Self-doubt, anxiety, self-loathing and hatred, all bring about feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, loneliness and isolation, in different degrees, draining emotional reserves. When you lack confidence and it is combined with fear, whatever the cause, it depletes physical energy and the will to face even small demands.
For you to re-build your self-esteem it is important to become aware of those mental resources that you may not even know you have. One such resource is your physical senses, making use of your sight, hearing and other senses to help you to overcome these challenging emotions.
If thoughts of self-doubt, even self-loathing or self-contempt, are allowed to continue to fester, and anxiety levels are not kept in check, your situation may be quite dire. We all get anxious now and again, but consistently experiencing high levels of anxiety, whether it is because you believe that you are unable to cope with life's demands, or whether you believe that you are unworthy, are not only emotionally, but also physically harmful.
Anxiety and fear result in the fight or flight response, brought about by perceived danger - if your unconscious is constantly triggering this instinctual stress response in the absence of true physical danger, it results in the production of excessively high levels of adrenaline and cortisol, so that your system may be flooded with these hormones so frequently that you may be heading for emotional burn-out and physical exhaustion.
Learning and unlearning harmful responses
The fight or flight response, as an anxiety response, is behavior that is frequently the result of previous learning, even if this was learned a long time ago and the event or events from which it originated occurred in the distant past. You may be completely unaware of the reason why you are constantly anxious or fearful.
You may think that you have no control over your emotional reaction; however, just as you learned to respond in this manner, the response can also be unlearned.
If you are constantly living within your emotions, focusing on feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty, you may not be taking note of external signals indicating that your reaction may be inappropriate. Even if on a rational level, you judge your feelings as inappropriate, you may be unable to change how your feel and how you react. You may be so absorbed in what you experience that you are unable to focus enough attention on what is happening around you.
While it is natural to be anxious should you encounter a truly threatening situation it is not healthy - on an emotional, mental or physical level - to be in a state of fear or anxiety because of relatively innocuous situations or events, or even in the absence of any trigger.
There are a number of countermeasures you can take to overcome anxiety. One is to use visualisation (which refers to more than just eyesight or hearing), something I use often to help people to "unlearn" harmful emotional responses.
Running sensory interference
Deliberately focus your attention on the external environment. Deliberately observe what is actually occurring around you and redirect your thoughts to the visual or auditory or other sensory cues around you. Focus on the situation or people or things around you, so that your attention is drawn away from your feelings. You can compare this with reading a book or seeing a move that fully holds your attention. Take note of the sights or sounds or other sensory cues, focusing on even the smallest details.
Fully focus your attention on what you see or hear, smell or taste, what you can feel, such as the texture of an item, its weight, the temperature around you, etc. You will now have less mental resources available to focus on the feelings of fear or anxiety. That does not mean that you will no longer feel any discomfort, but it could help you to reduce the intensity so that it becomes more tolerable.
Since your mind can only deal with a limited number of stimuli at any given moment, focusing your attention on that which occurs outside of your own body, but which you can perceive, touch or hear, reduces your focus on emotional content. This is a powerful technique to manage a variety of emotions, making you less aware of the feeling and more aware of the present. Through the use of your senses, whether sight, smell or hearing, your discomfort can thus diminish.
You may actually be missing out on a host of valuable experiences or the chance to connect with others, following up on new ideas or appreciating tangible or intangible gifts, such as an astounding sunset, a soft pillow or beautiful birdsong, by remaining locked into feelings of fear or anxiety.
The power of your senses
Sensory experience is far more powerful and useful than only managing uncomfortable emotions. Learning visualisation techniques involving all your senses can stimulate creative thinking, help you with problem solving or to generate new ideas, change your attitude to a more positive one, "clean up" negative thoughts, improve relationships, and even to overcome bad habits. It can also allow you to get rid of the unconscious triggers that prompt the fear or anxiety (or other) responses. You may initially need some assistance to fully capitalise on the power of your senses, but once mastered, you can apply it in many different situations and for a variety of different reasons.
Your senses is a powerful gift and regarding it as a personal resource can change the way you experience life in general and how you respond to challenges as well as opportunities. Thus, instead of shying away from the world, use your senses to bring more color and variety to your own world, helping you to manage your emotions more effectively.