In this post, you’ll learn how to turn anxiety into excitement. There is a simple shift you can use to transform your anxiety into words. Read on to learn more.
One time, when I was working in the desert in an outdoor therapy program with youth, we had a super hot week. July in Utah, the temps hit over 100 degrees every day. It was hot, sweaty, and exhausting.
One day, when I was sitting there in the heat, feeling sorry for myself, I decided to try a thought experiment. I thought about how I loved hot baths, I love a bath so hot it makes my skin red and sweaty.
So I imagined that the waves of heat were actually me sitting in a hot bath, enjoying the feeling of the heat relaxing my muscles.
And suddenly my experience transformed, I went from dreading and suffering, to appreciating the discomfort. It was just a weird shift that took me from suffering to appreciating.
How To Turn Anxiety Into Excitement
There is no physiological difference between anxiety and excitement.
Inside your body, it’s the same physical response- cortisol, adrenaline, etc. rapid breathing, increased heart rate. You can flip a switch in your brain, when you say “bring it on!” I actually want this! Let’s go!” That transforms your experience. In this video you’ll learn how you can use two words to transform anxiety into confidence.
So a lot of times when someone is anxious, the advice they’re given is to “Calm down” to “Relax” but it’s actually quite difficult to switch from an activated emotion like anxiety to a lower level of activation like calmness, it’s not impossible, it’s just hard. It’s actually much easier to switch from one intense emotion to another. So a simple way to transform anxiety is to say “I’m excited” Those two words can make all the difference.
Researchers have found that when people say “I’m excited” they actually gave better public speeches, they sang better in (a) karaoke lounge, and they did better on math tests. It sounds too simple to be true, but what you’re really doing is getting yourself out of a threat mindset, where you’re focused on all the things that could go wrong, and into an opportunity mindset, where you’re thinking about all the good things that could happen if you do well.”
The emotion of anxiety is supposed to prepare you to take action. To help you perform. It’s the exact same physiological response in your body as excitement.
I read a great comment on a video the other day, here’s what Bryce said “This idea literally changed my life growing up. When I was getting ready for my first speech ever, with my school’s speech team, my coach asked if I was “scared or excited”. She then asked me to turn that extra energy (making me shake and sweat with anxiety)(and channel it) to project my voice and increase my stage presence. It actually somehow worked. I still get anxious about public speaking to this day, but use the way I THINK about the anxiety to try and redirect it into positive energy. It doesn’t work all the time but that one event in high school has helped me so much in life.”
It's All Part Of the Adventure
Let me give you another example.
There’s something about being outdoors that is uncomfortable, hard, but also enjoyable. And I think it’s the mindset. The marathon near my house, their slogan is “Pain you enjoy” people choose to run 26. 2 miles in a day even though it hurts- and they enjoy the pain.
Mountaineers experience exhaustion, freezing, hunger, but when you choose to intentionally engage with discomfort, it changes your experience with it. They probably whine a lot less on the mountain than they do in an office building where the AC is set a little warm.
Check out this video with two awesome rock climbers, they’ve been climbing this huge face for hours, they’re tired, hungry, worn down, it’s dark and they’ve got huge rock faces beneath them and above them. So what do they do? They dance
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
This is part of the adventure!
Choose To See Anxiety As Normal And Natural
I try to teach this to my kids, when we’re out exploring and they scrape their knee or fall down or get cut or something we just say “That’s 3 Hard core points!” like getting hurt or doing hard things or getting whipped in the face accidentally by the branch is part of our goal. Sometimes big owies get like 5 hardcore points.
It’s not that I minimize the pain, I hug them and love on them, it’s that we say “pain is part of the adventure! And that transforms it from something “Bad” to something that just is.
So what does this have to do with anxiety? When you choose to see anxiety as a normal, natural and healthy part of accomplishing your dreams and goals, suddenly feeling scared is part of the adventure. And you’re actually excited about it.
You see that emotional nudge as a sign that this is something you care about. When I teach or do a live event, I feel a bit of anxiety and I think “This means I care, this means I’m excited, this means it’s important to me. Let’s do this!” (and to be honest, the more time I spend teaching, the less anxious I feel about it, but I still feel excited).
Sometimes we really can calm ourselves down, we can combat catastrophic thinking or soothe our body, but sometimes the very best thing is to just convert all the powerful energy from our emotions into action! Awesome action! It’s like surfing, you’re not trying to stop the waves, you’re learning to flow with them.
Feeling nervous is your body preparing you for action. Instead of trying to calm down- tell yourself that you’re excited. How you interpret those feelings, how you relate to those sensations determines the outcomes
Bring it on!
Make me as anxious as you want
This ought to be a fun challenge.
It’s also helpful if you predict it. Say “If I agree to give that speech, I’ll feel some nerves, but that’s normal, it just means I’m excited and I care a lot”. When we choose something instead of feeling like we’re surprised by something, it shifts our experience to a sense of confidence and control. I call this “Challenge by Choice” When I decide that “I choose this” I get to be excited about it.
How can you do this with work? With a difficult person? (ooh, this is a chance to see if I can keep my cool, what a fun challenge?) With a social situation? With morning anxiety? “Ooh, this anxiety means that I’m excited about something today- I wonder what’s going to be awesome about today? Let’s take some action!
If you like to have a list of steps for this kind of thing- here you go:
- Get super specific about your fear. I’m afraid I’ll say something stupid.
- Reframe that fear as excitement “I’m excited to share these important ideas”
- Visualize positive outcomes and how you’ll feel when you’ve done it
- Use positive affirmations. “I am capable.”
- Convert your anxious energy into working on presentation
- Reward yourself afterwards – Remind yourself of the good you did, give yourself praise, accept the praise from others,
Here’s one last example from the comments section:
When I’m starting to feel dread or frustration from work, I used to start finding myself thinking about how much I hated my job and almost repeat it like a mantra in my head, to “get through it.” But a couple weeks ago I stopped myself from thinking that way and instead tried telling myself that I love my job and enjoy doing it. And what do you know, it helped a ton. I started feeling more excited about it and working overtime because I was having so much fun.
OK, so there you go. You can transform anxiety into excitement with two words “I’m excited”. Tell the anxiety. Bring it on! Let’s channel that energy into performance! You got this!
This is day 20 from my online course Break the Anxiety Cycle in 30 Days. You can access the full course below.