You are here:  Home » Emotions » Anxiety or Excitement? It’s up to You

Category: Emotions

Post Tagged with ,

125 Responses so far.

  1. Peace&Love says:

    Commonly this is quite easier said than done and it may take some practice for one to be familiarized with what was said above.But excitement can be seen as an effective way of solving the issue of anxiety but i dont believe it is the best way. I have heard many times that the result of anxiety is due to a fear of something. I think that focusing on the reward of a situation can aid in distracting one from developing a sense of anxiety.For instance, when one is about to make a speech in front of a class and they develop some sort of anxiety its because they have a fear that they are going to mess up in front of everyone which when that happens causes the person to be embarrased.In this case one would want to focus on the reward of getting a good grade despite any circumstances that may prevent them to getting to that goal. In this situation self-esteem and confidence plays a huge factor because it determines how highly you think of yourself in regards to what others may think of you. It is important to realize that messing up during a speech is not the end of the world but it serves as in incentive to help you move forward.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Yep… Like I just replied to Gabrielle below, this may be much harder in some situations than in others. Also you are right that focussing on the reward of having a good. You can also imagine yourself standing up there doing great job and feeling great, the opposite of what usually happens. Focussing on the good things will also help you not to procrastinate. However, once you are able to see the talk in front of the class in a positive way it will be easier to enjoy the steps you take in order to get there. This in turn will also have a positive impact on your self esteem, which in turn leads to better performance. But again your right it is not that easy at first for everyone, partly becaue we learned to think about certain events in particular ways. We also have had particular experiences with particular events in the past.

  2. Gabrielle Lesage says:

    I think that it is interesting that both anxiety and excitement can feel the same but be two entirely different emotions.

    I find it fascinating that by telling oneself that you are excited for something instead of anxious about it that things will turn out better than if you let the anxiety take over you. But I imagine that this technique doesn’t work on everyone; personally, if I try that technique it doesn’t always work. Or maybe it is because if the anxiety is stronger than the excitement then the technique won’t work.

    It never ceases to amaze me how emotions are complex and can dictate how we feel.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Gabrielle
      Yes you are right. The more anxiety the more practice it may require to achieve this. It also takes some reinterpretation of the event itself. That is, seeing the good that is going to come out of it instead of just the bad things. This also takes practice. You gradually get better at doing this. Of course this gets harder with events that are perceived as really bad. For example, someone about to go to jail or something. But you would be surprised about the kinds of things people can reinterpret in a positive light.

      • Gabrielle Lesage says:

        Can it be that sometimes it is impossible to reinterpret the situation? In a previous comment I was exploring the possibility that maybe anxiety can be too strong, and it got me thinking about it more today. For example, if something is causing me anxiety I sometimes can’t look at it in any way positive. If that happens, is it simply because we will never really have the full control of our thoughts\emotions or is it simply because we are conditioned a certain way that doesn’t always allow us to see past the bad?

  3. MichaelSelinger24 says:

    Wow, this post has definitely changed my perspective on anxiety! I always believed that anxiety was a hardwired feeling that we couldn’t change as opposed to a perceived feeling that can be easily changed with a little effort. I didn’t think changing your feelings about an anticipated event was as simple as reinterpreting your physiological experiences as something positive!

    This will definitely be helpful as I get through my own personal bouts of anxiety (especially during midterms and finals haha).

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Michael
      Yes that is part of the problem…..being hardwired to respond a certain way. But the hardwiring is more in the physiology than in the interpretation of the event. That is the part we can control. But as I wrote in reply to Gabrielle, reapprasing events to see them as opportunities instead of threats may take some practice.

    • AAlvarado says:

      Even though I already had an idea about anxiety and excitement, now, I understand what they really are I have a better idea of how to deal with them. This is very interesting. Honestly,I had heard techniques similar to this one, but I never really tried it because I thought it wouldn’t work. I felt that if I told myself that everything would be fine or that I had to focus on the positive, it was like I was lying to myself, or not telling myself everything. I was scared I would somehow forget the negative and so, I wanted to be prepared for it. But now, I think I should try this technique more often. I guess it is worth to try.

  4. Gabrielle Lesage says:

    I do agree that it takes practice and determination to change the way we think about things (seeing things as exciting rather than filled with anxiety), but I wonder if for some people it might not necessarily be possible.

    What happens if someone has something like generalized anxiety disorder or any other anxiety disorder and they try to use the positive thinking technique that is being discussed in this article but it doesn’t work?

    Can it be possible that anxiety be stronger than the determination to change?

  5. Eliana Bucaro says:

    Interestingly enough I can relate to the subject very well, however I’ve never really thought about handling my anxiety that way. I am a competitive synchronized skater and I have been competing for most of my life and I always have the same dilemma when I am about to compete. My coaches always tell us to focus on our breathing and to always keep our minds occupied so we don’t have to think about how nervous we are. Its quite interesting how the blog mentions turning our anxiety into excitement, but what if it’s something that we are dreading like for example and exam or an speech in front of an audience would it have the same effect?

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Eliana…Absolutely. Your coach is right in saying that. The only thing I would add is that you should think about how great it will feel to be out there competing and that that is very exciting. It will be a great opportunity. If you have the choice on focusing on how something is threatening or what good will come out if it which would you choose?
      You do have that choice. The same hors for a public speaking event. Get good at thinking about the excitment or it and at the opportunity to grow as a person by facing your fear.

  6. cloey123 says:

    After reading this article, I am quite shocked that in all my life of having pretty bad anxiety and of course, feelings of excitement, I never actually thought about how both states of mind are so similar.

