Do you ever feel anxious? I do, quite often. But it’s turning into a lot of fun. I’ve realised my baseline anxiety is actually a reservoir, an asset for a really exciting life. I’m learning to transform anxiety into excitement, into desire to really live each moment. And you could too. How so?
Anxiety is repressed excitement
I remember reading a quote in an Osho book once and hearing repeatedly from my meditation teachers, that anxiety is repressed excitement. Repressed excitement I wondered? Surely not!? That’s not really what science says, is it?
Well, wise teachers tend to be wise… so I started to pay attention to the anxiety / excitement dialogue in my body and emotions.
Here’s an example: I would notice anxiety when I picked up the phone to call someone.
I would take a moment to look at why my heart was racing. Why did I feel scared? It could be about anything; a bank manager, asking a friend out for a coffee, answering a client call.
So I’d think about that assumption and look really closely, “was there excitement there, under the anxiety?” Ah!!! I realised I was “excited”…excited to connect with someone, excited for the stimulus, for the journey, for the unknown.
Excitement is natural life force that got shut down
When did I learn to shut down such excitement and call it anxiety, instead? I began to remember something from my childhood – at some point it just wasn’t cool to be eager, earnest, or excitable. Do you remember that? The cool kids were like unsmiling supermodels with growling upper lips or pouts.
So my dancing-prancing eager beaver, my king of the world, lover of life 8-year-old persona, eventually, by 20, turned into the James Dean anti hero, the Angelina Jolie goth, the punk-anarchist artist, the intellectual skeptic, and the rage against the machine pessimistic. Unfortunately, the side of effects of being so cool were that depression and anxiety also set in. As you probably know, this is rife among young people. Everyone is playing it cool. Earnestness has become an undervalued quality.
Because we shut down, we use substitutes
Somewhere along the way, then, we got scared of feeling life’s ups and downs. We got too cool for school, and we turned to substitutes like movies, porn, multiplayer video games, and an endless variety of stimulants (including addictions we might not acknowledge, like our mental concepts, political opinions, and acceptance of consumerism).
If we unleashed our real excitement, allowing what we call anxiety to transform, we wouldn’t need half these entertainments, consumer products, and stimulants to help us feel alive again.
Life is stimulating enough. Like a professional race car driver on a very, very cool and unpredictable ride.
Clarion call to anxiety feelers – get excited again
So, my clarion call to all you anxiety feelers!? Ride your anxiety like a wave. Move from Netflix to netball, couch potato to couch surfer (heard of global freeloaders?! Try it), never be quite sure where you’ll end up tonight, tomorrow, or next year.
Enjoy the ride and trust that the universe will open to a grand adventure if you just meet it, moment to moment. Do what it asks. Help, care, and be present.
The next time you’re about to text rather than call someone because it will be less anxiety provoking, don’t. Stop. Pick up that phone, and embrace the passionate moment of the exciting unknown, of your heart beating fast and your skin tingling. Hop onto your metaphorical Harley and let that wind rush through your heart as you discover another moment, and make real, alive, full of feeling, human connections.
By Cara Conroy Low. Edited by Andrew Rogers.
Don’t worry! This isn’t our only blog about anxiety. Click to read another one here.