When someone comes to me (clearly upset) and they ask for help, I’ve started to try to be really honest with them. Here’s an example question:
“I’m so nervouse/upset about this situation that’s coming up. I’m afraid I’ll fail. What if I screw up or totally fail?”
Some people would answer with, “Oh, no. You’ll do great.” Like, there’s no chance anything could go wrong. Well, news flash, there’s a ton of things that could go wrong.
In some situations, everything actually is fine, the person really doesn’t have anything to worry about, and they’re just freaking out over nothing. However, in others, they’re not actually prepared and they know it. Lying to someone by just saying, “You’ll do great,” is giving them this false sense of confidence. I’m not saying it’s bad to encourage them that way, but, when there are legitimate things to be nervous about, just ignoring them and hoping for the best doesn’t always work. In either situation, whether there are things to be nervous about or not, I try to help them (and myself) think about the realities of the situation.
I’m nervous pretty much every time I have an offertory to do at church. Not super nervous, I just know there are so many things that could go wrong no matter the amount of practice I have. Now, I can’t control what happens. The amount of worrying I do can only make my performance worse. So, something I try to do when I’m nervous and about to perform, is think about the lies and the truths. Observe:
If I screw up, then I’ll never hear the end of it
If I screw up, probably no one will remember, or really care
In every situation involving fear, it’s really just a battle of truths vs lies. That’s why, instead of just trying to make someone “feel better”, I try to help them see that they don’t have to believe the lies their fears tell them. I’m definitely gonna encourage them when the time seems right, but the time isn’t always right. Just making them “feel better” is like putting a band-aid on a wound that really needs a couple stitches. If you show them how to ignore the lies their fear tells them, then, eventually, they’ll have a much easier time dealing with fears in general. They’ll be better at fighting fear.