    I struggle with anxiety on a daily basis because I worry about all the things that people often do not pick up on. How people look at me, talk to me, judge me, etc. I over analyze these minute details that cause me to have butterflies in my stomach.

    I’m going to take this article as a piece of advice for when I am anxious about something. Most of the time when I have to perform to an audience I feel excited, but the anxiety overpowers all the goodness that might come out of it. Therefore, next time I will try to change my state of mind around. I found it quite interesting that reappraising the situation by telling yourself to “calm down” and “relax” is not the best way to cope with the anxiety. I really want to replace my anxiousness with excitement, and who knows, maybe the outcome will be better.

    • Sereena Pigeon says:

      I feel anxious pretty often too so I can definitely relate! Over analyzing is the worst and makes the anxiety so much stronger. I think we do it because we feel like everything in life is supposed to be 100% perfect. It’s kind of ironic because we get all nervous because we want to be at our best but the nerves end up impairing our performance and embarrassing us even more.

      But I appreciate you mentioning that you struggle with anxiety daily because I often feel like the only one. It’s a normal thing to experience but sometimes it doesn’t feel so normal.

      • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

        It is amazing how we can overanalyze how something bad is going to happen but not how something good can.

        • Red says:

          This is so true! Great point!
          I think society as a whole is just meant to reflect on the bad in life. I mean, we can take the news for instance. I feel as if most of things on there are negative. I’m not saying it’s the media’s fault. Im just saying we are guided by society to act a certain way.

          The point im trying to make is that from early on in life, we are taught the negative before the positive. A child’s first words are “no” not yes.

          We can’t really be blamed for thinking this way, but we can be blamed for not changing or making a valiant effort to change!

          • Melissa Synnott says:

            I totally agree with you, Red! I feel like we are being conditioned to fear certain things or see some situations in a negative perspective. I think a lot of time they do it on purpose to play with our insecurities especially in dealing with body images.

          • MichaelSelinger24 says:

            Red, I definitely see where you are coming from with the idea of media being a major factor in our lives that has caused us to think negatively. I’ve often had this conversation with many people, a simple question like “why is the news always reporting the negative aspects of the day?” is usually what begins it and my answer has always been the same: we just gravitate towards it because if things were good, life would be boring. I mean i’m not saying that life is bad without these negative aspects, but if we tune in to, say, a report on how a cat was saved from a tree, people wouldn’t see the excitement or the drama in it. Television and specifically the news has become so poisoned by our constant need for stimulation and excitement (otherwise we’ll simply turn to the next channel) that this is all they can show to keep people interested. At least that’s what I believe.

  7. Vanessa Caucci says:

    Anxiety or excitement?
    I believe that it truly depends on what kind of person you are, are you “the glass is half full” or “half empty”? If you’re an optimistic person, who studies, and has a good feeling about the test or the event… you generally will do better.
    If you go in with a poor attitude, it will decrease your will to do well. The first thing my teachers taught us in high school was to always be in your best mood when you have a test or sporting event. If you believe you will do well, you will be more likely to do so.
    I believe that rather than creating our own anxiety, which will lead to our downfall, we might as well slap on a smile, and believe you’ll get a good outcome!

    • Dumbo13 says:

      I agree with your point on optimism, however, I do not think that some people “create their anxiety”. For some, anxiety is a disorder that cannot be cured by being told to think positive or to worry less, the same way that a depressed person cannot be cured by being told to cheer up and think happy thoughts.
      However, I completely agree with you for the fact that by being positive, you have greater chances of succeeding. Sadly it is easier said than done for most.

      • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

        Yes your right….
        The article is not about curing something like an anxiety disorder. This must be clear. It is much more about everyday anxieties, for example in your student life. An anxiety disorder is different. It means that your anxiety is so bad that it interferes with your roles in life and puts you in significant distress.Yes lets not confuse anxiety with anxiety disorder.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      As is said in a theory called appreciative inquiry: we make it all up may as well make up a positive story.

    • KatherineRosenfeld says:

      I completely agree Vanessa! I believe that any situation can be made positive…even if it’s the most boring class, assignment or event in the world! You can take away something from any experience in your life. By looking at the glass half full in the most uncomfortable or uninspiring situations, you can conquer anything. I can personally relate to this. I am involved in many youth groups and volunteer and work frequently my community with young teenagers. Living in a world of competitivess and expectations of success, it is hard to focus and inspire teens to fulfill their potential when they have a pessimistic or anxious outlook on life and their future. This I find is a significant problem in our generation. By refocusing this negative perspective, perhaps teenagers will find the challenge of pursuing their dreams as exciting and empowering!

  8. Dumbo13 says:

    We are used to being told that in order to deal with stress, we have to practice relaxation techniques. Having tried many of those myself, I know they are often not effective. I find it interesting that this article explains that to reduce anxiety, it is not a question of being less agitated emotionally, but rather to shift the point of focus of that agitation into positive. I personally do not think it can always work. Sometimes fear is greater than the will to overcome what we are afraid of.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience with this Jessica.

    • M.A.B. says:

      I totally agree with you. It is often easier to fear something and not try to overcome it because it takes a lot of effort to do so. I personally refrain myself from doing certain things because I am so anxious and because I am afraid of what might happen.

