Excitement VS Fear
I am standing in line for a amusement ride and I am becoming more conscious of the tightening of my chest and becoming more apprehensive by the minute as we wait. My friend on the other hand is positively bursting with apprehension and excitement.
On the ride we both sense the intensity of what is to come, hearts racing, muscles tensing, adrenaline rushing…yet we are both feeling very different emotions???
How does someone have exactly the same experience as you yet will have completely different feeling about it? It is not what you feel but what meaning you attach to the feeling.
Excitement and Fear are closely aligned in the brain. They share similar physiological responses. The difference is not how the body reacts but what meaning we attach to that feeling. My friend had decided she was going to enjoy that ride and she did. I chose (subconsciously) to have a bad time…and I did! Self fulfilling prophecy.
The mind is a powerful thing however, imagine if you could reframe fear as excitement? The good news is this is totally achievable!
There are a number of ways to do this. For example if you have self belief in your abilities you can choose to embrace the experience and utilise calming techniques if needed. However there is another more counter intuitive approach that studies have shown to be effective. Blocking out or avoiding undesirable sensations or even trying to calm down can be at times not helpful in addressing the issue. Instead practising to embrace the idea that fear is not the enemy.
In a study called Get Excited: Reappraising Pre performance Anxiety as Excitement by Professor Allison Wood Brooks explored how people reframed to get excited rather than relax before a difficult situation and noted that this improved their performance.
Professor Wood Brooks surmises that why this is an effective approach is because de regulating anxiety when it is very heightened is extremely difficult and often ineffective. Instead by challenging yourself the feelings in your body are positive you are more likely to be able to use that energy to your advantage in that situation.
Initially it may be a “fake to you make it” approach but eventually your brain will become used the those bodily sensations of adrenaline and will not become threatened by them in those situations.
Ultimately you can take charge of your brain and go from fear into excitement. If you convince your brain to perceive situations differently you can finally see challenges not threats, opportunities rather than obstacles and hopefully experience more fun!
Look for a challenge in your life and next time you are confronted with it use it as a chance to practice this mind of matter technique.
Check out the link below for more information on this “exciting” study.
Excitement VS Fear