This coming week is filled with excitement and anxiety.
It is interesting to note that both anxiety and excitement elicit the same physiological responses within the body.
Just think about a time you felt excited what do you notice?
Your heart beating quicker, your breathing speeding up, a butterfly sensation in your stomach? The same emotions that you may have experienced when you felt anxious?
It’s a very fine line between anxiety and excitement.
When I’m excited, I’m wild about the possibilities. I’m stepping into the unknown. I’m going full-speed ahead. I’m not stopping to care or worry or think about things going wrong.
I don’t have time for that! I have places to go, things to do, universes to conquer.
The difference to me between the two, is that when I’m in anxiety mode, I’m focused on
“What if things go wrong?” I’m taking a step back from life, from success, from enjoying the experiences of living.
So making the subtle shift between anxiety and excitement is pretty important especially if I want to get the most out of life.
Anxiety is also the most common of psychiatric complaints and results in the most referrals to the Step2 service. Young people worrying about exams, parents worrying about their children’s futures, anxieties about finances, relationships and a variety of other phobias and fears.
So lets explore a few real life examples of excitement vs anxiety.
I am excited and anxious about the Village Secret event on Friday.
The excitement is building pictures and ideas in my head, it is getting my creative juices flowing. I am thinking about how to display the clothes and shoes, getting hold of accessories, shopping for Prosecco and nibbles, whether to wear my wig or not.
The anxiety emotion is focusing on the negative.
Will people turn up, will they enjoy the evening, do I have enough stock and will I manage at least to recuperate the excessive amount of money I spent on it?
Now, as the idea of the whole event was about a bunch of girls getting together to have a bit of fun. It would be a shame to allow a thinking style to spoil that happening. So lets do a bit of shifting.
To begin with, I know friends from the village will turn up as they have already said they would and I have no evidence of them letting me down before so that thought can be dismissed for a start.
And will we have fun? Well that is a given, a couple of glasses of Prosecco and a good old catch up has always worked in the past.
Can you notice the shift happening?
The next anxious thought – Do I have enough clothes and shoes, have I got the right sizes , will I recuperate my costs and be able to some raise money for charity?
Well, it is the first one I have ever done, so I have to give myself a little leeway here. I can’t be expected to know everyone tastes and sizes but I have sorted out some style sheets so I will be able to collect this information ready for the next one (if we all think its a good idea to put on another Village Secret evening). I am confident We will have fun trying different things on and I am sure some people will find some things they like. I have also had fun shopping online in the early hours of the morning, in my steroid fuelled moments.
One of the NLP suppositions is there are is “No such thing as failure, only feedback” so I know I will certainly learn from the experience , even if it is not to allow myself loose with my credit card ( or Paypal) whilst on steroids!
Lets look at another example.
I am anxious (and Colin is even more so) about Colin’s angiogram and possible stent implant on Wednesday.
We are anxious because we don’t know what is going to happen. Will it be painful, could it go wrong, what will they find?
First of all we could normalise this anxiety. It wouldn’t be normal not to feel a little anxious.
We have carried out some research and talked to other people who have experienced this before.
We know that this procedure has been done thousands of times with positive results.
We can feel excited about the difference it may make to Colin’s life and the more energy he may have in the future.
Here’s how to change your focus and get shifting:
1) normalise your anxiety, is it in proportion to the event ahead?
2) could you use the anxious thought as a driver to get you moving?
3) think of the physiological experiences you are experiencing as the same feeling of excitement.
4) focus on the positive outcomes rather than the what if
5) if you do have the ‘what if’ thoughts look for evidence for these . How justified are these thoughts?
I hope you find this helpful.
Now back to Which therapy?
Neuro . Linguistic Programming
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the basis for Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapy (NLPt). It was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder and was largely studied at the University of California, during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is now used internationally by millions of people throughout the world in such diverse fields as management, sales, marketing, public relations, education and therapy.
Psychologists had been studying performance and communication for years but what was different about the NLP approach was that it emphasised the study of what worked well in order to discover what were the essential ingredients – rather than studying what was not working and then looking for solutions for this.
Additionally NLP was available to everyone – being a behaviourally based process it did not require years of university study and the two core NLP programmes of practitioner and master practitioner could be completed quite quickly. However, longer in depth training programmes are currently being developed and made available through universities.
The main reason for its popularity and for the enthusiasm with which NLP spread, and was assimilated into so many disciplines, is the simple fact that it is remarkably effective. Significant personal and professional changes that might have taken months or years to achieve through traditional methods could be made in just a few hours.
The core belief of this approach is that people do not react to their environment as it is, but rather they build their perception from their experiences as they relate to the world around them. Each person develops his or her own map of his or her world, and by doing such, no one ever possesses a map that fully represents the true environment. Because each person experiences different life events, and subsequently different reactions to those events, no two people will ever be guided on the same journey.
This technique allows a person to view the steps that have led them to where they are and to examine the negative and positive influences, behaviors, and choices that brought them there. NLP also examines areas of success and uses these as a springboard for developing other successful emotions and determines the most efficient way to use these experiences and emotions in every day situations. This technique of “modeling” allows for rapid transformation.
Finding a good training or therapist is very important and I would recommend going along to a taster group or an initial first appointment and trust your own instincts. A good NLP practitioner will have excellent rapport building skills and should quickly be able to tap into your map of the world if you don’t experience this happening in the first appointment then find another that you feel happy with and notice this happening.
What you may have noticed between all the therapeutic approaches that have been discussed through the last few blog posts, is the similarities between them all. In their own way they all aim to guide the client towards a path of better understanding of themselves and a shift in their thinking patterns.
The trick is to find the approach that best suits you at the time you are seeking the help.
Have a great start to the week and if you are having any negative thoughts get shifting!