Motorola Radio Discarded AnxietyWhen Motorola designed the first car radios for mass use back in the early 1930’s, they were met with some intense opposition.   Cities, states, and major companies felt that adding a radio to a car would be a dangerous distraction to the driver.

To fight this opposition, Motorola educated the world about the benefits of a car radio.  They explained how the radio could alert drivers of bad weather, road conditions, and help keep them awake.

By the late 1930’s, Motorola won over their opponents by adding push-button tuning. This helped keep the driver's attention on the road instead of the radio dial.  It also allowed drivers to change radio presets whenever they wanted.

This made it easier for drivers to find their favorite stations.  It also helped drivers adapt to new locations instead of being stuck listening to the same old stations or worse, radio static.

This concept proved true for me as I transitioned into adulthood.  In August 2006, just after graduating college, I packed my car and drove to Michigan from New York for graduate school.

I remember driving through Pennsylvania when the radio station I was listening to went out.  My car was no longer within the range of the stations I was familiar with.  At that moment, I realized that since I was moving to Michigan, I’d have to find all new radio stations and change my presets if I wanted to continue enjoying my radio.

Changing your radio presets can be a little daunting.   But what about the other presets that we’ve been listening to years?

What Are Your Current Presets?

Do me a favor and pretend that your mind is a car radio. I know it’s a little weird, but try it for a second and consider the following questions.

What do you hear coming through your speakers?  What messages have been preset either by you or someone else?

Are these messages making your ride more enjoyable or are they making things harder to deal with?

Why haven’t you taken the time to change the station and listen to the good stuff?  Why haven’t you changed your presets to something that enriches and encourages you?

Perhaps you’re suffering from mental presets that you haven’t changed in a long time.  Many of us are still listening to those same old debilitating messages.

We keep telling ourselves stories about doubt, worry, and failure.  We cycle through thoughts of anxiety and fear, hoping that the messages will change.  But we rarely, if ever, take action to change them ourselves.

We just keep listening.

We keep listening because change is scary.  It’s unknown.  Change itself makes us anxious.  So we settle on the message that is already playing, that same message that keeps us stagnant.

But, if you wouldn’t listen to a song you didn’t like on the radio, why listen to those messages that make you feel bad about yourself?

Why not just change the station?

How to Go About Changing Your Presets

After the success of Motorola’s radio, they continued to make improvements to the design.  The radio, which originally required its own battery source and an antenna that was the size of the car roof, dramatically shrunk in size and cost to make.

But, the most impressive improvement to the radio wasn’t in the form of subtraction.  It was the addition of the Scan function.

In 1953, the Scan function was added to the car radio to allow drivers to automatically seek out radio stations within range at the push of a button.  This connected drivers to radio stations that they’d never heard before. It also allowed them to try new music and talk radio for the first time.

Today’s cars have the same ability to scan or seek out new options on the radio.  Just like those radios, you have the power to seek out new messages to replace the old ones too.

Hit Your Seek Button

It’s time for you to seek out some strong positive frequencies for your life.  To win the fight against anxiety, we can’t allow those old messages to take up space on our mental presets anymore.  So let’s replace them with more positive messages.

Here are 3 ways you can change your mental presets:

Practice Gratitude

One of the best ways to begin changing your mental presets is to change what dominates your thoughts.  For those of us fighting anxiety, the feeling of judgment is what often preoccupies our mind.

The best way I’ve found to change those kinds of thoughts quickly is to practice gratitude daily.

A simple way to practice gratitude is to write down 3 things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning.  Adding this practice to your routine will help you start your days reflecting on good things.  This is much better than starting out the day thinking of things that may cause you anxiety.

While you don’t need any special tools to practice gratitude, I highly recommend The Five Minute Journal.

The Five Minute Journal
It's the creation of UJ Ramdas and Alex Ikonn and it helps you practice gratitude every day.  I’ve been using this journal for over a year.  I love how simple, yet effective, it is for helping me keep a mindset of gratitude.

For 9 more ways to add gratitude into your daily life, check out this post.

Read a Great Book

“Everything you need for your better future and success has already been written. And guess what, It’s all available for free.”  — Jim Rohn

Books have been around for thousands of years and are full of life changing information.  Most of them are at your local library for free.

I know, I know… “who uses a library anymore?”  But this is an untapped resource of knowledge and opportunity that is absolutely free!  You'll likely find something good that will help you change those old mental presets.

If you need a few options to start with, check out: The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday and Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown.

These two books will help you look at life from a new perspective.

But don't think that the books have to be self-help books.  Even fiction books can be very helpful to reshaping and changing your mindset.  So don’t limit yourself to self-help books alone.

Want a few more book recommendations?  Check out my Resources page.

The Micro-Step Approach

The fastest way to change your mental presets is to take action and do something different or new.  We all have dreams and goals of being a better version of ourselves.  Yet, we rarely take the steps to achieve those goals.

Most of us get extremely motivated to change, only to come to a halt when the process gets hard.

The truth is, change is difficult at times.  But, I’ve found in my own life that we tend to make those changes harder because we try to do too much too soon.

