The weekend edition of the WSJ included Zweig’s column on fighting the herd mentality. In many ways it is good article… but it does what all articles and commentary seem to do… in the end it says “get rational”. The problem with this is when you feel terrified it is extremely hard to use your analytical mind to overcome that.
The trick is the counter-intuitive and ironic one of allowing yourself to feel what you feel.
Just remember that feeling afraid doesn’t dictate you take an action. If you listen to the panic it will actually allow you to think more clearly as the act of listening alone will calm what your psyche is doing to you.
I know it goes against conventional wisdom but let me ask you to try it. Try it with anything – something that makes you feel a little nervous. See what happens when you say “Okay Denise you are really nervous about…..”
… just sit there for a few minutes (or longer) and explore the feeling inside of you. Ask where it is coming from. You will find that using this approach is the fastest and most effective way to induce a greater sense of calm as you will realize that you are most likely unconsciously imagining total disaster and chances are that is not really the situation. Once you realize that, you have automatically got a more reasoned perspective on whatever is inducing the panic – public speaking or plunging markets.
and oh btw, this fits with what we know about emotions firing before thought… “anticipatory affect” is what they call it in the labs. Learning to use this tendency of the brain can be to your great advantage.