Understanding how to calm anxiety as a “Doom Loop” moment begins to overtake us can help us build new trust with our own brains.
The human brain is a funny thing: it’s very susceptible to tempo and melody.Ray Stevens
You put the right words to it, and it becomes very influential.
Why We Should Question the Whims of Our Brains
Championing the entrepreneurial journey is 90% a matter of the mind.
Sure, we can always improve our strategies and gain incremental wins here and there. But, if we want to experience business- and life-changing, exponential leaps and bounds forward, we do it by becoming masters of observing our thoughts and managing our minds.
We never graduate from this work, as our brain simply gets better at raising the stakes and more proficient in blasting fears. The bigger our goals, the bigger our anxiety can be. The more we uplevel and reach new heights of success and visibility, the more the Thought Gremlins can come calling.
While fearful thoughts are simply a reality of being in motion and implementing, there is nothing quite like a brain on anxiety to take an entrepreneur down and render him or her stuck in a tar pit of self-doubt.
We can feel as if we are marooned on an island of foreboding tension, abandoned and alone, unable to escape. In this state, we lose access to our creative problem-solving ability, our rational thinking, and our intuition.
Once in this “Doom Loop,” we can play mean thoughts on repeat that further remove us from self-trust. The seas around our island boil with all the ways we imagine we will fail.
The most important thing to remember when in the thrash of panic is this: Our brain is a big, fat liar.
How to Calm Anxiety in 5 Steps
I have devised a simple, 5-step process for getting back at the helm of your calm, centered self. Understanding how to calm anxiety is an exercise in understanding your own mind, but it’s simpler than you might think. You can inflate this life vest any time you wish and return to doing focused, deliberate work from a place of agency.
1. Define Your Fears
Get clear on the anxious thought that is causing you pain, and write it down.
2. Look Objectively at the Concept of Anxiety
Recognize that anxiety is fear of an unknown future and the belief that we won’t be able to handle it if our worst fears come to pass.
3. Experience Your Anxiety
Sit in the abyss of what you fear. Look around. Obviously, if our worst fears are realized, we will be in pain. But, we won’t be without options. We can still choose to stay calm and maintain our access to our creative thinking.
4. Write a Map Out of Your “Doom Loop”
Determine what you’d need to do to put a ladder on the abyss wall and climb out. What are the practical, problem-solving actions you could take? Brainstorm and write down at least 5 things you could do to address the situation.
5. Exit and Reflect on Your Experience
Climb out of the abyss and sit on its edge. Look back down into the pit and notice how you now feel.
Let your newly-empowered state further dissolve your anxiety as you remind yourself of the practical action steps you could take if your worst fears come to pass.
Say out loud to yourself, “If XYZ were to happen, it would not be my favorite thing—but, I could handle it.”
Understanding that Anxieties Come with Success
Dealing with the fears broadcast from our brains is part of what it means to be human. It is not in any way an indicator of our readiness for achieving what we have set our sights upon.
We do not get a pass from the challenges of implementing big goals. Many times, finding traction and our desired level of success takes longer than we anticipated.
And when our brains pump scary thoughts to the fore, we can know we are right where we should be (and that we are fully capable of solving whatever challenges come our way). Knowing how to calm anxiety in the way that works best for ourselves can help us step joyfully into our next heights.