I feel indestructible. I don’t feel like I will die, and I feel like nobody can destroy me.
If you get this sensation once a day, you take far more risks in your everyday life, because you know that you have no downside in life. You don’t fear nothing!
Anxiety only happens when you’re interacting with other people
This is also another interesting thing:
You only feel anxiety when it comes to other people.
You get fear of heights, but you don’t get anxious from fear of heights.
I think fear is manifested in many different ways. To be clear, let us think that anxiety is when it deals with other people.
And realize that interacting with other people is a social skill. And social skills can be developed through practicing by interacting with others!
Joke with other people
This is another tip:
To conquer anxiety with other people, practice joking!
Joking is one of the best ways to instantly build rapport with others!
Practice making lame jokes; it is totally fine. If you want to practice joking, watch more standup comedy (I like Dimitri Martin) and other comedians to learn the art of joking.
Generally I think joking is this:
Being able to tease other people without having them be offended.
Once again, this is an art that you cannot really explain– you just must practice, see the feedback from others, and keep iterating and practicing.
Take more social risks. Talk to everyone like they were your friend, and practice asking them a lot of personal questions. The more you show interest in others, the more interested they will be in you!