Want to feel more confident in only 10 seconds?

Posted on November 10th, by Dr Rob Yeung .

What gets you feeling nervous? Perhaps it’s having to give an important presentation at work or going for a job interview. Maybe it’s the thought of going on a date or arriving at a party where you don’t know anyone.

A study by Katharina Kircanski and her colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles suggests a really quick method of keeping our feelings in check.

The researchers invited people who were afraid of spiders to come into their laboratory to be treated for their fear of spiders in one of three ways. Some of the spider-phobics were distracted while they observed a large tarantula crawling around in a glass box. The second group were asked simply to relax in the presence of the spider.

A third group were asked to describe their feelings out loud. So rather than just feeling afraid, they were asked to explain how they felt with statements such as: ‘I’m feeling afraid right now’ or ‘I am experiencing a lot of tension and worry!’

Amazingly, this technique of affect labelling – i.e. giving their emotions a name – was the most successful in reducing the fear that the spider-phobics experienced.

Easy, right?

So the next time you’re feeling afraid or worried about something, don’t allow yourself to drown in the feeling. Put a name to it. Verbalise out loud the emotion you’re feeling. And the science tells us that you will gradually feel less of it.

For further techniques designed to reduce the impact of negative emotions, feel free to read further posts on the skill of Centredness or have a look at the chapter on Centredness from my book E is for Exceptional.

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