3 Therapist-Approved Techniques To Reduce Anxiety & Feel More Confident
According to psychotherapist Corey Yeager, Ph.D., LMFT—who works with the NBA's Detroit Pistons—the key to becoming your most successful, confident, less anxious self is to actually get to know yourself. That's exactly why his new book, How Am I Doing?: 40 Conversations To Have With Yourself, consists of 40 questions to become curious about your thoughts and connect with your true purpose.
"If you can get better acquainted and better focused on understanding [yourself], that means [you can] show up in the world as a better version of yourself," he says on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast. The interview is filled with nuggets of advice and exercises to center your mind, so we decided to grab a few of the highlights. See Yeager's tips below—your best self awaits:
Look in the mirror.
"Most people don't spend a lot of time engaging in the mirror," says Yeager. It's not necessarily about gazing at your appearance or scrutinizing your features—rather, it's about connecting with yourself and becoming curious about who you are. "If I stand in the mirror, ask some tough questions, and really engage with that man in the mirror, I'll start to find out things [about] myself," Yeager explains. "We've been sold a bill of goods that everyone else may know us better than we know ourselves, which is absolutely not true. Better understanding that [person] in the mirror makes way."
So the next time you're getting ready in the morning or winding down before bed, take a few moments to connect with your reflection and ask yourself some hard-hitting questions. What do you value? What makes you happy? What is your essence? "The person that knows you best has to be you," Yeager adds, so try to get to know yourself on the deepest level.
Visualize your opportunities.
According to Yeager, visualization is crucial for achieving your goals (fun fact: Jim Carrey and Oprah credit some of their success to regular visualization). "I see visualization as rehearsal," he explains. "So if I have a big meeting, I've rehearsed it in my head how I see it going. I've thought about different ways it could go: If I do this and they respond this way, here's what I would do. I do that through a number of scenarios, [so] when I get to the moment in front of me, I've already been there."
Now, there's a difference between visualizing different scenarios and spiraling toward a place of anxiety. It's important to be able to move on from each scenario. Think it through, says Yeager, then let it go. It may take some practice, but "if we do it enough times, we'll find moments in life when we say, 'I've already been here,'" says Yeager. And you'll be ahead of the game.
Focus on your breathing.
You hear it all the time: Be present! Stay in the moment! Of course, truly focusing on the current moment is much easier said than done, which is why Yeager suggests tuning in to your breath whenever you feel yourself slipping into an anxious head space. "Really focus on if you're breathing deep, if you're breathing shallow…take two minutes to really focus on how you're breathing," he says. "You can't worry about the past or the future if you've really focused on your breathing. It brings you into the current moment."
It sounds simple because, well, it is. Your breath is one of the most powerful tools in your mental well-being tool kit—and it doesn't cost a dime.
When you truly get to know yourself—your goals, your breath, your thoughts, etc.—Yeager says happiness and success tend to follow. It's what separates good athletes from Hall of Fame–level players (Yeager would know; he's worked with some of the greatest athletes in the world!), and it's not too difficult to generate that self-awareness. Just prioritize a few minutes of "me" time.