Do you like feeling anxious? Would you prefer feeling excited to feeling anxious?
Did you know that a doctor reading your vital statistics can’t tell the difference between you feeling anxiety and you feeling excitement?
I looked it up and have a peer-reviewed paper somewhere confirming that—something like that the two emotions are physiologically concordant, or some academic-speak like that.
The point is that your body reacts the same when you feel either way. Your pulse increases, your breathing gets shallower, and so on. Only your mind differs. Excitement has a feeling of optimism, anxiety has more pessimism, roughly speaking.
How to use this information
I don’t know about you, but I prefer feeling excitement over anxiety, especially in high stress situations. I speak in public a lot, so I find myself in stressful situations.
I remind myself that as far as my body is concerned, I am feeling excitement.
The only difference is my mood or emotion, which results from my beliefs, which result from my inner monologue. If you’ve done the exercise in this post, “The most effective self-awareness exercise I know of,” you’re familiar with that voice and how you don’t have to be a slave to its chaotic and inevitable jumping around. I just search for a belief that will create optimism and the anxiety turns into excitement.
It’s that easy. You can change a lot of emotions this easily. I just mention these two since they are so close and anxiety is so common.
Experience makes changing easier.
It helps me to recall an experience where anxiety changed to excitement fast. When I played ultimate frisbee, sometimes I’d find myself in a high pressure game. Before the game, especially right before it started, when I felt the pressure but couldn’t yet do anything about it, my anxiety would increase. It would peak just before my first catch of the game, often receiving the pull (ultimate frisbee’s equivalent of football’s receiving the kickoff). No matter how anxious I felt, once I caught it, threw my first pass, and started running, the anxiety turned to excitement. The change took seconds.
If I could change my emotions that fast then, I can change them that fast now. Anyone can. Whether you act on your emotional system purposefully or not, it works the same. Now I do it purposefully.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book