  9. Dumbo13 says:

    If the future event is very stressful, it will be challenging to find some positive in order to be excited about it. When a person knows that what causes them anxiety will affect them negatively later on, the person will not be able to find ways to feel a positive physiological arousal about it, since no good will come out of it.
    On the other hand, if one dreads an event, then the only thought of that event being over and done with is enough for someone to feel excited (for example, the end of term exams). But if the person knows that the future event will cause distress in the long term, then there is very little chance that the person will find the strength to be excited about it.
    I will definitely try this technique the next time I feel anxiety. However, I still think that there is no “magic trick” that works in every case scenario. Some people would still feel stressed even if they had all the tools in the world to deal with it.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      That is right there is no magic trick as I stated in another reply. But there is the search for coping mechanisms. This is one of them.

  10. Sereena Pigeon says:

    This sounds like such a good idea! I wish I knew about this when I used to be on my high school’s volleyball team because I was always insanely nervous and because of it I messed up more than I’d like to admit. I should have focused on how much fun the game was and how exciting it is to be part of a tournament but that never occurred to me at the time. I always tried to remain calm because that’s what seemed to be the smart thing to do… but I never thought of turning my nerves into excitement.

  11. Sereena Pigeon says:

    It’s really interesting to know that we have so much power over the way we feel. Throughout my life I always thought I didn’t have very much control over my emotions, just on how I seem to be feeling. So whenever I was sad, for example, I thought I’d have to just hide it and deal with it until it somehow went away. So after reading this article, and finding out that we can actually influence whether we feel anxious or excited about something, I’m wondering whether it can work with other emotions like sadness, anger, or fear. I guess it would depend on the physiological arousal caused by each of them but I think it would be interesting to look into it.

    In any case, the possibility of changing anxiety into excitement is huge in itself because anxiety can often lead to sadness on its own or can even impair your performance to the point that you feel angry that you weren’t doing your best. So just being able to get rid of that annoying anxious feeling potentially transforms the other negative feelings you would’ve gotten because of it into happiness and relief after succeeding in such a stressful or important situation.

  12. RPS says:

    I have struggled with feeling anxious since I was a little girl. When I was younger I worried a lot about hypothetical situations: “What if…”. The way that my mother would calm me down was to tell me to focus on something that I was looking forward to instead. For some strange reason I didn’t internalise this technique for myself. After reading this post not only do I officially know that mothers really do “always know best” but that I can adopt this technique myself. The trigger signs for my anxiety have very clear physical symptoms. Next time I pick up on one of those physical queues I will try and focus my mindset on a possible positive outcome of the situation that is causing my stomach to tighten and my palms to sweat. It is incredible how the participants of the study felt significantly less nervous after simply reading the words “I’m excited”. If the effect of reading those words had a positive impact I’m sure that actually trying to find a reason to be excited will in fact improve my nervousness. Thank you for this enlightening post.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Great! However, in the study it was not always as stressful as real life situations. So it may take more than just reading a statement.

  13. Javier Gutierrez says:

    I am quite surprised that anxiety and excietement have the same physical arousal but they are two completely different state of mind, at the same time , from past expériences, i can tell that my body have felt the same way during times where i’ve been anxious or excited. I think in certain cases being anxious or excited for an event might depend of your personality too, because let’s say you have a speech to do in front of a big class and you’re an introvert person, I think you will automatically feel anxious even thought you think positively.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Javier
      Yes that is true. That is the problem (automatically). We need to become less automatic about it.

    • KatherineRosenfeld says:

      I agree to some extent. I was also surprised how anxiety and excitement have the same physical arousal…but it does make sense to me now that I think about it.
      I feel that people don’t push themselves enough in general. When someone thinks they are shy, they will continue to think they are shy. I also believe that we are influenced by how others perceive us…so for example people tell me that I am outgoing, I will act outgoing because that is how I am expected or believed to be like. So if a “shy” person starts changing their attitude on how they perceive themselves, perhaps they will discover things about themselves that they never realized they had in them. That shy person can become outgoing…if they believe it. We don’t realize how exceptional we are as human beings and how much we are limiting ourselves to believe we are. I may be going a bit off topic but I truly feel that we can shift our outlook about anything! So I really do agree with this article about turning anxiety into excitement. Human beings are cool creatures that can do cool things.

  14. Corey Newman says:

    I find this extremely fascinating and more so that i have witnessed this with myself but have not given it much thought. During my elementary and high school, even Cegep years i have always been so nervous in front of classes for public speaking and presentations. I turn red, start to sweat and even mispronounce and mumble my words. The worst is i feel like i performed so badly. Just like you have stated, these are also symptoms of excitement. The interesting thing is when i speak in front of 10 times the people about a subject that i like, not regarding school, but in extra curricular activities that i am part of, the physiological response is the exact same, except i feel good and proud at the end.. i have never connected the two, and hopefully now i will link excitement and anxiety together so i can practice and train myself to be better at public speaking that makes me anxious.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Cloey
      Yes sometimes it can be much harder. It is not a miracle pill. Sometimes the anxiety is in fact overwhelming. This is just one way of dealing with it. What is for sure is that telling yourself to calm down does nothing to cope.Telling yourself to calm down just keeps the focus on the anxiety producing thought.

  15. CaterinaStamoulos says:

    I get anxiety from time to time so i can definitely relate to this. I completely agree with the research spoken about above in the article post. I feel like telling yourself to feel less anxious or trying to alter the negative feelings you are having will make you focus more on the negative anxious feelings you are having even more than initially. If someone tells you to not turn around because there is a pink elephant standing behind you, you are definitely going to want to turn around and see it because you cannot stop thinking about it. The more you put an idea in your head, the harder it is to stop thinking about it, and the harder it is to have it not affect you, that is if it is a negative feeling. The more you just accept the fact that you are anxious in that moment, you will become familiar with that feeling and learn to accept it and eventually you will calm down with having accepting that feeling and altering it into a positive excitement rather than a negative one. Transforming those negative anxious feelings into positive ones by accepting the fact that you are in fact anxious is a huge thing because rather than feeling down and sad (all the negative emotions) you will turn that anxiety into positive emotions like happiness and excitement.