For example, let’s say that you want to be more confident during conversations.  So, you think through how you can make that happen and all you come up with is, “I have to put myself out there.”

You begin to think that you have to start attending events and talking to people.  You tell yourself you have to start talking to people despite your nerves being through the roof.

But just the thought of doing this makes your palms sweat and your mind race.  You grow immediately uncomfortable.  Now, the thought of "acting" confident is causing a negative anxiety spiral of thoughts.

The problem is, this plan of action is too much too soon.

If you want to make real change in your life, look for the small steps you can take.  Then, look for even smaller ones.

The reason small steps work is because they set you up for success and help you build momentum toward your larger goal.

Let's go back to our example.  If you want to be more confident in conversations, you don’t need to introduce yourself to 100 people in a row.

Instead, just try to have a short conversation with the cashier at your local grocery store.  Or, take the step even smaller and simply look the cashier in the eye when she greets you.  (I’ll be sharing more about my eye contact  experiment soon, so stay tuned.)

Even though eye contact seems insignificant, it will make you appear more confident.

Most people don’t take the time to make eye contact with the service workers that we see every day.  So when you take the time to acknowledge the cashier or barista, you'll seem different.  You'll seem more confident than all the other people who never do it.

It will also help you feel more confident because you're taking a small step outside your comfort zone.  This small step will help you build momentum and gradually increase your confidence.  Plus, to start out, you don't even have to say a word.

So look for the micro-steps you can take.  Make eye contact, wave a hand, give a smile, and then when you're ready, say Hi.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t try to force your confidence to be the size of Rome before it’s ready.

Mind Your Presets

From time to time, you’re likely to get complacent with your thoughts and behavior.  It happens to all of us.  We get to a good place and stop looking for ways to improve ourselves or practice the skills that got us to this new point.

When that happens, we have to be mindful of our thoughts and how we are thinking of ourselves.  The goal is to not go back to how things used to be.  You don’t want to experience success with overcoming aspects of your social anxiety, only to revert back to who you used to be.  So it’s important to check in every few months or whatever works best for you.

When you’re checking in, just ask yourself:

Is the way I’ve been thinking about myself making my life more enjoyable or more difficult to deal with?

If all is well, keep things going.  If things aren’t good or heading in a negative direction, then it’s time for a reset.  Use the 3 options above to help you get back on track.

Practice gratitude.  Learn through reading.  Take micro-steps toward your goals.

So what do you say we change those presets?[sta_anchor id="practicegratitude"]

Next Action Steps

Practice Gratitude:  For the next 5 days, write down 1-3 things that you are sincerely grateful.  Try to do this first thing in the morning.  They don't have to be big things, but they do have to be things you're honestly grateful for.

For example: This morning I wrote in my Five Minute Journal that I was grateful for:

  1. The love and friendship that I share with my wife.
  2. Getting 7 hours of sleep last night
  3. The opportunity to practice initiating conversations with coworkers.

Five Minute Journal Entry


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Really enjoyed this Aaron! I have to start journaling. Been telling myself I need to do it but always coming up with an excuse not to do it. This made me really aware of my own eye contact or lack therof in public places. I really need to work on this immediately. Site looks great. Really clean and easy to navigate. Great job!

    1. Hey Tim, thanks so much for your comment, the site took a while to get together but I'm happy with it, and glad to hear you like it too.

      As for the journaling, I used to make a bunch of excuses too. I just had to find a way to make it so simply that I couldn't not do it. Give the 5 day challenge a try. It's a simple way to start the practice of journaling. In fact, you can do it right now. Just jot down 3 things your grateful for today. Complete that and you've started journaling.

  2. Great job Aaron I have a client who suffers from this I am going to tell her to read this article and maybe she can start a journal maybe that will help her. I help her a lot by talking with her but this may help her even more. Keep up the good work in helping others continue to be bless.

    1. Thank you so much Liz. I definitely think journaling can be very helpful and therapeutic. Plus it's a pretty easy thing to do. You don't need a special book or anything, just a pen, paper, and a willingness to be honest with yourself. I'd also encourage the use of gratitude. Listing a few things you're grateful for can go a long way.

  3. Aaron I absolutely love your new layout. It is so clean and easy to read. I am so impressed with it. And of course another great post as always. I really have to get back to journaling. I used to do it every day and rarely make the time anymore. But you are is so beneficial. xoxo Glad to have you back!

    1. Thanks Lisa, that means a lot to me coming from you. It feels so good to be back writing and involved in our anxiety-fighting community again. I hope you find your way back to journaling. It can be so helpful just to free your mind of your thoughts sometimes. I used to struggle with time to journal. But now I do it 2x a day. First thing in the morning and right before bed. If you can find just a few minutes to do it, I think you'll be glad you did.

      1. I like that gratitude journal a lot. When I finish up the one I am currently using I am going to look into that one. I tend to go on and on when i am journaling, as i am sure you would find shocking, which is one reason I don't do it. But if I had a printed format to follow to keep me focused I think that would make it easier for me to commit to doing it every day.

        1. I love it, first thing in the morning and last thing before bed every day. It really helps me find the good in every day. Sometimes I write more than the template requires, but usually just filling it in is enough. I think you'll really enjoy it.

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