Why worry can be a great motivator
Clients often come to us wanting to remove their worry and anxious thoughts and it’s easy to see why. Anxiety is often blamed as the reason for people’s pain. But have you ever thought about the benefits of this discomfort?
We often dismiss feelings of worry thinking we need to remove them to be fulfilled and happy. But what if those uncomfortable feelings are actually supporting your growth? What if those feelings could be part of helping you move forward instead of causing you to procrastinate?
I used to work hard to remove negative emotions. I meditated, used bio feedback & had counselling to try and diminish those anxious thoughts. But then one day I had a realisation:
What if the worry isn’t the enemy?
What if thoughts of unease and discomfort actually serves me?
What if my moments of anxiety help me stay motivated, rise up and face difficulty in a way that actually supports me?
Science tells us that anxiety and excitement go hand in hand because it has the same expression in our bodies, the only difference is our perception of it. In other words, when we we perceive our bodily expression as anxiety, we feel discomfort, but when we perceive it as fun, we feel excited.
So with this in mind, instead of removing anxiety, wouldn’t it be more powerful to change our perception around it?
So how do we use our worry as motivation? Let’s look at it from the perspective of someone that is under moments of extreme pressure, the extreme athlete:
Imagine yourself a professional surfer about to surf a huge wave. Like any other extreme sport athlete, you have feelings of doubt before you attack that wave. You might even doubt yourself for a split second. Maybe you’ll wish you hadn’t decided to go in the water in the first place but where safe and sound on dry land. Your adrenaline will be pumping and you WILL feel the fear.
What if you die?
What if you won’t be able to do it?
What if you fail?
At this moment you will have to make a decision, do or die? Indecisiveness might equal death at this point in time. So you choose to go for it.
The minute the extreme athlete decides to go for it and use this energy as fuel instead of being being taken over by it everything changes. Flow takes over, adrenalin gets used for energy and focus instead of fear and they are ready to attack the task at hand. Their body is being flushed with feel-good chemicals like serotonin, anandamide and dopamine, they are on top of the world!
Do you see the cycle here?
The extreme athlete didn’t just feel wonderful the whole time. There where moments of fear, anxiety, worry and doubt, just like all of us! But the difference is, they KNOW how to move through ALL stages of flow, they are not just looking for flow. In the flow cycle there is a stage of struggle. There is also a stage of rest and recharge and without all the different stages they wouldn’t be able to experience and access moments of amazing flow.
What I take from this is two-fold:
>> Practise the mindset of an extreme athlete. Remember there are stages of anxiety if you want to live a life in flow. Learn to use the anxiety to your advantage. Honour it instead of wishing for it to go away.
>> Help your clients gain the mindset of an extreme athlete. Help them master how to ride the waves and see beyond the fear. Help them get to a point of power so they can attack the waves instead of getting crushed by them.
- When your client tells you they want to remove the anxiety, ask them what the thing they are wanting to remove actually GIVES them. What are the benefits to hold on to the feeling/ thought/ belief?
- When a client says they hate being anxious, get curious and ask them what they would be willing to do DESPITE feeling anxious.
Worry and anxiety can become our downfall or our greatest asset, it all depends on whether we decide to let it cripple us or whether we decide to harness it.
Love to hear your thoughts & insights,