  16. Peace&Love says:

    Its quite fascinating to look at the various comments and points of views on the topic of anxiety because it enlightens my present knowledge and helps me to build on different ways in which I can pjossibly handle my own anxiety.

  17. melissa k.-b says:

    I have never thought of it that way. I usually focus on the personal growth that an anxious situation provides after it happened rather than while preparing for it. From the moment I started reading this I realized how easily I turn every arousing feelings into anxiety even in positive situations. I will definetely try to turn them into excitement!

    • Jessica Mills says:

      I’m the same! I turn them into anxiety ridden activities because I overanalyze the situation! Even positive ones like you said. Turning them into excitement would be a lot more fun and also generate less stress over passed activities.

  18. melissa k.-b says:

    I also have a tendency to try to calm myself down, but I didn’t know it could be actually counterproductive. I dont know about others but I have a tendency to fear experiencing heightened emotions (becausr im very proned to anxiety) but maybe its time I encourage myself to feel them positively rather than try to flatten my state of emotions (and then outburst when I’ve suppressed too much)!

    • cloey123 says:

      I didn’t know it could be counterproductive either! However, now that I think of the times i’ve told myself to “calm down,” i’ve noticed they have not really helped me. I am prone to anxiety too. It’s a hard thing to deal with but try and let yourself experience all the heightened emotions as you can. The good (heightened) emotions, in my opinion, supersede the negative (heightened) emotions. Don’t stop yourself from experiencing the good because you do not want to feel the bad!

  19. melissa k.-b says:

    Right away I thought of the people I could share this to, especially friends who are around my age. With the mixture of school, pressure to perform and excell, personal problems, etc. I feel like when we are teenagers/young adults we often feel helpless and without control of WHAT brings anxiety, but knowing that we can turn that anxiety into excitement, will make quite the difference. However it might be hard to convince them…

  20. CThompson says:

    I have been playing basketball for the past 12 years and I have often used the anxiety I have felt before games as a motivator, why is that? I know a lot of basketball players or athletes that do the same. When they aren’t nervous before a game they wonder why that is and often believe they won’t deliver due to their lack of anxiety.
    Could it be due to the fight or flight physiological arousal causing your body to react quicker to the stimuli in the game around you?
    If so, is some anxiety in certain situations a good thing?

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Ahhhh yes.
      Now when it come to performance you have to have an optimal amount of physiological arousal. That is what athletes call being in the zone. But notice that when you are in the zone you do not appraise the arousal as threatening. Just this feeling that everything flows just right.

      • CThompson says:

        yes well..being in “the zone” was sometimes very bad, to the point where I couldn’t even eat the day before my games. As I got older i learnt to deal with the anxiety and used it more as excitment.

        • LingLi says:

          One of my friend had the same feelings before tournaments, he felt anxious and never ate before the games and was benched because he gets tired and dehydrated. It was quite unfortunate because he was a really good player, and every tournament he miss the first few games or play the finals.

    • LingLi says:

      I used to play basketball in my high school and I never tried to use anxiety to my advantage. My coach prepared us every game to properly assess situations and adjust. I faced many players who were much more athletic than I, but my assessment of their strengths and weaknesses helped me to adjust during the game without much anxiety.

      • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

        Ling
        It is not about using anxiety as an advantage but about interpreting your physiological arousal as excitement instead of anxiety….

  21. […] With the physiological arousal being the same for both states of mind, whether you feel anxiety or excitement about a future event is often up to you. Much of it is in the way that you appraise your physiological arousal.  […]

  22. Homi says:

    It is fascinating to know how two complete different emotion can have the same physical arousal. What is even more interesting is to see how the mind can play a big part in interpreting the emotion. I am not sure if this method of interpretation can be linked to the law of attraction. If you think positive, you attract possitive, and vice versa. the mind is so powerful when used in a proper and healthy way.

  23. Rachel Mayer says:

    Throughout my teenage life, I’ve had been put in situations where I would have to talk in front of a whole class and since my first oral presentation, I realized that this is my biggest fear. I start sweating, I forget what I have to say and become really red. I even dropped my humanities class this semester because he said that there would be an oral presentation that I would have to do in front of the whole class. Anxiety is what I really struggled the most. This post really fascinated me because its crazy how a few positive words like “ I am excited” can change the anxiety levels you have. Now I know that if I will ever have to talk in front of a class, I will link excitement and anxiety together which can lead to me being good or just less stressed at public speaking.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Think also how speaking is also a great way to share with, and help others. It is like giving part or yourself.

      • JJ says:

        I agree that It is always better to look at the positive side of things. However, it is much easier said than done. When I am anxious, I try to think about the positive aspects but I subconsciously end up thinking about the negative ones.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Yes that it something to be excited about. Exactly!

    • CThompson says:

      When ever I had an oral presentation to give that I felt nervous about, I would tell myself that I was going to do awesome and I would aim for a certain grade. Doing so really made me work hard in the preparations of the progect and I was proud to stand infront of the class and deliver a solid presentation.

