Excitement vs fear

December 20 2012

Racing heart, quickened pulse, shallow breathing, heightened awareness, tingling extremities.

What does that sound like to you?

It’s easy to group anxiety, fear, nervousness, and excitement together because we physically experience them in similar ways.  What distinguishes these sensations from each other is the lens through which we perceive them.

Fear often stops us in our tracks, preventing us from progression and development. It’s the tree falling directly onto our chosen path, leaving us questioning whether we’re heading down the right road. It’s a powerful paralysis.

Excitement is that green light encouraging us to move forward and do. It provides the permission, space, and courage to dream and make big things happen. A close relative of passion and creativity, excitement feeds and propels one towards action.

Our opportunity is the moment in which we step back and observe our fears, quietly noticing what excites us.

How do you interpret your tightening muscles and thumping heart?

Can you slow your breathing just enough to focus on the present moment?

Would the situation change if you rephrased fear as excitement?

Are you stunting your ideas, growth, curiosity, and ability to create?

What it would be like to run towards the situation, instead of away?

Common situations that feel scary:

  • just before a big presentation
  • entering a new environment
  • unexpected scenarios
  • meeting a senior partner
  • visiting a new place
  • job interviews
  • cold-calling new sales leads
  • proposing your idea to the team
  • quitting your job
  • transitions
  • large events (weddings, family reunions, corporate gatherings)
  • conflicts
  • first dates
  • public speaking

Recognize how you assimilate these kinds of experiences. Be the armchair anthropologist of your own life and simply observe. Then, challenge yourself to turn fear into excitement. Practice patience with your fear (and yourself), and use physical sensations as an internal compass. See if you can push past what you’re afraid of and bring excitement to the table.

I’ve found the things that excite and scare me often deliver the greatest rewards.