Wouldn’t life be exciting if there was an antidote to fear? FEAR is the mother of all road blocks. It stops many of us from going after our dreams. Many women have beautiful songs that will forever be unsung. The fear of failing, looking foolish, not being worthy, too old, judged, criticized, not accepted or laughed at is just too much. It breaks my heart that the world will never receive the gifts these amazing women offer and they will never experience the ultimate joy and fulfillment of becoming all they can be.
I was recently introduced to the work of a very bright young man – Adam Grant
He’s a bestselling author and a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Grant has been recognized as both the youngest tenured and highest rated professor at the Wharton School – that’s saying something. He’s smart, funny and engaging. His work is primarily geared towards business and management psychology but can easily be applied to the individual. I loved his stand on excitement vs calm as a strategy to deactivate fear. Here’s an excerpt from his new book, Originals.
“To overcome fear, why does getting excited work better than trying to calm yourself down? Fear is an intense emotion: you can feel your heart pumping and your blood coursing. In that state, trying to relax is like slamming on the brakes when the car is going 80 miles an hour. The vehicle still has momentum. Rather than trying to suppress a strong emotion, it’s easier to convert it into a different emotion – one that’s equally intense, but propels us to step on the gas.
Physiologically, we have a stop system and a go system. Your ‘stop’ system slows you down and makes you cautious and vigilant. Your ‘go’ system revs you up and makes you excited. Instead of hitting the stop switch we can motivate ourselves to act in the face of fear by pressing the go switch. Fear is marked by uncertainty about the future. We’re worried that something bad will happen. But because the event hasn’t occurred yet, there’s a distinct possibility, that the outcome will be positive. We can step on the gas by focusing on reasons to move forward – the sliver of excitement that we feel about breaking loose and singing our song.”
Adam Grant from Originals
Adam Grant is not the only one who sees excitement as a powerful tool.
Amy Cuddy is a researcher/author and another outstanding thought leader
A Harvard psychologist and TED star Amy Cuddy investigates how to unleash your boldest self to heighten your confidence, influence others, and perform at your peak.
Here’s an excerpt from her most recent book, Presence.
“Students are asked to give an impromptu speech before a panel of judges. We wanted to know which approach led to better performance. Trying to calm down or channeling your energy into excitement.
One group was advised to say, “I am calm.” The other, “I am excited.”
The I am excited group significantly outperformed I am calm group. Why?
Because it’s almost impossible to shift from a high-arousal state of fear and anxiety immediately into a calm state. It’s like suddenly slamming on the brakes at high speed. Not a good idea.
Much wiser to take all that fear and simply reframe it as excitement—channeling it into a positive, constructive direction and effectively, pressing go on the accelerator rather than stop.
And “I am excited” is a shockingly simple way to make that happen.
So how to deactivate fear? Get excited.
Amy Cuddy from Presence
I love the strategy of using excitement to overcome fear.
Excitement is energy plus positive emotion and it is part of joy, passion, and having fun.
With excitement everything is heightened and alive; without excitement flat, bland and inert.
So go ahead……take a page from the books of these young progressive leaders and tell yourself that it’s not only ok it’s optimal to get excited, thrilled or aroused.
Become mindful of the wet blankets in your own mind, so they can dry out.
Be aware of how you might be putting a damper on excitement, such as tightening your body, deadening your feelings, or thinking those dream busting thoughts like… I don’t want to standout… be too much for people…be uncool… look foolish.
Consider some of the practices for raising energy from yoga, exercise or any physical activity, taking multiple deep breaths (not to the point of lightheadedness) sensing energy in the core of your body a few inches above the navel, jumping up and down a few times or making deep guttural sounds (what actors do to get ready to perform).
Also be aware that excitement makes some people uncomfortable—to keep their own passions bottled up, they put a lid on those of others—and honestly that’s their problem not yours. With this sort of person, you may need to disengage, find others who share your interests and walk to the beat of your own drummer.
Remember the essence of excitement is enthusiasm—whose root meaning is, “moved by something extraordinary, even divine”.
Please pass this along to Sisters who are ready to or need encouragement to excitedly embrace Life.
Your turn….how has excitement moved your life? Please share in the comments below.