  24. MichaelSelinger24 says:

    I can totally relate Cloey. I’ve been having pretty bad anxiety since I was 12. Sometimes it’s been light and it only causes minor stomach aches and other times the consequences can be severe and cause insomnia. This happens sometimes when I perform in front of audiences as well. I often find myself overanalyzing similarly to the way you do, thinking about whether or not people are judging me or talking about me. I’ve learned that not only do we have control of our anxiety, we can quickly wipe it away all together by means of understanding what causes our anxiety and turning into a positive notion, similarly to how we can turn anxiety into excitement. Hang in there and remember that having a small support group is a great way to relieve anxiety!

  25. Jessica Mills says:

    I find this interesting and I have personally used this technique many times. As a ballerina who goes on stage with the knowledge that by dancing on my toes for three minutes straight, there is always a chance I will fall flat on my face or break an ankle (I’ve seen it happen). One has to learn to be excited. However, it is not a permanent fix. You can tell yourself that you are excited all you want, but no matter what, right before you go to the daunting task, you tend to feel that last shred of anxiety. The “excitement” one feels, or tells themselves to feel, I have found is only a copping mechanism. It helps you deal with the knowledge of what you need to do before hand, but when the event is right there in front of you, one cannot truly deny their true emotions regarding the event. This is all based on experience though, so it may not apply to everyone seeing as everyone is different.

  26. Eliana Bucaro says:

    Over analyzing is my middle name, I think of every possible situation to happen and in some situations I can’t seem to think of any positive outcome. However I often think too much and have a fear of rejection and often that fear consumes me. Like for example if I have a tendency to speak extremely fast and when I have to do a presentation half of the people don’t understand because I talk at a hyper speed when I’m nervous. How can I deal with that? How can I maintain myself while I’m doing something nerve wrecking or anxiety producing?

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Eliana
      Sometimes we are to concerned about our self image….how we look to others. That produces anxiety. Try to focus on what you have to offer to other people. By the way that is another possible good outcome…giving.

    • Melissa Synnott says:

      I can relate to your situation, even if I knew my subject well when I was presenting, sometimes it was as if I wasn’t sure anymore of what I had to do because I let my fear of being judged take over my capacities. However, now I have gotten better just by progressively start looking directly at people when speaking, stop fidgeting nervously and embrace the fact I am here to teach something to people. Also, I feel like if you just fake confidence at first, then you can feel more confident afterward and this can be helpful.

  27. KatherineRosenfeld says:

    Well of course for some it’s a lot harder…and especially if you have an anxiety disorder (which I don’t believe the article is referring to)…But excluding those with severe disorders, everyone has the ability to be motivated to progress positively…but it’s up to you to try. I mentioned in other replies that everyone has the capability to change their mindset..it’s all about self-discovery and self-realization. We just have the be determined to try new things, adapt to changes and step out of our comfort zones!

  28. Rachel Mayer says:

    When I first read this article, I was so surprised to see that anxiety and excitement have a physical connection. I had to read it another three times to make sure I got it right. After my third time reading it, I realized that yes! It does make a lot of sense. With experience, I realized that the more you tell yourself to relax and to feel less anxious before an upcoming event, you will perhaps feel ten times more anxious just because your focusing so much on the negative anxious feeling. Catherina said a really good point: “The more you think about something, the more you cannot stop thinking about it”. I completely agree with her and that is why you should just accept the idea that you’re anxious and you’ll get used to it. It will immediately alter into the person being excited. So if you throw away all those negative feelings you’ve been feeling for so long and then replace them by some positive ones you are more likely going to change all the negative emotions into excitement.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Yes! We need to understand that the way we think about a situation is not always even because of our own thoughts but due the thoughts of others that we integrated.

  29. Rachel Mayer says:

    I think it all depends on what kind of person you are. If you’re the kind of person that will make the best out of everything, then you are most likely going to succeed compared to the pessimistic individuals. When I was younger, I would always cry before taking a test even though I studied like crazy. I knew I was ready, and I knew my material, so why did I feel this way? My mother always told me that I should always go in with a positive attitude even if your dying inside, and yes she was right. The next time I had a test, I was telling myself: you studied so hard lets be excited to show my teacher that I’m amazing; I want to prove my parents and brothers that I’m smart. So there you go, I was ready to cry but then I was so focused on the excitement I had to prove to my family I was capable, I ended up forgetting about the anxiety.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      You got it! Sometimes you have to dig to find the excitment.

      • Red says:

        I always assumed that feeling anxious about something was normal. Also, I never perceived it as something in my control,.. or saw it as a bad thing.
        Being anxious about something is not all bad, it does keep you on edge.. but I agree i’d much rather be excited about a task then anxious and i can see how individuals would perform better when excited over anxious.

  30. Caroline Martin says:

    I don’t think this would work for me! I will never be excited in a positive way about being forced to give a presentation! What I do to help myself relax is just making sure I know my stuff. The most nerve wracking part of presenting is being scared you’ll mess up. By making sure I know what I’m saying, I illuminate that fear and thus have nothing to be worried about! So my way of relaxing is to simply remind myself that I know my stuff!

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Yes ! The way there is often scarier than being there.

    • JJ says:

      I feel the same way as Caroline. I do the same thing when it comes to presentations. If I am well prepared, the presentation will go by more smoothly. This is good advice to follow and I will make sure to do so when it comes to my next presentation! Hopefully I will reduce some of the fear and anxiety that usually acompanies me throughout a presentation.

