From Excitement to Anxiety
For the past few months, I have felt super pumped about finishing/publishing my book, and having a big book release party. As I’m getting closer to my book’s release and my release party, I’ve been noticing feelings of anxiety building up.
So what’s the deal?
In the past when I would work on a project and the inevitable feeling of anxiety would present itself, I would interpret it as a sign that I wasn’t cut out for what I was doing and throw in the towel.
‘Goodbye dream number 37. Guess that one wasn’t meant to work out either…’
Nowadays I have a very different interpretation of anxiety. With the help of reflection, journaling, my amazing business coach (Britt Bolnick), and many other wise teachers, I finally understand what anxiety is all about, and how to press on despite its uncomfortable nature.
Anxiety, like any other emotion we experience, has messages for us.
Much of the time, anxiety does not come up to derail us on our path, but to help us grow stronger in our determination to succeed. Feeling anxious about a project that started out feeling exciting and inspiring? If so, the message your anxiety is sending you is probably something like,
“This is an exciting, new thing you are doing. You care a lot about this. You are afraid you’re going to fail, make a fool of yourself, or not measure up to your own or someone else’s standards,” or whatever else your fears may be.
When we’re embarking on something new, it is completely normal for anxiety to come up along with doubts and fears. Doubts and fears like:
“But what if this turns our terribly?” “What if I’m just not cut out for this?” “What if everyone thinks I’m a fraud?”
The way to overcome our anxiety, doubts, and fears is not to stop having them, but rather, to respond to them in a conscious way.
The first step of overcoming our anxieties is the simple act of noticing their presence. Once we notice them, we can remind ourselves that it is normal to feel anxiety when we’re doing new things, putting ourselves out there, and stepping beyond our comfort zone.
Once we acknowledge our anxiety, we can take a moment to be still and ask ourselves what messages it has for us. Do we truly wish to stop what we are doing, or do we just care a whole lot about what we’re doing and fear things not turning out how we want them to?
In the end, we must choose to press on despite our anxiety, despite our fears and our doubts.
We may not be able to prevent ourselves from feeling anxious, but we do have the power to choose how to respond to our anxious feelings. I used to let my anxiety rule me, quitting whatever project I was working on and telling myself it was for my own good. Though this may have alleviated my anxiety in the short-term, it robbed me of confidence and fulfillment in the long-term.
If you’re experiencing anxiety about something in your life, ask yourself:
- What message(s) does my anxiety have for me? (i.e. what thoughts or circumstances contribute to this feeling?
- Is there fear behind this anxiety? If so, of what?
- Did this activity used to bring feelings of passion, fulfillment, and joy? If so, when did these feelings stop? What does that tell me?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I continued pursuing this?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I stopped pursuing this?
After answering these questions, decide whether or not you want to continue on the path you are on, or whether you need to make some tweaks. Making a change in your life course is totally fine, so long as you are doing it for the right reasons. (i.e. to be true to yourself, to learn and grow, to follow your highest inspirations and inner guidance.
Whatever you do, don’t let your anxieties and fears stop you in your tracks without getting to the bottom of them!
Anxiety is not a bad or a rare thing. It is a normal human emotion and many of us experience it regularly- especially when we are pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and doing things that really matter to us. After all, if it didn’t matter, why would we worry about it?
At the end of the day, the more we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, the greater our potential for learning, growth, and fulfillment.
Instead of hating or hiding from your anxiety, make it a friend and learn the lessons it has to share with you. Your life will be all the more fulfilling for it!!