Dumb Little Man

33 Expressive Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt & Anxiety like Madonna

Did you come here to read all about overcoming self-doubt?

I have good news and bad news.

Bad news is we are all here to learn lessons…sigh.

Good news is that we are meant to learn lessons and by addressing them, we can transform them into strengths.  Yaaayyy!

So why not transform self-doubt and anxiety into performance gold?

Just look to Madonna for inspiration.  This sassy, bold chameleon doubts herself saying, “I too have my moments of doubt and weakness.  My moments where I react before thinking things through.  My moments where I take the easy road.  My moments where I gossip and am envious.  My moments of deep insecurity.”  (Madonna admits Self-Doubt, 2001)

We aren’t all gifted with her talents, but why not dance through and past all the ‘what ifs’ using self-expression?

Inspired by the lyrics from Madonna’s, “Express Yourself”, here are 33 expressive methods to live fully through acceptance, failing, looking outward, simplifying, value, presence, spirituality, imperfection, honesty, creativity, and purpose.

Hit it Madonna! (Since I cannot use the lyrics direction, instead let us look to my interpretation of the song.)

1.    Act on your sizzle.

Before a nerve-wracking performance, journal about something you love.  Act on what you love with all your heart!

2.    Make panic your friend.


The more you pretend panic doesn’t exist, the more it tells you it does.  Like Jeff Goldblum’s line in Jurassic Park: “…life will not be contained.  Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously….life, uh…finds a way.”

Your panic is trying to live and keep you alive, so give it air and use it as performance fuel.

3.    Reduce alcohol and don’t be cold.

Don’t play it cool. Feel fully and limit alcohol, sugar, and caffeine which fuel anxiety and mask feelings.

She has something to say about it

You need to find your own voice and speak out about your feelings.  Transform your fear by taking accountability for your words, situation, and actions.  Stand out on purpose.

4.    Step out of garbage and breathe.

Step out of the life-sucking garbage of apathy and fear and make yourself a priority.

Build in the life-affirming habits of breathing and living intentionally. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold it in for 7, and exhale for 11 seconds to reset.

5.    Stop expecting to be misunderstood.

Don’t expect people to read your mind.  Find the words and meet people halfway to say what you think, feel, and need.

6.    Rock the boat and don’t ‘fit in’.

Don’t people-please or ‘fit in’. Build up integrity and act intuitively.  Your life is a series of choices. Make them and accept consequences.

Go for the best and don’t be afraid to test it.

It feels safer in your predictable circumstances but what is that costing you? Don’t settle for less or for anything less than the best. Don’t be afraid of things falling apart. Be willing to test things and let them fall apart and fail repeatedly until you succeed.

It takes courage to test your comfort zone and act on your feelings.

7.    Don’t judge.

Liberate from labeling.  Aren’t you tired of judging others and judging yourself? By stopping the cycle you will realize it takes up unecessary and unhelpful space.

8.    Fail fast and fail often.

Embrace quick, repeated failure allowing for the meant-to-learn lessons and opportunity.

9.    Compare real and imagined anxieties.

Test reality by comparing your actual with your anticipated anxiety.  Use that imagination for good and create something instead.

Get your man to express his feelings to know it is real

Be vulnerable to bring out the best in everyone and start the help cycle by asking for and offering help.  Get others to open up by opening up yourself.  Express honestly to bring out the best in yourself and others.

10.  Be a feeling sponge.  

After hearing ‘you’re too sensitive’, have you diluted your emotions? Tune into and channel this delicate, acute awareness positively.  The opposite is apathy, numbness, insensitivity, and unconsciousness.  So feel and contribute.

11.  Leave your island and ask for help.

Schedule a weekly social hour to spend less time isolated. Call a friend or plan a meetup or volunteer event.  Spark new and genuine connections.

12.  Help me help you and be a lantern.

Self-doubt is selfish; when you’re thinking, ‘What am I going to say when they’re done talking?’ 

Lighten your load and get out of your head by helping others with a smile and really listen.

You don’t need fancy expensive things that don’t last

Cut through superficiality; no longer under or over estimating your contribution and problems. You don’t need riches or superficial illusions or distractions.  Discover grounded, focused, light-hearted, and authentic expression.

13.  Ground yourself, start small and build.

I procrastinated through school with unrealistic expectations and break downs.  Grand ideas serve a purpose but make things happen with swift and assertive action.