  31. Caroline Martin says:

    I don’t understand how telling yourself you’re excited would help in a situation like this… I mean, I KNOW I’m not excited and telling myself I am would be lying, and I would know I was lying to myself. I guess it depends on what the situation is. For example, if it were being anxious about going on a roller coaster or taking the plane to an exotic location. I could see how this method would work, it is something that wouldn’t be odd to be excited about. Versus a school project? I don’t know many people who get excited over school projects.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Find something in the school project that you can get excited about. What will you gain from it? This could be anything it is up to you and sometimes requires imagination. You would be surprised what people grab on to even in what you would think is the most meaningless of tasks. For a school project there are a million things you can connect to. Don’t be afraid to stretch it.

  32. Caroline Martin says:

    I promise to try this out next time I become scared or anxious about something and see if it works for me. It might, I believe all kinds of crazy things to calm myself down. Maybe naivety has something to do with this.

  33. Eliana Bucaro says:

    I think its so amazing how so many different people can have all a similar reaction so the same thing. I completely agree with Katherine, as hard as it might be to step out of our comfort zone and to take control of our own emotions and not to be influenced by external factors. To control anxiety I strongly believe that a person needs to be constantly aware of their surroundings and eventually with time that they will realize the nature of their anxiety isn’t really that big of a deal. Thats how I see it!

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      True Eliana
      Often the anxiety you feel before something is much worse than what you feel during the task.

  34. Melissa Synnott says:

    I was first surprised to read that anxiety and excitement have similar effects on our body, but now I realize that it actually makes sense and I find that fascinating. I think this post is an excellent example of how perspective has a big influence on different situations we encounter in our everyday lives. However, I don’t believe it is so easy to switch how you feel about a situation, because the first reflex we have is to think the worse of things. For example, let’s say the first time I take a plane it is a catastrophic experience and I end up fearing for my life, then I would find it extremely hard to feel excited regarding the following flight because my previous experience was not good and I have associated fear to airplane. In the end, I agree that we have a role in choosing excitement over anxiety, but they are other obstacles we need to overcome first.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Yes it has to do with dealing with some deeply ingrained limiting beliefs sometimes.

  35. Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

    Yes preparing clears some of worries and permits to be more positive about it.

  36. Peace&Love says:

    I totally agree with Katherine! Getting rid of anxiety starts with the individual and how they are able to understand the situation in a much clearer persepective. “Change is inevitable”.

  37. LingLi says:

    It is quite true that physiological arousal can be associated with anxiety and excitement, it is a matter of perspective. People construct their reality based on what they perceive through their lenses and it is their mindset that guides the consequential decision of either anxiety or excitement. However, I personally believe the proper way to face the ambiguity of the future is to remember who we are. Memory can be a forgotten factor during many ambiguous situations like public speaking. For example if a person feels anxious when presented on stage, he has forgotten why is he on stage and focus on the ambiguity of the consequences. If he remembers why he is onstage, he will be unchained from the uncertainty and focus on his tasks. This consequently leads to be disinterested of the situation and greatly improves the interests of such tasks instead of focusing on possible outcomes. A person won’t have a negative mindset if one enjoys the work one does, so to be disinterested, I believe, is a better way to face anxiety and outweighs excitement.

  38. sharon says:

    You are absolutely correct. I have found that there are a few steps that I have to take before it becomes excitement. I have to understand where I have learned the negative interpretations and then I have to restructure my thoughts which will change a negative to a positive.

  39. Tristin Tynes says:

    Until this post i never realized how similar being anxious and excited are. This particular knowledge could help with coaching someone to get over there stage fright. i noticed in the study the subjects read the sentence to themselves but wouldn’t reading a piece of paper with an appraisal be different from a person that is simply telling themselves the appraisal. I would think that reading it would have a much more diminished effect.

  40. Tristin Tynes says:

    I agree, but i also think that changing anxious into excitement in conjunction with other methods such as breathing deeply and realizing that “no one is going to judge you” can also help against being anxious.

  41. Tristin Tynes says:

    When i get anxious, i tend to get sweaty, which usually causes a cycle of being sweaty and anxious. I understand how an appraisal could work for someone who is about to go on stage or talk in front of class but how effective would it be for someone that is for example sitting on a hot bus and starts getting anxious.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      If you are talking about panic attack that is a good point. But check this out. People get panic attacks when they interpret bodily arousal as something horrible happening.

  42. Mark Rodgers says:

    Great discussion already, I hope this hasn’t be mentioned already, recent research in sport helps to confirm what Stephane is saying is absolutely correct. If you focus on something “external” rather than internal i.e. don’t focus on “feelings /nerves” then you’ll perform better.

    So tennis players, if nervous, should focus on the flight of the ball rather than “make sure your feet are leaving the ground at right time”. Its so important to direct our attention outwards when under pressure.

    The reason is the brain can handle the routines, but focusing on the anxious thoughts and “what should I do next” just clogs up our thinking, distracts us more, and we end up doing worse.

    So the recent research in sport is to coach the athlete to focus on something external. Success is external, winning, smiles from an audience, these thoughts all distract us and just lets us get on with being great!

    Please check out “Constraint Action Hypothesis Sport”, it might be helpful for those sceptics – the theory is perfect, better to focus on being excited and all the good things that come with that, than focusing on being anxious..

    Hope this helps.

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      Thanks for the great example Mark and for mentionining the constraint action hypothesis.

  43. Caterina Stamoulos says:

    to comment on what melissa synnott said, i completely agree with you. It is extremely hard for us as individuals to just overcome those negative anxious feelings and turn them into excitement and positive feelings depending on the situation. In some cases it is very true that we would have to overcome many obstacles before turning those negative feelings into positive ones. However in other scenarios like giving a speech, the negative anxious feelings aren’t as severe as the ones in your plane example, therefore would be much more easier to overcome and to convince yourself that giving a speech would benefit you (so in this case you wouldn’t have to really overcome any obstacles besides just convincing yourself its going to be okay and that by changing your negative emotions into excitement would make you feel like by giving this speech will make you feel good about yourself that you were able to do it without feeling so anxious and nervous.
    I guess in the end it honestly depends on our situation in which you are facing these anxious feelings, and depending on how big the obstacle is you have to know when it is the time to overcome it.

