Do you find yourself asking, “Am I good enough for so-and-so?” Or, “Am I settling? Is this the best I can do?” When you’re out on a date and you’ve got thoughts and questions swirling in your head that you don’t know the answers to, it’s likely you’re feeling anxious. When anxiety blocks you from connecting with the person across the table, it’s time to focus on calming down and letting your true self shine.
1. Acknowledge that this will pass. If you let them, your uncomfortable feelings and moments will pass. The benefit of letting time pass is that you don’t have to do anything but wait. Sometimes you’ll feel more uncomfortable and other times you’ll feel more in the moment and less anxious. Awkward, uncomfortable moments will come and go…if you don’t hold onto them.
2. Give yourself a pep talk. Before your date, take 5 minutes to look in the mirror. Think about your positive qualities and finest attributes. Focus on your virtues. Smile at yourself! Notice the things in your face that you find appealing: your eyes, smile, your teeth. Focus on the physical side of you for a moment. Remember that you are a body and soul. Both what’s inside and what’s outside makes you you, and you’re unique and wonderful. Now close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Focus on breathing in confidence in who you are and breathing out anxiety and fear. Now look at yourself again in the mirror. Smile and nod your head yes. Acknowledge that you are wonderful. This might not be your favorite thing to do, but it does have a positive effect; it’s worth trying at least once.
3. Change your questions. Instead of thinking, “Am I good enough for so-and-so?” or “Am I settling?” change your focus and your questions. Try thinking, “Am I present and focused on this date?” If your answer is no, that’s a reminder to pay more attention to the conversation in front of you and less attention to the chatter in your head. You can’t stop thinking, but you can stop paying attention to your thinking and start focusing on the other person. Keep redirecting your focus to the person across from you. Over time you’ll get better and be able to hold attention longer.
4. Shift the focus. If you’re uncomfortable talking about yourself, ask your date a question, or for their opinion about something. Show you’re interested in them and value their opinion. While you can’t always avoid talking about yourself, changing the focus for a little while may allow your anxiety to subside enough for you to try again from a better state of mind.
5. Breathe. The most confident person on the room has the most relaxed breathing pattern. Change your breathing and you’ll automatically feel less anxious. Need help regulating your breathing? Try yoga. Don’t have time for a class? Do it at home with a YouTube video 5 minutes a day for a week. Then practice daily throughout your day.
6. Consider therapy. Would you benefit from a therapy session? Is your anxiety so bad that you are not able to take the steps necessary to let yourself shine on a date? There are wonderful techniques that you can learn and skills you can gain by going to a qualified therapist. For those who are uncomfortable with the idea of a therapist, don’t be worried about any stigma attached to therapy. The benefits you will gain will far outweigh the negative stigma that you may have attached to it.
7. Control what you can. What do you have control over? YOU. That’s it. From your breathing, to how fast or slow you speak, to what topics you choose to bring up – you have many things within your control. The outcome of a date, however, is not. Focus on yourself and making the most of each moment, and then you can deal with what may come later when it comes.
When you’re able to quell your anxiety, you can really enjoy someone else's company. By staying present, you are also better company and create the opportunity to put your best foot forward.
May you find the right tools to ease your mind and may you find the right person to spend time with.