My name is camille.
I ask a lot of questions.
Does this fly freak you out a little?
Maybe cause you a bit of ANXIETY?
I was hoping it might elicit some feelings for this next post, and I thought it would be a great way to segment into this week's question:
What happens in our bodies when we experience ANXIETY, and is it actually the same as EXCITEMENT?
Could ANXIETY and EXCITEMENT actually be the same thing? What would be the difference then? And how could we use that to our advantage?
Anxiety And Excitement: The Physiology
ANXIETY can be defined as a response to a danger or a threat. The same can be said of stress: it is a response to any DISRUPTION of your NORMAL state of functioning. This can come in a thought, a conversation, or an experience. Do any examples come to mind? Think back to the last time you were consciously stressed. Maybe it was a conversation...And maybe through this conversation you learned some information about a friend that slightly distressed you. This new information can be considered a threat to your NORMALCY--what you knew and were comfortable with just a minute ago. How did you respond?
ANXIETY and EXCITEMENT react similarly, if not exactly, alike in the body. They are both high stimulant reactions that stem from the sympathetic nervous system ("fight or flight" response). They both release hormones such as ADRENALINE and CORTISOL. In both of these situations, your body does an amazing thing. It releases glucose (sugar) into your blood to prepare your muscles, and raises your heart rate, cortisol, and adrenaline hormones to sharpen your mind. Again, this is all meant to prepare you to handle the "threatening" experience at hand.
However, the interesting thing is that though the physiological principles are the same, our MENTAL associations with the two events are different. When positive thoughts are associated with a "threatening" experience, it is considered EXCITEMENT. But when negative thoughts are associated with a threatening experience, it is called ANXIETY.
BUT, what if we could change our idea of "normal"?
What if we could change our survival tendency that attempts to return to some baseline, comfortable place. This would include adopting a frame of mind that prepares for--and maybe even welcomes--those changes. I propose that if we are able to do this--to prepare and be willing to change our mind about "threatening" situations--then we can change the outcome of our body's reaction to "stressors".
A recent study suggests this. Before performing in different situations, such as singing karaoke or giving a speech, participants were asked to either verbally announce "I am excited" or "I am calm" (trying to remain in that baseline place we talked about). Those who stated "I am excited" performed significantly better than those who did not step into their body's responses and use it to their advantage.
This kind of thinking, I believe, transforms us from living REACTIONARY lives to ones of ACTION. By adopting these mental habits, we practice no longer living IN REACTION to things, but instead move INTENTIONALLY and FEARLESSLY into the people we want to become.
Whether by nature or nurture, I have always tended to lean towards introversion in my social life. However, about a year ago, as I began to uncover these neurologic secrets, I made the decision to practice these habits for myself. I decided I would channel the NERVOUSNESS I experienced during a social situation into EXCITEMENT instead. And what did I find?
That I have an "extroverted" side to me
That I am more social than I ever imagined
That maybe a lot of my believed INTROVERSION was really just FEAR
From this experience, I learned that maybe sometimes we opt out of situations because subconsciously we are afraid of the multitude of "threats" or "stressors" that situation will inevitably bring. And that consequently, we can suffer from the loss that belief furnishes. I'm afraid (no pun intended) this can have deeply detrimental effects on our life, because we have the potential to miss out on so much! But I'm hoping to change that.
In short, this practice brought me into deeper relationships with people and taught me a lot about myself. In all, it was FUN. And I'd encourage you--especially if you ever crawl a little too close to that introverted line--to do the same!
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My name is Camille.