New word? Confused?..

Let me give your memory a jog.

“I want to do this but… I don’t?.. Will I be able to go all the way through?.. What if I can’t?! What if they think I don’t know about my own work!… I.. I can’t do this!”

A state, quite similar to the feelings some (if not most) of us as new practitioners/students get when we hear that the patient is ready, or that it’s our turn on the podium now or it’s time for diagnosis/patient counselling!

Performance anxiety. I call it per-anx.

Pronounced as pr – anks. Kind of sounds like the world is pulling a prank on us, doesn’t it?

A temporary fearsome, anxious state that grabs hold of us almost instantly when we feel exposed to the public/colleagues/patients. It starts with a knock in the head and a huge deep breath and turns into shifting eyes, moist palms and an increased (and quite dramatic but real nonetheless) heartbeat.

Per-anx isn’t confined to medical & dental students, in fact it’s very common for many people, especially those who are inexperienced or experienced, yet with certain disorders (like OCD, nervous tick, etc)

The point of speaking about this, is to real-ise how REAL this issue is. Especially when most of the people going through it, are completely unaware of what they are experiencing. I’d like to point out that I myself had no idea in the beginning if this was low self-esteem, fear of public or a result of disinterest in my field work (-which is risky since it may discourage you and lead you to dropping out of your field just because of a simple misunderstanding). At other times we end up adding this to our own individualistic incapability, whereas it’s not. It’s quite generalised and I assure you that every other person feels it on some level or another. Others might just be better at coping with it than you are perhaps.

Talking about “coping with it” we come to… The solution. What is the solution to per-anx?
The simplest answer would be two critically inter-dependent factors.

One, knowledge & skill.
As my good professor Dr. NRQ once taught us, the easiest way to build confidence in an area of life is to acquire knowledge of that area and to improve our field skills. So basically, the more you know the better you’ll feel about your own actions and words.

Second, the leap of faith to exposure.
This is something like taking the first shaky step towards the patient/podium and diving in. Whenever you feel per-anx knocking at your mind’s door, take a deep breath (literally) or two and just step forward. The rest flows into place by itself if you’ve done your best at the first factor of knowledge & skill.
While I could go on and on, explaining these very two factors.. I’m afraid I’m on a tight limit on my number of words here. Thus, more for next time.
Take care,
-Gitana x.

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