A lot have been said globally about turning your fear to excitement. Some of which I think are unrealistic and others I believe to be true based on my personal experiences.
Therefore, I want to add value to this topic drawing from my childhood experience of fear and excitement.
Note: I don’t fancy myself as a great story teller, so pardon my lapses.
A New School
My childhood was quite remarkably, I had lots of the good, the bad and yes, the ugly. I fondly remember an incident that took place when I was eight. We had just moved into a new town and for me that meant a new school.
Two weeks down the line, life in my new schools was almost perfect. Until, one fateful day.
I was in an English class when a teacher famed for his no-nonsense attitude walked into the class.
With the permission of my English Teacher, he walked to the middle of the class and called out three students.
The students he called seemed to be the toppers in the class; the top three precisely. They stood up and he asked them to follow him outside.
While all this was going on, I was living a nightmare. The stories I heard about this particular teacher were frighten for a child, so frighten that I felt like I was in a room with the devil himself.
I thought the nightmare was over when he started walking out of the class. But unknown to me, it was far from over.
My English Teacher called him back and whispered something into his ears, then he nodded up and down like a lizard does.
“GOODLUCK HENRY EMEKA, stand up and join them outside” my then English Teacher ordered.
That moment felt like the most fearful moment of my childhood.
My heartbeat was racing faster than ever, my hands were clamping rapidly too and there was a strange feeling in my stomach (like I had a pit down there).
I barely made my way out of the class.
And I was petrified. When we went outside he made it clear to us that our school was preparing to compete against another school in an inter-school competition.
Hence, his job was simply to select the best from the best.
He started asking us individual questions. When it got to my turn, I could not pronounce the word “INSTEAD” properly in an attempt to answer the question he asked me.
On a normal situation I could of course pronounce the word, but that moment was not a normal one.
My mouth just could not form the word perfectly. And that was typical fear in action, the very type you might be feeling when you are afraid of public speaking and about to deliver a public speech.
Visiting Great-Grand Ma
Not many of us had the opportunity of seeing our Great-Grand Mother Alive, let alone see her strong and able to form those beautiful Granny smiles.
I had that rare privilege of seeing mine.
She was my childhood idol, I was so fond of her.
Back then, before she passed away, we (me and my siblings) usually visit her during holidays. She was good at telling stories (probably because storytelling is an integral part of my culture)
I remember one of the beautiful and superstitious stories she told us, during one of those visits.
One day we saw a snake in the house. So, we ran to her in fear and said “Granny, there is a snake in the house”.
She looked relaxed and told us a story about how our ancestors had an agreement with snakes not bite us and we are not to kill them. So, ” Snakes can’t bite you my children, you have nothing to fear”.
Frankly, visiting her was one of the best experience I had as a child.
When we journey to visit her, there was always this Goosy bumps in us: we are usually super-excited.
And as get close to her place, the excitement overshadows me.
My heartbeat increase rapidly and there is usually a strange feeling in my stomach (like butterflies in my stomach).
That’s was the feeling of maximum excitement. The kind of excitement that is uncontrollably. The type that you’do probably feel when you are excited about giving a speech.
The Magic: Actually it’s Science
Well, enough about my childhood memories!
Did you observed something uniquely common between fear and excitement in both stories (‘A New School’ and ‘Visiting Great-Grand Ma’)?
In both cases, my heartbeat increased rapidly and there was a strange feeling in my stomach. Did you observe that?
I had similar physiological reactions: the increase in heartbeat and a strange feeling in my stomach.
Ordinarily fear and excitement are different. In fact they seem to be the opposite of each other.
Yet, our body reacts similarly in both cases. I’ll tell you why.
Fear and excitement are not that different as we often think, they have quite much in common. One of which is; they are both emotions.
Emotions are not just the “feeling I am feeling, you are feeling, we are feeling”, they are chemical reactions which are felt at a point in our body, that are linked with our physical experience.
The major difference between fear and excitement is the “physical experience” we are experiencing or rather that we tell our brain we are experiencing.
You see, our body system functions just like every other system; it acts based on inputs. Take a computer system for an example, it can and will never process a result without an input, otherwise it is not a computer system.
There is no output without an input. What you tell your brain that you are experiencing (either you tell it you are excited or afraid) is exactly what it uses to process the emotional reactions you feel.
Imagine that moment when my English teacher called my name, imagine what it would have been if I had settled on the positives.
Imagine if I had told my brain “oh my God, an honored, I have just being around for few days and my English teacher already thought I am potentially a topper in the class. Am exhilarated”.
What would have happened next?
I would have been feeling good; excited and fired up. And instead of having a pit in my stomach, it would have been butterflies in there.
That’s the magic of turning your fears into excitement. It works like magic, but is not magic, its science; social science to be precise.
Just Imagine, the difference that would have been made, by just feeding my brain with a different input: a positive input.
Being afraid or excited, is all to do with what you tell your brain you are experience.
Feed it with positive thoughts and you are excited or feed it with negative thoughts and you are afraid.
The positive and exciting thought we feed our brain about an experience, when it feels like we should be afraid is what Mel Robbins called “the anchored thought”.
The thing with the anchor thought, is not that we just make up positive stuffs that are unrelated to the situation, and feed it to our brain. No! It’s not.
It has to be something true or rather something we believe is true that is related to the situation at hand.
Now get this, if you don’t have an exciting reason to do whatever you intend doing, then you got no business trying to do it in the first place.
There have to be something exciting about speaking to that audience.
And note that, excitement doesn’t necessarily mean happiness; it is a feeling of enthusiasm and eagerness. It’s the feeling I felt as a child visiting my Great-Grand Mother.
You can’t be afraid about whatever you want to do when you are excited about it. It’s like you can’t have darkness where there is light or can you?
So, visualize excitement!
Feed your brain with exciting thoughts!!
And be excited!!!