Feeling Anxious? Think Like An Athlete!
In my role, where I engage with high achievers, a recurring theme is their desire to shed the weight of worry and anxiety. It’s a pursuit of excellence driven by the belief that anxiety might hinder their path. However, our journey together has unveiled a thought-provoking possibility: What if these discomforting emotions are not roadblocks but rather stepping stones to their aspirations? What if anxiety could be the driving force behind their personal growth and accomplishments?
High achievers are known for their relentless pursuit of excellence, often leading them to seek the eradication of negative emotions. But what if, instead of viewing worry as a hindrance, they saw it as a valuable ally? What if moments of anxiety could serve as the catalyst for their progress, propelling them forward rather than holding them back?
In my earlier years, I dedicated myself to assisting high achievers in banishing negative emotions. I introduced them to various techniques and tools, all aimed at quelling anxiety. However, a pivotal moment in my own journey prompted me to reconsider:
What if worry isn’t an adversary but a guide?
What if these feelings of unease and discomfort have a purpose?
What if anxiety could be the driving force that pushes high achievers toward their goals instead of deterring them?
Scientific studies have highlighted the intricate connection between anxiety and excitement, both manifesting with similar physiological responses in our bodies. The critical distinction lies in how we perceive these responses. When high achievers interpret these sensations as anxiety, they often experience discomfort. However, if they can reframe these sensations as excitement, they may unlock a wellspring of motivation.
So, instead of relentlessly striving to eliminate anxiety, a more powerful approach might involve shifting their perspective on it.
Harnessing the Power of Anxiety: Insights from High-Performing Athletes
Now, let’s delve into the mindset of high-performing athletes accustomed to thriving under extreme pressure. Picture an elite surfer gearing up to conquer a colossal wave. Moments of doubt are inevitable before confronting this formidable challenge. There might be a fleeting moment of self-doubt, a wish to be back on dry land, and an adrenaline rush intertwined with fear:
What if they fail?
What if they can’t pull it off?
What if they don’t make it?
Yet, it’s at this pivotal juncture that a critical decision arises – to act or retreat.
When high-performing athletes opt to harness this energy as a source of fuel rather than succumb to it, a remarkable transformation unfolds. They enter a state of flow, channelling their adrenaline for heightened energy and unwavering focus. Fear metamorphoses into empowerment. Their bodies surge with feel-good neurotransmitters—serotonin, anandamide, and dopamine—and they stand at the pinnacle of their performance.
This cyclical process underscores a crucial insight: Even the most accomplished athletes encounter moments of anxiety and doubt. What distinguishes them is their mastery of navigating the entire flow cycle, which includes stages of struggle, rest, and recharge. It’s a reminder that the journey to greatness often involves confronting moments of fear and anxiety, which are integral to achieving unparalleled success.
Empowering High Achievers with a Champion’s Mindset
In my role working with high achievers, I’ve come to appreciate the transformative power of adopting an athlete’s mindset. This mindset entails recognising that anxiety can be a stepping stone to living a life marked by continual growth and peak performance. High achievers can learn to harness anxiety as a potent motivator, acknowledging its presence rather than trying to eliminate it.
Furthermore, I encourage my clients to empower themselves with an athlete’s mindset. I guide them in mastering the art of navigating life’s waves, helping them see beyond their fears and doubts. My goal is to equip them to face challenges head-on, fostering resilience and unlocking their full potential.
When a high achiever expresses a desire to eradicate anxiety, I challenge them to explore what this emotion offers them in return. We delve into the benefits anxiety brings to their experiences, thoughts, and beliefs. I ask them to consider what actions they’d be willing to take despite feeling anxious, empowering them to grow and excel.
Worry and anxiety need not be seen as obstacles for high achievers; they can be potent sources of motivation when harnessed correctly. It’s all about whether they choose to let these emotions cripple them or decide to harness their power. Much like elite athletes, high achievers can embrace the entire flow cycle, navigating life’s challenges and successes with grace and determination.
Could worry be a stepping stone to your own path of greatness, propelling you to achieve remarkable feats and continually reach for the stars? I sure do believe so.
Love, Madelaine 🌿