Anxiety is something we all face and to some, it can be debilitating. Common advice when we are experiencing anxiety is to “just calm down.” But our bodies are designed to react in particular ways during particular experiences based on our primitive ancestors’ survival instinct. So when we feel anxiety, it’s because we are supposed to.
But what we do with that anxiety is something we can work to control. We can let it overtake us and build up excess worry, or we can channel it into something useful to help us get through a challenging experience.
So today, I challenge you to turn your anxiety into excitement.
Let’s go through two scenarios to capture these feelings:
Anxiety experience: Think of something that makes you feel anxious, perhaps speaking in public, dealing with a difficult customer, confronting someone who said something offensive to you or doing something risky, like jumping out of a plane. Put yourself in that situation, really picturing the whole scenario. Imagine the thoughts you’d be having and anticipate how you and anyone in the situation will react. Feel the anxiety this situation is causing, even the physical reaction. Maybe you’re getting a lump in your throat, your blood pressure is rising or maybe you’re even getting a little shaky.
These are normal, natural reactions. But what if you could channel that energy into something useful? Take that anxious energy and bring it into the next scenario:
Excitement experience: Think of a situation in your life where you have experienced intense excitement. Perhaps the way you felt on Christmas Eve as a child, anticipating a visit from Santa. Or maybe you went on a really fun trip that you were excited for or a time when you received really good news. Think about the emotions you felt, how time could not go fast enough and how you had so much energy focused on what was about to come. You almost felt like you’re going to explode from all the excitement and nothing could stop you.
See how easy it was to change your anxiety into excitement? This is something you can do on your own to take control of your life and your feelings to make your emotions work for you. Don’t let fear of the unknown slow you down, imagine all the possibilities and opportunities each experience brings to you!
Today, I challenge you to take a situation in which you feel anxiety and turn those feelings into excitement.
Take these steps to change your attitude and improve how you handle difficult situations:
- Let yourself be anxious. While you’re going to stop anxiety from lingering too long, it’s important to do what your mind and body wants to do. If you feel anxiety, acknowledge it and prepare to move on from it before it takes over and decreases your confidence.
- Focus on how good you will feel when you are finished with whatever is causing your anxiety. What helps us persevere through difficult times is to focus on the goal and how good we’ll feel when we reach our goal. Just like running a race, you may feel tired and a bit defeated partway through the race, but when you cross the finish line, the feelings of elation from your success outweigh the feelings of defeat you had during the race. Try to focus on what an honor it is that you were chosen to take on that particular task and how proud you and others will be of you once you complete the task.
- Find something to be excited about. Maybe you have to make a difficult phone call or give a presentation. Instead of thinking about how anxious you are to perform the task, think about how excited you are. Maybe you found a new way to perform the task so you’re excited to see how well it works or maybe you know something your team doesn’t know so you are excited to share that with them. Find something to be excited about and replace the feelings of anxiety with your excitement.
- Reward yourself. Whether you succeed or fail at whatever was making you anxious, reward yourself for making an effort and completing the task. Maybe you decided to finally apply for a new job and you got an interview, so reward yourself with a new outfit to wear to the interview. When you wear the outfit, you will remember that it’s a reward for doing something difficult and you can be proud every time you wear it.
- Plan for the future: Once you complete a difficult task, think about how exciting it would be to do it or something similar again in the future. Think about things you could do to impress others or how you could anticipate questions or reactions they may have. This way, you are already creating an excited mindset in the event the situation arises in the future, making it easier to convert your anxiety to excitement.
Chances are, if you make these changes and maintain excited thoughts toward challenges in your life, you will notice they won’t affect you as much and you may even decide to take on even more challenges to step out of your comfort zone.
The goal in this challenge is to change your mindset to work for you, instead of against you so you can complete tasks with confidence instead of fear. You deserve to be happy and by changing your anxious thoughts to excited thoughts, others will notice how well you can handle challenges. Don’t let your anxiety hold you back; focus on excitement and all the positive things in your life and your confidence will skyrocket.
If you took my challenge, I’d love to hear how it worked for you and what you did to change your anxiety to excitement! Just let me know in the comments below.