Can we turn anxiety and panic into a positive experience? Can we transform fear into excitement with one mental switch?
I believe we can and I am going to explain how it is done.
Anxiety/panic is an experience everyone tries to avoid and run from. Our instinct is to fight against the feeling and find some way to end it quickly so that we can return to feeling calm. All our mental and physical effort goes into trying to feel calm again.
I believe however that people get much faster results if they learn to turn anxiety into excitement, -rather than trying to create calm.
The reason for this is because being anxious and excited are actually the same physiological states for your body (the aroused state) so your mind can make the switch between those states much easier than it can between feeling anxious and calm.
So by turning your anxiety into excitement, you can quickly remove the fear factor while still feeling physically aroused. Because the fear has been removed you will then feel in control and a state of calm will come about naturally.
Let’s use the example of a panic attack. A panic attack is almost always triggered by bodily sensations. Maybe your heart starts pounding or your chest feels tight. Maybe you feel dizzy or your body shakes. You know very well when its about to kick off and in a split second your mind reacts with fear to these bodily sensations. “Oh no here we go again, I am going to have a panic attack, -I might lose control, -I might die”.
That initial reaction is so split second it is almost impossible to control but at least now you are aware of what is happening and NOW is your moment to stop reacting and to choose a new response. Instead of reacting with resistance and fear to the sensations, you are going to respond with curiosity and excitement.
Here are the actual steps you need to take so that you can quickly move from fear to excitement:
- Do not fight or resist the bodily sensations. (Remember, you are safe these sensations will not harm you)
- Befriend the sensations and anxiety you feel, -do not see it as your enemy, it is your guide.
- Embrace the sensations fully and observe them with a compassionate curiosity.
- Now PLAY with the sensations. Encourage the bodily sensations to intensify. Get excited by this heightened state of arousal. Push the energy out and run with it. Let your heart pound, let your chest feel tight, let your mind race, let your body shake. Do not try and control it, experience it fully and feel really excited and alive because of it.
By taking the above steps you are doing something completely different. You are no longer resisting but embracing and moving with the experience. This movement is one of pure excitement as you ride the wave of fear, instead of letting it toss you around.
Some people like to compare anxiety to a thrilling roller coaster ride. Something exhilarating that they are willing participants in. By becoming really excited by the anxiety you feel, instead of resisting it, you immediately diminish the power it holds over you. You are placed back in a position of control.
That is the secret to turning fear into excitement!
Author note: Credit goes to Mary O’Malley and Neale Donald Walsch for clarifying the dynamics of reaction and response.