See Also: How to Overcome Self-Doubt and Follow Through with Your Goals

14.  Be narrow-minded.

Your anticipatory mind is too open to possibilities! That’s fabulous and it’s overwhelming. Use a simplified focus to get clear.

15.  Why so serious?

Stop taking yourself so seriously, learn to laugh and move on.  Do your best.

You need a strong hand to lift you up

Build your future on a rock solid foundation.

16.  Let go of the reins and get wild!

Anxiety is about control so hand it over and step out of your comfort zone.  Spend time in nature where you can draw upon perfection outside the computer.

17.  Practice Gratitude.

Recall a success.  Get clear and descriptive, using all your senses, to recall it when needed.

18.  Think and be still.

Fill your spiritual well and clear your thoughts by focusing on your breath, 10 minutes daily, for powerful, lasting, and building benefits.

Feel like royalty and never come down

Find the perfection in imperfection and start to feel entitled to a full and rewarding life.  True happiness comes from being, not doing.  Find this space and live fully in the present. You deserve it.

19.  Be like man’s best friend.

Animals are geniuses at life so try to tune into nature with no agenda.  Your pet companion will also calm anxieties and never judges.  My cat’s day consists of sleep, sun, petting, food, and cuteness.

20.  Practice outside in success.

Imagine you are successful through “what if’s”.  Success comes from practice; it’s muscle memory.  Read Amy Cuddy’s book Presence and practice positive body language so that your mind will follow suit.

21.  To the death!

Don’t let anything, especially perfectionism, get in the way of finishing.  Consistent commitment and follow-through automates success, confidence, and a final product of your own.

Don’t be fooled with roses

There has to be trust built upon truth

Keep your head straight with a solid, honest foundation.  Consider the rationality of ‘what if’ outcomes.  Recognize when your thoughts are irrational and refocus.

See Also: 3 Ways to Develop Rock Solid Self-Confidence

22.  Tear down walls.

Feel and express your feelings, even anger.  Honesty will crumble down the walls separating you from others and lead to purpose and happiness.

23.  No more manipulation.

No more sighing, criticizing, complaining, and whining. Don’t pretend things are good.  Live in truth and act assertively as a fruitful place to build upon.

24.   Be yourself and grow.

Live your truth and keep growing.  Commit to something like yoga on Thursdays as a positive way to connect.

You deserve the best so keep walking if it is not the right time

Find your standards, balance, and discipline starting with building positivity and structure in your day.

25.  Build with compassion and friendship.

Instead of destructive “I can’t” language, build and speak from your heart positively.  Master the art of caring without being a doormat.

26.  Balance it out.

Prioritize balance for calm, healthy, centered living.  Don’t underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep, an organized home, a healthy routine, breaks, and a friend over ‘more important work’.

27.  Kick some butt.

Consider a workout routine.  Find yourself in the discipline and connect with your breathing, body, accomplishments, commitment, and follow through.

Express Yourself

Channel repressed thoughts into expressiveness, making decisions that open doors and improve your life’s richness.

28.  Art and Music.

Find your artistic side through painting, sculpting, or drawing, or music.

29.  Rearrange/decorate.

This can be as simple as rearranging your room or organizing your closet. It’s positive, expressive action.  I recommend also the life changing magic of tidying up.

30.  Perform.

Take an acting or public speaking class.  Practice alone, on camera, online, or in front of a group.

When your man leaves you, he might be regretting it and thinking about you and try to win you back

Be mindful, don’t regret the past, and immerse yourself in the present. Make the most out of the present and have no regrets.

31.  Find a cause.

Nothing like getting present, than finding a cause you’re passionate about; it may lead you to your purpose.

Madonna also recommends giving to communities and schools saying, “When you feel down or trapped, get outside of yourself and do something nice for someone.  This is a great cure for sadness, anxiety and self-obsession.” (Madonna admits Self-Doubt, 2001)

32.  Focus on a goal.

Instead of being caught up with what people are thinking of you, consider what you want to get across and consider learning something new.  Ask why on both of these until you get to the core reasons.

33.  Have a positive, action-oriented to do list!

Embrace what you can do today with no regrets.  Commit to completing one item per day that will get you closer to your goal.  “I will write the first sentence of my book today!”

Don’t wither or shy away from your next speech or social event, allowing self-doubt to rob you.  Expand, bloom, and boldly shine as you are with balance, passion, and color to move from self-doubt into honest self-expression.


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