  44. Caterina Stamoulos says:

    Also,In my past experiences where i have tried calming myself down in a anxious situation where my head is filled with negative thoughts, i have found that it takes me a while to figure out where my certain negative thoughts are coming from and find ways in which i can convince myself to think otherwise, and there are definitely steps that comes along with time that gradually will lead to excitement, well that is most of the time. Its hard to understand where your negative thoughts originate from, but when you find them you just have to reconstruct thoughts thoughts into something better and positive, into something that will benefit yourself from that reconstructed negativity.

    • Vanessa Caucci says:

      I completely agree. I liked the way you wrote that you had to “reconstruct into positive thinking” i couldn’t agree more. Anxiety is a tricky situation, where it’s hard to assess what to do. While you are having these feelings it’s hard to try to motivate yourself. I strongly agree with your points, great work!

  45. M.A.B. says:

    I am a little bit skeptical because I find it extremely difficult for myself to be able to turn my anxiety into excitement by only thinking of the positives outcomes that may result from a situation. I don’t think it’s an impossible thing to do but I do believe it is something very hard to achieve.

  46. amber jonas says:

    It is hard for me to really grasp the concept of turning anxiety into excitement simply because I suffer from a panic disorder (one form of an anxiety disorder) and I know how difficult it is to talk yourself out of sheer, blown panic. However, this article is very interesting especially if I relate it to my life’s experiences. When I feel the anxiety/panic coming on, I try my very best to think positive and to basically tell myself that I won’t have a panic attack, and that everything is going to be fine. Rather than flight, I fight what’s bound to happen. However, simply saying that one must turn anxiety into excitement is a little bit unrealistic in my opinion, simply because I do believe that you can trick your mind to an extent: telling yourself you’re excited rather than anxious, however, in the end, good or bad, the truth always comes out. If you’re anxious, you’re anxious and if you’re excited, you’re excited, all we can actually do is control to what degree we let our excitement and/or anxiety get to.

  47. amber jonas says:

    Re-reading the article again, I do realize that we are referring to a common person’s feeling of “anxiety”, which generally consists of: “I’m so nervous to present this paper in front of the class.” When it comes to that, I understand how one should try their best to change their thought pattern and turn anxiousness/nervousness into excitement/confidence. However, this being said, it is MUCH easier said than done. One can only really turn their anxiousness into excitement if first and foremost, they know their material extremely well. If you know what you’re going to say, that’s one less thing to worry about. I think there are very crucial steps that are needed in turning anxiousness into excitement, because none of these mind tricks happen over night. Our mind is the be all and end all of all of us, it can be our greatest friend, or our worst enemy; it’s up to us to make it the way we see best fit.

  48. amber jonas says:

    I also would like to add that I don’t necessarily think that anxiety is always a bad thing. I believe one can use anxiety to their advantage in the sense that it is something that tells us: “hold on, stop, something isn’t right. Time to sit down, think and re-evaluate this situation/the way your life is.” I think we all relate anxiety to negativity because we think about the nervousness, and uncomfortable bodily sensations that come with it, but the truth of the matter is that its purpose is beneficial for us in the long run. I honestly believe that anxiety can be a very helpful mentor at times.

  49. Peace&Love says:

    I have an oral next week and I’m definitely going to put this to the test. I’m going to try to be excited about it to see how effective this theory would affect my overall performance due to always having feelings of anxiety.If it works I’ll let you guys know! If it doesn’t then there’s always next time.

  50. GCriniti says:

    Before reading this post I never would have thought about taking a negative emotion as anxiety and turning it into a positive one as excitement, next time I have an exam or an important speech to give i’ll look forward to it rather than fear it…

    • Stephane Gaskin PhD says:

      That’s it!!!

    • JLupo says:

      I understand the concept of changing your emotion from anxious to excited but I personally think it is a lot easier said than done. Ahead of an oral for example, even if you are confident in yourself only certain people are able to be excited rather than anxious. I am not completely putting down the idea, but I believe emotions are something that are hard to play with because they are natural and everyone feels and handles them differently.

  51. GCriniti says:

    I agree with Red,
    The media is always trying to put fear into society, but really what is there to fear…turning something negative into positive can also help with having a better outlook on life

    • JLupo says:

      I completely agree with this, in any situation in life it is better to have a positive outlook rather than a negative one. However, I also think that the people who are able to change the negative perspectives to positives ones are people high in confidence.

  52. polina.s says:

    It’s been 10 years that I dance and take dance lessons, not on a competitional level but every year we have two big dance shows which I always look forward too. I totally know that feeling of excitement that you have right before going stage in the spotlights, with your sweaty palms, your heart racing, huge smile on your face and say to yourself ”I just can’t wait to show my friends and parents what I have been learning in my classes”. It is a positive stress that I have and it feels amazing having so much adrenaline. The anxiety feeling I also know it very well especially before an oral presentations, and it bothers me alot… I hate that feeling and by reading this blog I understand that it is a normal reaction and I find it interesting that you could control that anxiety by turning it into a postive excitement! I don’t know if I am the only one but just before an oral presentation I am so stressed out, and when the teacher tells you that it’s your turn and you panic even more.. But as soon as you start talking poof that anxiety goes away , because I know I was prepared and I know what I am saying and I know my topic, you just totally stress for nothing! It’s so annnnnnoying. Anyways next time I’ll try to prepare myself mentally as well with positive thinking!

  53. polina.s says:

    Please do! What I was doing before an oral presentation I would take deep breaths and try to calm myself down but unfortunately it did not work.. So next time I will also try to look forward for my oral presentations because this semester I have so many… Oh well guess I have to start thinking about them and encouraging myself that it’s going to be okay and truely awesome, haha! Good luck with yours!

  54. Vanessa Caucci says:

    Next time, I get anxious i’d like to try this method, from switching it into a positive mood, by turning anxiety into excitement. However i believe this would be super hard to do because in the midst of it, it is hard to do so. However seeing the stats motivates me to try this new method.

  55. Homi says:

    I used to be really anxious about oral presentation in high school. I learned that being well prepared also helps fight anxiety. recording yourslef, speaking out loud, practicing infront of a mirror also helps a lot. I am no more anxious about oral presentations. In fact, it is one of the things I like doing the most in my classes nowadays.

  56. JJ says:

    I find this article extremely interesting because I can relate to it. When I am to perform any sort of public speaking, I often build up a lot of anxiety and stress and therefore perform to less than my abilities. According to this article, anxiety and excitement can be completely under the control of the person experiencing the specific state of mind. However, I believe that this statement is easier said than done. I don’t think that its possible for one to just say they are excited and automatically become excited. I believe one actually has to build up their excitement. From experience, I know that when i’m going to do a public speech, I often tell myself to calm down and in turn I actually accumulate more nerves. I believe that you have to actually build up excitement. For instance, i’ve done both public speaking where i have been prepared and unprepared. For the speeches where I was unprepared, I projected my nerves throughout the presentations. Whereas, for the presentations where I was prepared I articulated my thoughts and views much better and was not as nervous.

  57. JLupo says:

    I guess there are also certain situations that I would personally be able to change my emotion from anxious to excitement because i have done it before but with very little knowledge that I was actually doing it. Playing sports, whenever there is a game coming up against a good team it is only normal for the team to be anxious but the coaching staff helps to motivate the players to be excited. If the team showed up excited we played a lot better than when we showed up anxious. Now that I am older, I don’t need my coach to motivate me but rather it is just in my nature to be excited before a game because I know thinking about the negatives will get me no success.

  58. I must say that after reading this article i have changed my mindset and how i will deal with anxiety or excitement, never really looked at it in this way.
    I usually deal with a lot of anxiety when it comes to school and just life in general. I stress out a lot about school and what i’m going to be doing in the future. I always want everything to be perfect and that’s one of the reasons why i believe I’m always stressed or getting anxiety.
    This article will really help me for the next time i get nervous about something and will help me to calm down and think about my emotions before getting all stressed out !

  59. I strongly agree with GCriniti because before reading this blog i would have never thought about taking negative emotions that have to do with anxiety and trying to turn it into a positive one as excitement! I always thought my anxiety’s would just keep on getting worse once i get older because of the more and more responsibilities that were going to have ! but now i will definitely re think my emotions and situations and try to make the best of it !

  60. Javier Gutierrez says:

    There is another perspective which i really think that is important, we have to consider the fact that not everyone has the same type of life, not everyone has the same support from their peers. What I;m trying to say is that peer pressure is also something that has to play with anxiety and excitement, some of us in high-school were most of the time bullied by certian persons which i think must increase the amount of anxiety, because it plays with the self-estime of the victim, the perosn will be likeable to over think how people perceive its personnality and it might create stress not because that was anxious naturally but because of such expériences. Now if we talk about a popular guy who’s usually the one people appreciate, that person will be much more likeable to be excited in a circumstance where he must present himself in front of a crowd, because he expects to be applauded since he knows from past expériences that he has a good charisma.

  61. I think that what polina.s is doing is very smart and made her overcome her anxiety by looking forward to her oral presentations. I had the same problem with my class presentations and would never want to do them in front of the class but i had one this week and thought back to this blog and instead of freaking out over it i tried to look at the better side of it and kept calm and said to myself its only 5 minutes long and i ended up doing very well !

  62. polina.s says:

    I wanted to add that today in our integrative seminar class we went to this talk for the Social Science week and it was “Creating a Positive Reality – It’s More in Your Control Than You Realize” which I found very interesting and it makes you realize things that people could just change their perspective of view or their perspective in life in general to see other incredible possibilities and not only the ones that seem unpleasing to you. The advice she gave us was to always find or write down positive things about something that you don’t like to do (for instance a chore or an activity or an ORAL) and it could just brighten your day and your mood without dealing with the negativity and the anxiety. I really liked it and I will try her advice!

  63. Javier Gutierrez says:

    I’m not an anxious person normally, the only thing i get anxious about is when i have an oral to do 5 minutes before i always start stretching for some reason, I think it is becaus eof the anxiety, and the fact that i feel uncomfortable with this physical arousal makes it even worse, when I’m in front of the class the anxiety goes away, it only starts 5 or 10 minutes before i have to do the oral, and can’t stay in place, maybe if I turn it into excitement I’ll stop feeling so uncomfrotable, I think i would still be stretching out and keep moving around but at least if I know that i’m excited I think it would make me feel better.

  64. M.A.B. says:

    Speaking in public is something I really hate to do. I get really anxious and when I tell myself to calm down it only makes me more anxious so I found it interesting to see that studies showed that it is a totally normal reaction. I will now try to use other ways to calm myself!